Donald Trump Explores the ‘Banana Republic’ Essence of the US*

*Editor’s note: On March 4, 2022, Russia enacted a law that criminalizes public opposition to, or independent news reporting about, the war in Ukraine. The law makes it a crime to call the war a “war” rather than a “special military operation” on social media or in a news article or broadcast. The law is understood to penalize any language that “discredits” Russia’s use of its military in Ukraine, calls for sanctions or protests Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It punishes anyone found to spread “false information” about the invasion with up to 15 years in prison.

What are the consequences of the Colorado Supreme Court’s unprecedented ruling?

On Dec. 20, the Colorado Supreme Court removed Donald Trump from the state’s presidential primary ballot in an extraordinary ruling.*

The Colorado ruling is yet another unprecedented Trump-related event. The former U.S. president was indicted on criminal charges that he unlawfully retained classified documents earlier this year, which had never happened before. Not long after that, he was also indicted on charges he interfered with the 2020 presidential election and in connection with matters concerning an attempt to retain office by inciting an insurrection, another first.

While the press was writing about how American politics were entering uncharted territory at the time, Trump hysterically posted messages on Truth Social, calling the U.S. a “banana republic,” as ordinary Americans laughed at him. The same thing is happening again with the latest development, but no one is laughing.

But, first things first. The Colorado Supreme Court’s opinion relied on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which bars specified people who have engaged in rebellion or insurrection against the United States from holding public office.* The court ruled that the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was an insurrection and, therefore, Trump, as its instigator, should be removed from the state’s presidential primary ballot. The ruling was deferred until Jan. 4 to allow time for appeal. Unless the Colorado decision is overturned, Trump’s name will not appear on both Colorado’s primary ballot and the state ballot in the 2024 general presidential election.

At first glance, this seems logical. However, things are more complicated if you dig deeper. We can skip the legal implications of the court’s ruling for now, although there are some very serious issues. Instead, let’s focus on the several uncharted territories that American commentators have observed with respect to U.S. politics.

First, what about the primacy of the rule of law in the U.S., hitherto unquestioned. The Colorado Supreme Court justices who ruled 4-3 against Trump were all appointed by Democratic governors who tightly control the executive and legislative branches in Colorado and seriously dislike Trump.

Trump’s attorneys have announced they will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Again, this is logical as (surprise, surprise!) three of the justices on the Republican-dominated U.S. Supreme Court bench were appointed by the former president. And no one doubts that they will side with him and overrule the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision.

As such, the major issue involving the politicization of the courts in the U.S. still remains and is casting a shadow over the rule of law, as decision in American political cases seem to be guided by the judicial allegiance to a particular party. Therefore, in such situations, the Constitution is needed only to justify a decision that already been made. And so, with each scandal surrounding the former president, the lines between the American legal system and politics are blurred further.

The second instance of entering uncharted territory is the potential effect of the Colorado Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on relations between the federal government and individual states. After all, generally speaking, even conservative Republicans favor expanding state powers. For example, the U.S. Supreme Court relied on the need to uphold state rights as one of its major reasons for overturning the constitutional right to abortion in 2022.

Now, however, Colorado Democrats have hijacked that idea and taken it to absurd extremes. They say that if states can decide whether or not a woman should give birth, they can decide on who to elect as president. Of course, there is logic in this, as the power to oversee a federal election already lies with the individual states. However, this jostling for power is leading America down a slippery slope.

Following Colorado, the Democratic-controlled states of California and Maine are also exploring the possibility of removing Trump from the ballot.** Republicans in Texas have stated that if they do so, they will remove Joe Biden from their presidential ballot.

If the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t intervene, there will come a point where two parallel ballots are held at the same time, resulting in two different winners with highly questionable legitimacy. And this opens up a direct path toward civil conflict.

Finally, the third kind of uncharted territory involves how far Republicans and Democrats are willing to go in the political struggle, and whether they can put their institutions on the line. Of course, the use of institutional and administrative resources for political gain is nothing new to the U.S. After all, the same Republicans have shamelessly gerrymandered electoral districts and devised dubious census rolls to disenfranchise disloyal voters — that’s how they hold power in the states they control.

Similarly, Colorado Democrats are turning the courts against Trump in hopes of holding on to power at the federal level. But they are doing so in such a clumsy and obvious way that they are beginning to threaten the legitimacy of the entire judicial branch of the government. All this is happening at a time when the institutions of power in the U.S. already face credibility issues. What this further escalation will lead to is anyone’s guess.

In short, the people of the U.S. are not laughing now because they are literally and figuratively rediscovering America. American politicians have long boasted about strong independent institutions and the superior role that the rule of law plays in the U.S. However, what’s happening with Trump begs the question: How many of these assertions are rooted in reality? American politicians are entering uncharted territory that is becoming too dangerous, and the “banana republic” side of the U.S. is becoming too obvious to ignore.

The author expresses a personal opinion, which may not reflect the views of Gazeta’s editorial board.

*Editor’s note: Section 3 of the 14th Amendment provides in part: “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

** Translator’s note: On Dec. 29, Maine’s Democratic Secretary of State Shenna Bellows removed Trump from the state’s presidential primary ballot, citing the Constitution’s insurrection clause.

About this publication

About Nikita Gubankov 101 Articles
Originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, I've recently graduated from University College London, UK, with an MSc in Translation and Technology. My interests include history, current affairs and languages. I'm currently working full-time as an account executive in a translation and localization agency, but I'm also a keen translator from English into Russian and vice-versa, as well as Spanish into English.

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