So, here we are, two weeks after the FBI pulled all kinds of official documents out of Donald Trump’s house and the guy hasn’t backed down one bit. He didn’t do anything wrong; he declassified the papers before they were taken out of the White House, the Deep State is using this as an excuse to get rid of the MAGA movement, he’s going to sue everyone involved, blah, blah, blah, and blah.
This is how Trump reacts to anything that isn’t done the way he wants it to be done. He throws a tantrum, he gets his sycophants to make all kinds of stupid remarks, he threatens or actually throws a lawsuit, he’s never wrong and he never backs down.
In fact, for a guy who pretended to be the toughest law and order President of all time, a guy who went out of his way to praise the cops and slap them on the back, all of a sudden he’s become the guy who thinks and says that law enforcement agencies are all no goddamn good.
Where does this belligerent and angry stuff come from? Why is Trump the first person to occupy the Oval Office who doesn’t understand or practice the art of compromise in political terms?
And more important, why does this ‘I’m standing my ground’ narrative seem to energize and, if anything, continue to promote the MAGA brand?
I’ll tell you where it comes from and it’s something I know to be true even though I haven’t seen one political pundit or expert point it out. Ready?
The United States happens to be the one country out of 80 countries throughout the whole world whose legal system follows the British Common Law system which – ready? – specifically forbids standing your ground (SYG) when under attack but in the United States SYG is not only accepted but is incorporated into the laws of 30 separate states. There are 8 other states which have not yet incorporated the SYG concept into specific law but have accepted the practice in terms of judicial opinions and the treatment of SYG issues in the state courts.
What does SYG mean? It means that when faced with a threat, the threatened individual is not required to first withdraw or try to disengage himself from the assault. Our friend Caroline Light has written a clever book on this topic, and she finds SYG being used as a successful legal defense all the way back to Colonial times.
I wish I had a quick and easy answer for how and why SYG has become so much a part of American culture and American belief, but I don’t. Maybe it has something to do with the issue of race. You might believe this to be true since SYG appeared earliest in the Southern states and in its modern, judicial context spread most quickly through the old Confederacy after it was passed in Florida in 2005.
The whole SYG issue became a big deal when it was used by George Zimmerman after he was charged with killing a Black kid, Trayvon Martin, following an altercation in a Florida community in 2012. And of course, the gun business used SYG laws to promote the sale of self-defense handguns once they needed to find a market for their products after all those hunters got too old to go out and try to pop one into Bambi’s ass.
I’m not saying that Trump cynically adopted SYG rhetoric just to gin up trailer trash support for his MAGA brand. I’m saying that he’s no different from anyone in this country who won’t back down because ‘I gotta right to stand right where I am and say whatever I wanna say.’
Welcome to MAGA and the election in 2024.