The Real Clear Podcast with Dr Lucas Klein is the in-depth analysis and commentary on current political events through a psychological lens. The Real Clear podcast covers a wide range of topics, from the latest election results to policy debates, to exploring the impact of current events on the political landscape.
Lucas Klein, Ph.D.:0:28
Good morning folks. Yesterday, former President Donald J Trump surrendered himself to the Fulton County Atlanta jail. His mugshot is the shot seen across the world at this point. Will this hurt or help former President Trump, and what are his chances of actually serving a prison sentence? Would being convicted preclude him from running for and winning the US presidency? Is there any precedent for such a circumstance? Ok, for historical reference here, there has never been a US president who has ever served a prison sentence or even undergone a criminal trial, so this is a first-of-its-kind situation for any US president and for any US citizen. Will this hurt or help President Trump? This depends on a variety of factors. Let's get to the obvious His latest arrest and his striking mugshot thrill both his base and his basic enemies. It's a war cry of a sort. Now for the more nuanced conversation. To what extent does the American public identify with the experience of persecution? If that number is very high and a good portion of independence, view President Trump as being persecuted for the purpose of vindictive motivation that could convert into a vote inside the voting booth for him. This has a high possibility, because large swaths of people are masochistic and identify with others who are. There are a few factors here that will help President Trump be perceived as a persecuted and pursued martyr For one. He is being pursued, that's a fact, and the DAs who are after him do appear and seem interested in persecuting him Personally. This is a separate issue from whether or not he is guilty of the charges. This is a perceptual analysis. Most Americans understand that the charges against him in New York seem rather shaky, frankly bullshit. They are misdemeanor nonsense. They have no chance of going anywhere as a significant legal outcome, and most people understand who are paying attention that Alvin Bragg is a political operative. This is a man who has refused to enforce the law, who has increased crime dramatically in his region, and he has been a disaster of a district attorney, and so his campaign to take down President Trump appears to be a completely personal and narcissistic endeavor, especially considering the very frail legal argument that he has. The federal special case against President Trump is even more beleaguered by this perceptual problem because here you have a Department of Justice directed from the top, from Joe Biden, as every Department of Justice serves under the pleasure of the presidency who is actually investigating for the purpose of criminal indictment, their leading front runner competitor. This would seem to the average citizen to be the stuff of a banana republic. Again, this is not to say whether or not Donald J Trump actually is guilty of the various charges being levied against him. The central focus of this analysis is how the American citizen solves the perceptual and experiential problem of seeing a political candidate under investigation by their competitor. Moreover, the ongoing criminal investigation of the president's son, hunter Biden, is a major complicating factor here. I don't have more to say about that in a separate episode. Keep in mind, people may express one thing in public, but their inner lives are different. Remember in 2016, trump was seen as a buffoon and scoffed at by most people in public. Obviously, people were feeling something different inside themselves and that translated into his election. And it is worth noting in a most ironic manner that Hillary Clinton, though she conceded unlike Donald Trump in 2016, she conceded his win she continued to deny his credibility as a candidate and she peddled what is now known to be complete misinformation. I hate the term, but the Duran report showed very clearly that there was no Russian effect on Trump's election and that that was actually a concoction of her own campaign, but she continued to peddle that Apparently, that's unobjectionable to do. The psychological factors that will convert this series of trials in multiple states to a detriment for Trump are as follows. If he begins to make further incendiary claims about election fraud, which he appears to be doing, he's going to alienate a reasonable portion of independents who are necessary to win the general election. Most people in the independent voting bloc do not view election fraud claims as having credibility. Agree or disagree with this is a fact that the people you need to win a GOP election do not agree with the idea that the election was stolen in 2020. They need much more hard evidence to be swayed, and so far, none has been tendered. Trump usually doubles down when he is accused, and that's what he's doing now. So he's repeating the claim about election fraud openly and publicly and as much as he can, in order to normalize that for the American voter, once you normalize a topic, it's no longer viewed as aberrant or out of bounds. This is a strategy that Trump has used repeatedly throughout his business career and his political career, and it does work, so there's some wisdom there in his method. It's just not clear whether it's going to work to the extent that he wants it to in the independent voting base and what are his chances of actually serving a prison sentence? Well, if the past is the best predictor of the present, then no former president has ever served a prison sentence. And why should he? But these are unique circumstances, keep in mind. There is no specific law or constitutional provision that would stop someone from running for and winning a presidency even while serving a prison sentence. For more clarity on that, go see Article 2, section 1 of the US Constitution. A president must be a natural born citizen, must be 35 years or older and must be 14 or more years as resident in the United States. That's it In terms of serving a prison sentence. I have no idea. I don't think anybody does at this point. He is likely to be convicted, in my opinion, in both New York and Atlanta. But what will happen to those convictions? Will they be hung up in a court of appeals for years, or will they go to the Supreme Court eventually and be reversed? Does a sitting president have to serve a jail time under a conviction while the appeal is underway? That's the real question here. These trials will not be over before the 2024 election. It is very possible that President Trump, if he is elected, will be sitting in the Oval Office while undergoing an active trial. What happens if he is convicted while he is sitting in the Oval Office? Does anyone really believe that the state of Georgia or the state of New York has the legal or practical ability to incarcerate a sitting president? Does this result in a situation where the sitting president of the United States cannot go to to of the states? Wouldn't that be something if President Trump, if he was elected, could not go to New York or to Georgia? He couldn't go to two states in his own union. My my, if he does win the presidency, what are the repercussions of the left having gone after him to the extent that they have? Will this unleash fury and vendetta on the part of President Trump? Remember, the only figure in history that I can think of who had immense power and did not wield it for personal gain was Marcus Aurelius. So the question you have to ask yourself is is Trump a stoic? I think most of us would say no. Okay, folks, these are weird times. Talk to you soon. Tune in regularly and go to realclearpodcastcom. 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