The seething hatred that marks our politics continues to bubble like muck. Never more partisan, never angrier at one another, we continue to prosecute Election 2020 even as the states run out of ballots to count. Angry tweets, lawsuits, and fraud allegations devoid of evidence fill every news cycle.
Sadder still is the realization that we are in act one of this dirge-like drama: Come Jan. 20, we will begin to hear news of one congressional investigation after another. Surely the Department of Justice will get into the act, too.
Already, you hear gleeful Democrats thrilling to the dream of former President Donald Trump on trial—for tax fraud, obstruction of justice, campaign finance shenanigans or anything and everything else they can take to court.
The perspective here is that this will accomplish exactly nothing worthwhile on behalf of America.
It will not stop a pandemic killing us by the thousands, not right our wobbling economy, not restore our standing in the world, not end the fight of our times—Team Blue versus Team Red.
So how about we simply skip it? How about Joe Biden, in his first official act as the 46th President of the United States, grant Trump a full pardon for any and all crimes Trump may have committed while in office?
My logic here harks back to an earlier, equally strife-ridden time: The summer of 1974, when Richard Nixon, disgraced by Watergate, resigned and exited Washington in a chopper.
A month later, newly installed President Gerald Ford, Nixon’s Republican running mate, pardoned Nixon. Ford was attacked from all directions for this decision.
Almost a half-century later, many historians credit Ford as courageous for having done so. And his logic? It fits our present moment like a glove.
Should Nixon come to trial, Ford explained, “ugly passions would again be aroused. And our people would again be polarized in their opinions. And the credibility of our free institutions of government would again be challenged at home and abroad.”
Ford went on: “My conscience tells me clearly and certainly that I cannot prolong the bad dreams that continue to reopen a chapter that is closed. My conscience tells me that only I, as president, have the constitutional power to firmly shut and seal this book. My conscience tells me it is my duty, not merely to proclaim domestic tranquility but to use every means that I have to insure it.”
So, Ford pardoned his longtime friend, and ended up a one-term president for his trouble. Biden might pay a similar price for ignoring party lines to the dismay of his fellow Democrats.
Or perhaps committing an act of mercy for Trump, a man who has shown little compassion for anyone save himself, would be viewed as graceful, bold, presidential.
Either way, Biden would benefit politically by not having spectacles like “Trump under investigation” and “Trump on trial” suck the oxygen out of his administration for years on end. And America?
We, too, would benefit from an end to this sordid chapter in our history. As Ford put it on the day he took office as president, “My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.”
Asked on the campaign trail if he would consider pardoning Trump, Biden told a town hall crowd in May that he would not commit to letting the Department of Justice fully investigate Trump.
“It’s hands off completely,” Biden went on. “The attorney general is not the president’s lawyer. It’s the people’s lawyer.”
The people are exhausted. The people have bigger nightmares to face than one man. And the people absolutely need to move on from Trump.