…the ax is laid at the root of the trees.
“True things, Sancho,” said the half-famished old man to the plump villager who was riding beside him on a donkey. The mugshot of prisoner P01135809, who came into the world in Queens, New York, on June 14, 1946 under the name of Donald John Trump, is the (provisional) culmination of a point that the rationalism of the nation’s founding fathers ever imagined.
It is the first time in history that a former president of the United States has gone to jail to face a legal process against him, once accused of conspiring, like a Mafioso, against the established powers together with a group of condottiere who assisted him to try to stay in power.
The thing is that one of the characteristics of the 45th president consists of the number of times that he has appeared as number one in a kind of historic hit parade.
Let’s say for starters that he is the president with the most money. The first one who did not go through the army or the Marines. The first who did not hold previous political positions. The first to be taken twice to impeachment. The first to go to trial for paying a former porn actress (below the rope) to keep her silent before the elections. The first to be accused of rape in a New York court.
He was also the first to take home to his mansion secret papers owned by the government after Congress passed laws to the contrary in the 1970s. The first to expose the contents of a top-secret document in a golf club to unauthorized personnel. The first to be federally charged. The first to ask an official to get him 11,700 votes and to ask him to say publicly that another count had been made. But also the first to be recorded with self-incriminating evidence, the wettest dream of every prosecutor in the world.
Undoubtedly, a new number one could be added to the previous inventory, considering the pose adopted by the prisoner in the mugshot taken of him in the Fulton County Jail: the most theatrical of politicians, something quite difficult to achieve in the United States of today.
A mugshot is a representation of the criminal justice system, a symbol of lost freedom, the kind of image commonly associated with criminals, rapists, serial killers, drug dealers, or drunk drivers who run over people on the streets.
With that pose, Trump has confirmed himself as a yellowish and defiant monstrosity. He wants to tell us that he is looking at his many enemies behind the camera and warning them that he will eventually go after them. And with an obviously studied expression of anger, directed at his followers below, furthermore brimming with that sentiment.
It is, above all, an image for propaganda-electoral uses calculated in advance. “Carefully prepared, as is the case with most things Trump does,” said a former national security adviser of his. Indeed, months before being photographed in Georgia, his campaign had already used a mug shot as a prop to raise funds.
“For $36 you could buy a T-shirt with a fake photo of Trump in jail and below with the words Not Guilty,” says a journalist. On Thursday, a few minutes after the snapshot was published, the campaign used it for the same thing: “BREAKING NEWS: THE MUG PHOTO IS HERE.” But they added the following: “This mugshot will forever go down in history as a symbol of America’s defiance of tyranny.”
It was part of a plan. The first moment was characterized by a true avalanche of propaganda, made precisely based on T-shirts, mugs and other merchandise with the photo of the aforementioned. Even his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., announced it on his X— the old Twitter — account, affirming that all the proceeds would go to his father’s defense fund. The results did not take long.
According to Fox News, Trump’s presidential campaign confirmed on Saturday, August 26, that nearly $20 million had been raised over the past three weeks, matching the federal indictment in Washington, D.C. and the photo of you-know-who. Of that amount, $7.1 million was raised after his photo was taken Thursday night. As of Friday, they said, $4.18 million had been raised.
The other moment is more ideological: it consists of reiterating the old mantras, the traditional sound bytes. The first, calling Fanny Willis “a leftist prosecutor” who “has ACCUSED me despite having committed NO CRIME”; the second, to consider himself libertarian, prophetic and even anointed by who knows what: “I will NEVER hand over our country to these tyrants.” A narrative where the character is (again) in line with the struggle of the founding fathers against the tyranny of British colonial power, evidently a legacy of the Tea Party discourse.
All of this is wrapped in a rhetorical package characterized by its flip-flops, that is, by an inversion of the problem, what Cubans would call “turning over the omelet.” This is an operation carried out by an individual who has tried to supplant the electoral reality of 2020 by repeating and repeating, in a Goebbelian way, that there was widespread fraud.
Through this procedure, “the United States is becoming a banana republic. These are dark days in the life of America.” In short, whoever has tried to bananize them is now listed as a bananized subject.
But the arrow has already been released, and it flies beyond the collections and political-commercial propaganda. So it only remains to wait and see if Donald John Trump will appear in the history books as the first former U.S. president to be sentenced to prison.