Lib Campbell: Trump trial karma 

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 11, 2024

By Lib Campbell

In March of 2023, we brought home another Boykin spaniel whose name is Karma. We picked her up at Buckee’s in Florence, South Carolina, on the day of Donald Trump’s first indictment. I wrote in my column that week, “We kept the name, because we thought it was apt for the moment in history when a former president finally got what many of us thought was coming to him.” 

Moments of reckoning have come slowly to Mr. Trump. From reading his bio, it appears he has skirted rules and law and been shameless in the conning of universities and steaks and Bibles. Roy Cohn and others have been wily using the edges of legality for most of Mr. Trump’s life. Anyone who says he could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and get away with it is a person to be wary of. The rule of law that holds together our society is being stretched to its limits. 

I will admit, on the November morning after the election, I had a mild euphoria that at last Trump was finished. Euphoria does not last long. Before the week was over, the “stop the steal” campaign was in full force. It has continued for the last four years and, beyond all credulity, people still believe it. 

The indictment euphoria was also short-lived. The staccato language coming from the right railed against holding their dear leader to account. The chaos is never ending. 

The three other indictments have been held up, in part because of the partisan SCOTUS and an inexperienced Florida judge. Justice comes slowly, if it comes at all. 

The reaction to the 34 guilty verdicts in the hush money case has been so predictable. Senators in blue suits and red ties railed against the trial from outside the courtroom. They cloned Trump in their mini-me blue costumes and lined up to speak like little ducks all in a row. 

They join the North Carolina delegation of representatives in their denigration of the system and the corruption of justice. On May 30, the News and Observer published their words of complaint. I think all these people have 3×5 index cards with the talking points they all use. 

Here is the short list. Rigged trial. Witch hunt. Sham. Fake. Corrupt justice system. Incompetent judge. Politically motivated state prosecutor. A total disgrace. Rigged charade. Weaponization of justice system. A damning precedent. Banana republic. Questionable witnesses. And the ever popular, “Trump is the victim here.” 

It might be fun to keep track of how often these words are said. Hash marks on a tally sheet would tell the story in what sounds like a broken record. The rote of these words at the least reflect a lack of originality. They speak with the oratory of toddlers, not to throw shade on toddlers. They tell the story of a conspiracy theory spread to sow distrust in the American justice system and rule of law. 

Much has been said about Ken Burns’ commencement address to Brandeis University. The line that resonated with me was that we are facing an existential crisis in which, if we want to keep our republic, there is no real choice in November. Either Biden or Autocracy. Many thinkers agree this is the decision we will make as we vote. 

In an interview following his speech, Burns said, America is “an aspirational experiment.” Aspiration is naming those visions we have of a more perfect union. Aspiration is hope. I see little vision and hope being sown in American politics today. 

For the past couple of weeks, we have watched the NCAA college baseball regionals. A young pitcher on one of the teams was interviewed by an ESPN sideline reporter. The reporter commented on the fact that this young man was a leader and influencer on his team. The reporter asked how that happened? The young man replied, “Leadership is a great responsibility.” He took that role seriously. We could use a little of that value in those who lead us. When an 18-year-old can articulate such a vision, what is wrong with we who can’t?

How are we working to be reconciling voices? Where are we lifting up the values of America? Are we willing to give it over to dictators and thugs and convicted criminals? Burns said, “Easy promises of a dictator will not materialize. Things will only get worse.” History teaches us this. 

Our girl, Karma, continues to be a blessing in her joy and love of life. She tickles us with her antics. Her name reminds us that justice is not far away. Karma and righteousness are at work. If we have faith, work hard and exhibit a little more leadership, we can make this country a better place. 

I agree with Burns, “It’s time for a better conversation about Democracy.” 

Lib Campbell is a retired Methodist pastor, retreat leader, columnist and host of the blogsite She can be contacted at