When historians pick apart past civilizations that collapsed or descended into chaos, they point to certain events that marked key moments - moments that were clear signals of impending peril. In the rear view mirror, these events seem to be obvious indicators, though they were not decisive incidents that immediately changed history: the corruption of the Roman Senate; Bloody Sunday, 12 years before Nicholas II fell; the early release of Hitler from prison, after less than one year served. All were events that did not lead to immediate calamity, but when tracing backward through the decay, these were significant moments.
In the case of present-day America, another such event is approaching, significant but lacking the seminal importance of the crossing of the Rubicon or the burning of the Reichstag. The FBI and Justice Department, the former being under the auspices of the latter, will eventually reach a decision on how to proceed against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s illegal activity surrounding her private e-mail and classified information.
Clinton supporters and the national press have rushed forward to proclaim her innocence. For her part, Mrs. Clinton cannot keep her story straight, and several of her public pronouncements have already been proven to be false. That said, several pundits, including former Justice Department official and talk show host Mark Levin, have shown exactly what sections of the Espionage Act have been violated. Forget arguing her innocence: the confirmed presence of classified information on the personal server and then deletion therefrom are felonious acts. The question is: what will happen to her?
In a nation where the Rule of Law applies equally to those who are/were in positions of power just as it does to those who are not, Hillary Clinton would most assuredly be convicted of felonies. Each e-mail is a “count,” so she conceivably could be guilty of hundreds of felony counts. In a fair, equitable, and just society, Mrs. Clinton would go to prison. It is indeed that cut and dry.
In a nation where morality is crumbling, where politicians are not subject to the same laws as the citizens who live under those laws, and the elite class (“Ruling Class,” as Angelo Codevilla terms it) are not held accountable for their actions while average citizens are prosecuted, Mrs. Clinton clearly gets away without punishment.
In ten years, what will we see in our collective rear view mirror?
Mrs. Clinton has everything that we think of when considering the Ruling Class. She has protection; in her case, Secret Service protection as a former First Lady of the U.S. She has money, earning more taxpayer money in one speech than the average worker makes in six years of toil. She has had power, and that does not include that her husband was formerly president of the U.S. She has influence, including over much of the national press- an accounting of all of the misinformation and half-truths presented by various members of the national press, just on this e-mail issue alone, would take at least one column to document.
Mrs. Clinton can summon an endless number of attorneys willing to represent her. She can hire publicists to spin her story. Many attorneys and publicists would work pro bono just to gain her favor. She can garner an almost endless stream of donations for those who wish to fawn over her or buy influence with her in case she is in a position of power again.
She is, in short, a member of the American elite.
She is, clearly, also a felon, unindicted as of yet.
How she is treated by our judicial system- think about blind Lady Justice- will be telling. If she is treated like any other suspected felon, albeit with high-dollar lawyers, then the fabric holding our society together will appear strong. If she gains favored treatment, left uncharged for her crimes, the fabric of our social society is in greater peril than most people realize.
The correct terminology for someone being investigated for a crime is “suspect,” or that she is “suspected” of committing felonies. In this case, a public figure, with investigative information leaked to the press, we know what she did. The fact that she has changed her story multiple times is also an important indicator. She does not deserve the cautionary description of “suspect” when she has been so reckless and the very act of a person of her (former) position having a separate, private e-mail server, under the law, is a de facto crime.
If Mrs. Clinton is put before a jury trial and found not guilty, that would be maddening, but at least we would know that she was not above the law because she would have been charged with crimes. If she is not charged, that will be our indicator of the decayed state of our society, and one moment we will look back on, citing the obvious, of how we should have realized that civil society was on the brink.
How Hillary Clinton will be treated is that important. Do we or do we not maintain a just society? Cite any amendment you wish, but the most important component of a free society is that the Rule of Law is observed. Soon we will know where we stand on the Rule of Law, and as a nation.
Brian W. Peterson has been a columnist for a mid-size California newspaper, is a veteran of political campaigns, and was a member of the publicly elected Republican Central Committee of Los Angeles County. His psychological thriller Dead Dreams and sci-fi adventure Children of the Sun are currently available through Amazon.com. You can follow Brian on Twitter @cybrpete.
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