Fair warning, this relates to a political item in the US. My perspective is from a non-American, and the appearance of insanity that surrounds it.
To the point then, a report that the Department of Justice (DoJ) has dropped all charges against advisor Flynn.
The background here is that Flynn was investigated in relation to the Russian involvement in the US elections. Two parts, one that he did took efforts to impact the elections, then that he lied about it. The transcripts for this have been released. There’s a rather clear statement within from Flynn that this did occur.
He was charged, plead guilty and was in the process of being sentenced. This week, the DoJ decided to drop all charges due to lack of evidence to support the charges.
In all legal scenarios, there’s a law and then the ethical application of said law. You’re not allowed to steal, but if you’re starving and take an apple, you’re unlikely to go to jail. That’s why there’s a court system.
In this option, the facts demonstrate that the law was broken, there’s a guilty plea, and sentencing. The advocates for this model purport that the sanctity of the US electoral system should be isolated from outside influence, in particular when it comes to the candidates themselves. (The US has a complicated PAC system that I won’t go into.)
In this option, the facts demonstrate that the law was broken, but that the crime was ethical. No charges, no sentencing. The advocates for this model is that the ends justify the means. There’s no disagreement on the facts, simply that breaking the law was in the best interests of the country.
This is where things get complicated. The traditional middle ground between A and B is the duration of sentencing. You’re guilty but get a weekend in jail sort of thing. Great lawyers make for interesting sentencing. And the US has more lawyers than you would think (1.3m, or 1 lawyer per 250 citizens).
In the US, there’s supposed to be a split between the 3 branches – executive (president), legislative (houses), and judicial (courts). Influence is there, but not direct impacts. In that scenario, a specific branch would come to a conclusion and another branch would take action on that decision. State/Presidential pardons fit into this. It’s common for the last act of any executive member to issue a laundry list of pardons.
Back to this case. The judicial system picked Option A. Then, without changing any of the facts, they picked Option B. What that devolves into is the perception that both Options A and B were more than influenced, they were directed by political means. And cue both sides slinging arrows at the other over “unfair”.
This is actually the worst possible outcome because one of the branches is now seen as an extension of the other branches. There are many examples of courts being used by political parties. Not a single one of those examples ended well.
Forest for the Trees
Newton’s law that for every action there’s an equal reaction does not apply to people. People’s reactions can vary from simple acceptance (no reaction) to vengeance (a disproportionate reaction). There are very few examples in history that show a society reach wild swings in reactions and manage to bring that back down to moderation. In today’s age, social media allows for a simple message that stokes people’s baser instincts. If you want to reach maximum impact, then you need a generic approach.
I have no particular penchant for either party in the US. They both have extremes that do not appeal to me. Their moderate aspects do. The decision of best approach to a problem depends on the problem. I’m much too pragmatic.
What I do have is concern at the whole of direction on my southern friends. There’s a perception that there’s no plan, that everything is a reaction to the last reaction. That stated core principles are being ignored simply for spite. And that its influence on the international stage is making the behaviour somehow seem acceptable. And with an election coming up, I don’t see how this situation gets any better. Hopefully it doesn’t escalate past a boiling point anytime soon.
Until then, it’s a heck of an effort to avoid the news cycle.