Opinion: Why Donald Trump’s Unanimous Conviction Is Heartbreaking

On Thursday afternoon, after less than 10 hours of deliberating, 12 ordinary jurors hailing from New York City found the former president guilty on all 34 counts of falsifying business records to conceal alleged affairs that threatened to implode his 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump’s reaction was as expected: The soon-to-be convicted felon emerged from the Manhattan courtroom defiant, declaring the verdict a “disgrace” while attacking the judge, the venue, the prosecutors and the judicial process itself.

Reactions from rank-and-file Republicans were just as predictable. Members of the so-called party of “law and order” were quick to defend their presumptive presidential nominee, shamelessly echoing his outright lies that the case was a “purely political exercise,” a sign of a “corrupt and rigged” justice system, and election interference “brought forward by Joe Biden” and his “allies.”

Senator, podcast guy and Cancún aficionado Ted Cruz went on Fox News to share that in the wake of Trump’s unanimous conviction, he is “furious and heartbroken.”

While it’s reassuring to witness a judicial proceeding live up to the far-too-often fallacious claim that “no one is above the law,” I’m not celebrating. Instead — like the GOP Texas senator who apparently loves the NRA more than protecting fourth graders in their classrooms — I am also furious and heartbroken.

Don’t get me wrong: I disagree with MSNBC host Jen Psaki and other Democrats who are choosing to meet this historic moment with serious reverence simply because a former president was found guilty. Whatever a convicted felon running for the highest office in the land does to this country’s political, cultural and social fabric, it was and will be done by Trump and his allies — not the prosecutors, judge and jury who simply did their jobs. May 30, 2024, is not a “sad and somber” day for America but a flicker of hope that some of the best of this country’s ideals are, in fact, not dead and buried.

No, I am furious and heartbroken because a twice-impeached, convicted felon found liable for sexual assault put three judges on the U.S. Supreme Court who ultimately destroyed the Constitutional right to bodily autonomy and abortion access.

I’m angry that despite three women — E. Jean Carroll, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal — holding Trump legally accountable when damn near all of our elected officials have not or will not, the majority of white women voted for a man who bragged about groping and kissing women without their consent, both in 2016 and 2020. According to a recent 2024 Quinnipiac University poll, female support for the former president has only dropped 5%.

I’m grieving the undeniable fact that a man who attempted to subvert a free and fair election and who has three additional pending criminal cases levied against him was successfully buoyed into the Oval Office, only to irreparably harm this country’s political process, democratic future and, as I type, the most marginalized among us.

There is no denying that the American electorate has long known who Trump is— a criminal in deeds and words. As a candidate, Trump vowed to elect Supreme Court judges with the sole intent of overturning Roe v. Wade. Now, one in three women no longer has access to abortion care, one in five abortion patients are forced to travel out of state for that care, and story after painful story of pregnant people forced to carry unsafe and nonviable pregnancies to term — risking their health and their lives — have become an unforgivable norm.

Because Trump was gifted the executive power to embolden conservative anti-abortion zealots, the Supreme Court and Republican lawmakers have set their sights on birth control, emergency contraception, IVF and surrogacy. At one point, a Republican bold enough to claim a woman’s body has a way of avoiding pregnancies in cases of “legitimate rape” would end their career. Now, Republican lawmakers are proudly championing legislation that forces rape victims as young as 10 to carry their traumatic pregnancies to term.

The right to marry who you love, regardless of gender, is also on the proverbial chopping block, as the highest court in the land continues to whittle away at our fundamental right to privacy and Republicans continue to demonize trans and LGBTQ+ youth.

Under a Trump presidency, hate crimes surged 20%. A man who believed there were “very fine people on both sides” of the 2019 Nazi rally in Charlottesville; whose 2016 presidential rallies caused a 226% increase in hate crimes in the area; who consistently spews antisemitic rhetoric and continues to evoke the same language regurgitated by Adolf Hitler and other white supremacists, has forever altered how politicians conduct themselves on the campaign trail and inside the halls of Congress. For the foreseeable future, hate and fear are the sole platforms of a major political party, to the apparent delight of that party’s members.

After Trump and his Republican cohorts spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 election outcome even before voters cast their ballots, only to continue peddling the “Big Lie” that the election was stolen, an untenable amount of Americans do not trust the electoral process and only 37% of Americans believe the 2024 election will be “honest and open.” He has likened himself to Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln, successfully creating a cult of personality where up is down, wrong is right and an alternative reality reigns supreme.

So yes, I am too furious and heartbroken to celebrate Trump’s unanimous guilty verdict. While I am grateful he has been held legally accountable for his actions, I cannot ignore how much damage has been done because a man as corrupt, self-obsessed and drunk with power as Trump was handed the keys to the White House. That everlasting and punishing damage will long remain — Trump’s ultimate legacy — no matter how many times a jury declares the former president of the United States guilty.

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