Donald Trump Guilty: A Huge Blow to the Political System*

A jury found Donald Trump guilty on 34 counts of falsifying business records. We spoke with Professor Zbigniew Lewicki, a specialist in American Studies from Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, about how this verdict may affect the political scene in the U.S.

How would you comment on the matter of finding a former, and perhaps future, U.S. president guilty in a criminal case, considering that this is an unprecedented situation?

Professor Zbigniew Lewicki, Specialist in American Studies:

It seems to me that commentators are focusing on the fact that this is an unprecedented event and are not paying enough attention to the future significance of what happened. This is a huge blow to the political system. Never mind whether Donald Trump is guilty or not. What is important is that a very important politician will be greatly weakened and perhaps even eliminated. A politician with great public support, with over 40% of voters who want to vote for him. These voters may feel cheated in the sense that their candidate is being taken away from them. Trump’s potential crime is not worth the damage to the political process.

So, you believe that Donald Trump’s supporters may treat this as having their ability to choose taken away?

Trump has faced constant media criticism from the very beginning of his political career. There are even analyses by media experts that show not a day has passed without his being criticized. His obvious successes in foreign policy were underappreciated. However, I repeat: I am not talking about Trump himself, but about those who voted for him and will do so again. This verdict confirms their belief that liberal elites are doing everything to prevent the Republican candidate from taking the White House. This is the greatest damage that has been done. If Trump appeals and that appeal goes to the Supreme Court, even if his conviction is overturned, the damage has been done, because the situation won’t change until the election.

Will there be less chance of Trump winning the presidency after this verdict, or just the opposite?

Some say that many unconvinced voters will support him because they see what his opponents are doing to him. Others assume that undecided voters will find Trump particularly unworthy of the presidency. One Polish politician interestingly noticed that after the scandal, support for Grzegorz Braun increased. ** This is a normal reaction from voters in a situation where someone commits a reprehensible act that is perceived as persecution.

Should we envy the choice that Americans face? On the one hand, there’s the Democratic candidate Joe Biden, who is losing popularity due to a number of his decisions, and on the other, there’s Trump, who was found guilty in a criminal trial.

The problem is that neither candidate should be in the White House. This is proof of America’s political crisis: that we have a choice between a president who tends to skirt around the truth, harmlessly but persistently departing from it, providing fictitious data and not being in full control of his physical and mental state, and a candidate who is certainly not a model of morality or anyone who can serve as an example for young people — this, among other things, being the role of president in America. The superpower on which so many world events depend is unable to select a candidate from among several hundred million citizens to be a suitable role model.

*Editor’s note: The original Polish version of this article is available with a paid subscription.

**Editor’s note: The author appears to be referring to an incident in which politician Grzegorz Braun used a fire extinguisher to douse the candles of a Hanukkah menorah in parliament.

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