Trump Fatigue & the Slow Arc of Justice

If anything, what the indictments truly emphasize is that Trump was never a solo act.
If anything, what the indictments truly emphasize is that Trump was never a solo act. Photo: Rich Graessle/Getty Images
Baratunde Thurston
August 20, 2023

You’ve heard by now that former president Donald Trump is facing 91 felony charges in four separate criminal indictments. Take a moment. Breathe. Let that sink in. Like many Americans, I was raised to feel a healthy skepticism towards the U.S. political system, its representatives, and the myriad ways that power is used, abused, and flows asymmetrically through our government. The cliché notions that “all politicians lie” and that “all presidents break the law” are baked into our culture. But on a day-to-day basis, do we imagine that our politicians, no matter how unscrupulous or cynical, are committing actual, criminal, go-to-prison crimes? Crimes that result in a trip down to the local courthouse? Nah.

Yet here we are, with a former president entering and exiting courthouses across the country. He’s getting arraigned, pleading not guilty, and awaiting trial dates like someone on Law & Order (or like the estimated one in three Americans who have some type of criminal record). It’s beyond disappointing—after all, presidents are supposed to represent the best of what our country has to offer—and so we should find it utterly and completely surreal. 

But for some reason, the news doesn’t seem to be sinking in with your average American. While slightly more than half of registered voters say Trump should be indicted for trying to overturn the 2020 election, the most grievous of his four recent indictments, only about 20 percent of Republicans feel the same way. And I admit, I’ve found myself becoming numb to the news, myself. How can that be, when we’re living through what will surely be one of the crazier chapters in some middle schooler’s future U.S. History textbook? (Well, maybe not in Florida.)