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As I See It: Freedom of speech not absolute, the cult mentality in politics

Former US President Donald Trump was indicted for the 3rd time for criminal offenses relating to the January 6 incident discrediting the result of the election claiming President Joe Biden won illegally.

Just like any person charged with criminal offenses, Trump arrived at a federal court in Washington on Thursday for his arraignment on charges that he conspired to remain in office despite his 2020 election loss. He was fingerprinted and arraigned on charges brought against him on Tuesday by the special counsel, Jack Smith. It was the third time in four months he stood before a judge on criminal charges, but it was the most momentous for his multiple efforts to undermine one of the core tenets of democracy – the election.

Mr. Trump currently faces three criminal cases. First, the federal case brought in Washington this week by the special counsel, Jack Smith. Second, a separate federal case brought by Mr. Smith in Florida accusing Mr. Trump of mishandling national security secrets; and third, a case in New York State Court accusing him of falsifying election documents.

His court appearance in Washington was presided over by Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya, and any trial over Mr. Trump’s efforts to stay in power despite his electoral loss will be overseen by Judge Tanya S. Chutkan.

In court, Mr. Trump listened to the charges against him, which centered on his effort to overturn the 2020 election results. Before Moxila A. Upadhyaya, the federal magistrate judge overseeing the arraignment, Mr. Trump pleaded “not guilty”.

Judge Upadhyaya handed off the case to trial judge Tanya S. Chutkan who asked prosecutors to present any conditions for Mr. Trump’s release.  The proceedings went as planned and Mr. Trump returned to his private jet which took him back to his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

Responding to the indictment, Trump said the indictment was a means to persecute him: “This is Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history.”

On the other hand, former Vice President Mike Pence said: “Today’s indictment serves as an important reminder: anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be President of the United States. I will have more to say about the government’s case after reviewing the indictment. The former president is entitled to the presumption of innocence but with this indictment, his candidacy means more talk about January 6th and more distractions. Our country is more important than one man. Our constitution is more important than any one man’s career.”

As to the Trump campaign, this is what they say: “This is nothing more than the latest corrupt chapter in the continued pathetic attempt by the Biden Crime Family and their weaponized Department of Justice to interfere with the 2024 Presidential Election, in which President Trump is the undisputed frontrunner, and leading by substantial margins.”

“No one is above the law — including Donald Trump,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries wrote in a joint statement released Tuesday. “This indictment must now play out through the legal process, without any outside political or ideological interference. We encourage Mr. Trump’s supporters and critics alike to let this case proceed peacefully in court.”

With all these multiple comments, Trump claims he is innocent and has the right to freedom of speech under the US constitution. He might be right, but the freedom of speech is not absolute. It was never meant to be by the framers of the constitution otherwise there will be chaos and no order. In fact, nobody is above the law. The law must prevail that’s why all rights and freedoms under the Bill of Rights are not absolute, although anyone have the right to free expression.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the right to free speech is not absolute and government sometimes may be allowed to limit speech. Historically, a fundamental distinction arose between the content of speech and the means whereby that speech is expressed.

While the First Amendment states, in relevant part, that: “Congress shall make no law…abridging freedom of speech,” freedom of speech does not include the right to incite imminent lawless action. Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969).

There Are No ‘Absolute’ Rights because nearly every idea in the Bill of Rights comes with restrictions and limitations. To think that the Second Amendment should be any different is absurd, writes Michael Tomasky. (Civil and Human Rights, Constitutional Accountability Center)

What’s surprising is that a far larger 71 percent of Republicans say the former president has not committed serious crimes, the same percentage who say Republicans need to stand behind Mr. Trump through his legal trials.

Another disturbing development is that Trump’s fund-raising surged after each of his first two indictments. Former President Donald J. Trump’s legal challenges have proven to be lucrative fund-raising opportunities and he is capitalizing on this to bolster his chances of re-election. His first two indictments and court appearances have been followed by steep increases in online donations to his committees. Fund-raising totals include money raised for Donald J. Trump for President 2024 and Trump Save America J.F.C. via WinRed. (Source: Federal Election CommissionBy Andrew Fischer)

A quarter of Mr. Trump’s online fund-raising this year occurred in the weeks around his first indictment. Contributions around the second indictment were not nearly as substantial, and it remains to be seen whether donors stick with Mr. Trump as his legal troubles have multiplied.

Others say his 3rd indictment will even bolster more funds pouring in to Trump’s political war chest, although we found out that not all the money coming in for his political campaign is not being spent for the campaign, but are largely being used for his personal gain, especially his legal battles… now that he has 3 indictments and another two are coming.

Despite multiple criminal indictments, however, former President Trump is still the front-runner for the Republican nomination. Yes, he is so far leading Florida Gov. Ron De Santis coming in far second among 30 GOP candidates.

Others say this is Trumpism but I would say this is political cultism. The cult mentality is prevailing in Mr. Trump’s allies because despite all these allegations and indictments, they are still standing beside him, supporting him to the hilt, sacrificing their philosophy and the party’s philosophy.

When does a political movement become a cult? According to Matthew Rozca in his article, “We talked to experts about partisanship and fanaticism and why some politicians inspire cult-like devotion.

At the time of this writing, Trump has spent years focusing his cult of personality on promoting what has become known as the Big Lie — i.e., his claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him despite conclusive evidence to the contrary. Unlike a normal political issue which springs from authentic mass opinions (abortion rights, gun control, economic policy, etc.), the Big Lie exists because of the personality quirks of a man in charge of a political cult. It survives because, instead of being discredited by Trump’s years-long history of refusing to accept election results unless he wins and the fact that Trump’s arguments having been debunked, Trump supporters are trained to disregard any voice that dissents from their leader’s word.

“People who are believing in the Big Lie have been indoctrinated for the most part into believing only this and into disbelieving any media that is critical of it,” explained Dr. Steven Hassan, one of the world’s foremost experts on mind control and cults, a former senior member of the Unification Church, founder/director of the Freedom of Mind Resource Center Inc. and author of the bestselling books “Freedom of Mind,” “Combating Cult Mind Control” and “The Cult of Trump.”

Okay, so with the cult mentality ingrained in politics nowadays centering on Trump, most likely Trump will be the standard bearer of the GOP come 2024. But… will it carry its weight nationwide? Will the American voters propel him to the White House again, for the second time around?

Fellow Americans, the decision is yours!