It has been several months since observers raised the issue, but the indictment of the 45e President last week revived the debate. Should we let justice take its course, risking tearing the nation apart, or should we rather consider a pardon?
History buffs will probably remember that Gerald Ford opted for a presidential pardon on September 8, 1974. Referring to a real tragedy, he doubted that his predecessor could enjoy the presumption of innocence and a fair trial.
Rather than leaving his fellow citizens to tear each other apart during a long and painful process, he deemed it wiser to look to the future by ensuring tranquility for his country (his statement is here).
Ford’s decision had been strongly denounced by journalists, politicians and citizens, but with hindsight, the majority of opponents now consider that pardoning Nixon was the best option.
In 2023, those who consider a pardon for Trump are not necessarily supporters of the 45th president. A bit like Ford, they want to avoid the worst. Their fears are amplified by the nature of Trump. The latter seems to like chaos, he is in his element there.
If we imagine several charges after those in New York, the partisans of pardon envisage very long legal proceedings during which the circus of the last 5-6 years would continue. Ultimately, even a guilty verdict would not change perceptions and the division would remain just as deep.
In opposition to forgiveness
Although I have read everything related to Ford’s decision and have noted that with a little perspective, its 1974 opponents have changed their minds, I nevertheless agree with those who oppose an opening gesture from Biden.
I could sum up the argument simply by saying that Trump is not Nixon and Biden is not Ford. If it is true that what Nixon was accused of was serious, in 2023 it is the foundations of the system that must be preserved. What Biden himself called the soul of the country.
Pardoning Trump when for a rare time in his life he is faced with the repercussions of his remarks and his shenanigans seems counterproductive to me. While citizens often have the impression that the laws do not apply to the rich and the affluent, this would send the wrong signal.
More importantly, many fanatics, representatives of the extreme right and fascists have found in the 45th president a providential leader. They who were still in hiding before 2016 are now working in broad daylight and infiltrating the conservative movement. Do you think that a pardon would calm their ardor?
If you are one of those who believe that the last few years have been a nightmare for the United States, a pardon would not change anything, it would prolong it.