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CLEVELAND—For many Republicans, it’s not enough that Hillary Clinton be defeated at the polls in November. They want to see her imprisoned—or worse.
So far, the Republican National Convention has been as much about Clinton as it is about Donald Trump, who was formally nominated Tuesday. The party hoped the confab in Cleveland would allow the GOP to unify after a fractious, acrimonious primary season and maybe even begin pivoting toward the general election. On that count, we’ll give the RNC a gentleman’s incomplete so far. On the one hand, Donald Trump was formally named the nominee on Tuesday, as expected, and a slew of establishment figures—including Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—got up to speak in his favor, with as much warmth as they could muster. Meanwhile, in its first two days, the convention has been riven by procedural fights and furious reactions from anti-Trump leaders and delegates .
With Trump remaining a divisive figure, Clinton provides a useful rallying point. Some of that is garden-variety political talk, as when Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson critiqued the Clintons’ time in his state. But there’s a darker strain present, too. It’s on display during some of the most striking moments at the Quicken Loans Arena, when the hall has broken out into spontaneous chants. It’s on display in the sartorial choices around downtown Cleveland, where “Hillary for Prison” shirts seem nearly as popular as the famous “Make America Great Again” hats. It’s on display in the speeches delivered from the dais and the comments made by delegates.
Those shirts are not new, and anyone who’s attended a Trump rally (or even a Bernie Sanders rally) this year will have seen them. Styled after Clinton’s 2008 logo, they produce frantic double-takes every time I see one, thinking a Hillary backer has gone out into the fray. But they’re especially popular here.
Then there are the speeches. One of the emotional peaks of Monday’s convention slate was a short address by Patricia Smith, whose son Sean Smith was killed in the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi while stationed there by the U.S. Foreign Service. As she told her story, someone on the floor shouting “Hillary for prison!”
“That's right,” Smith replied. “Hillary for prison. She deserves to be in stripes.”
Tuesday night, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made it even more explicit. A former U.S. attorney, Christie approached his speaking slot like a prosecutor making his case against a defendant. He even asked the audience to deliver a verdict. “We must present those facts to you, a jury of her peers, both in this hall and in living rooms around our nation,” he said. “Since the Justice Department refuses to allow you to render a verdict, let’s present the case now, on the facts, against Hillary Clinton.”
The crowd was delighted to oblige. Throughout Christie’s speech, attendees broke into chants of “Lock her up! Lock her up!”
Still, these sentiments are by some measures the moderate ones. Al Baldasaro, a New Hampshire delegate who has appeared at events with Trump, railed against Clinton during a radio interview on Tuesday, as BuzzFeed ’s Andrew Kaczynzski reported .
“Hillary Clinton to me is the Jane Fonda of the Vietnam. She is a disgrace for the lies that she told those mothers about their children that got killed over there in Benghazi. She dropped the ball on over 400 emails requesting back up security. Something’s wrong there,” he said. “ This whole thing disgusts me, Hillary Clinton should be put in the firing line and shot for treason.”
On Friday, West Virginia delegate Michael Folk reached a similar conclusion, though he prescribed a different method of execution. Tweeting at Clinton, he said, “You should be tried for treason, murder and crimes against the U.S. Constitution… then hung on the Mall in Washington, D.C.”
The attitude that Clinton must be jailed or even executed is by no means universal. Some delegates seem as disgusted by the saber-rattling as they are by their nominee and the fights over rules at the convention—more signs of a party veering into populism and barbarity. Clinton is also an unusual figure in that she is plagued by some real legal problems. so it’s not just partisan animosity. But the Justice Department’s decision not to bring charges against Clinton over the use of her private email server inspired a harsh backlash. For months, Republican leaders suggested that Clinton would be indicted, despite legal experts’ consensus view that a prosecution was unlikely. When FBI Director James Comey dashed those hopes by recommending against charges, people who had gotten their hopes up were furious. Since the Justice Department won’t bring charges, people like Smith, Baldasaro, and Folk are making their own citizens’ indictments.
These “indictments” don’t carry the force of law, of course, but they do carry a worrying rhetorical weight. Around the world, it’s not uncommon for rulers who have just come to power to prosecute, imprison, and even execute their rivals or predecessors; historically, it’s probably the norm. The United States has been an international outlier—it has been exceptional. even—in its long pattern of peaceful and non-recriminative transfers of power. Even Richard Nixon, who likely could have been convicted of crimes, was pardoned by Gerald Ford. In announcing that decision, which was deeply unpopular, Ford cited the necessity of preserving American norms. It would take too long for Nixon to be tried, Ford said. “During this long period of delay and potential litigation, ugly passions would again be aroused, our people would again be polarized in their opinions, and the credibility of our free institutions of government would again be challenged at home and abroad,” he said .
Would a President Trump be inclined to engage in this kind of score-settling? It’s impossible to tell. Throughout his business career, Trump has often held long grudges and sought revenge. (By some accounts. it’s the entire motivation behind his campaign.) But even mainstream figures like Christie have talked with varying degrees of seriousness about “never let[ing Clinton] within 10 miles of the White House again.” Even if Clinton loses, quietly returns to private life, and doesn’t face any further prosecution, the scene of thousands demanding that a political rival be jailed will remain another disconcerting episode in an election packed with them.
A history of the first African American White House—and of what came next
In the waning days of President Barack Obama’s administration, he and his wife, Michelle, hosted a farewell party, the full import of which no one could then grasp. It was late October, Friday the 21st, and the president had spent many of the previous weeks, as he would spend the two subsequent weeks, campaigning for the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. Things were looking up. Polls in the crucial states of Virginia and Pennsylvania showed Clinton with solid advantages. The formidable GOP strongholds of Georgia and Texas were said to be under threat. The moment seemed to buoy Obama. He had been light on his feet in these last few weeks, cracking jokes at the expense of Republican opponents and laughing off hecklers. At a rally in Orlando on October 28, he greeted a student who would be introducing him by dancing toward her and then noting that the song playing over the loudspeakers—the Gap Band’s “Outstanding”—was older than she was.
The United States has voiced its displeasure with Israeli settlements. Or has it?
What happens when the most powerful country in the world effectively has two presidents at once? Its policy regarding one of the most complex conflicts on the planet collapses into a muddled mess.
Or, more precisely, you have what unfolded over the last 48 hours: The Egyptian government submits to the UN Security Council a resolution against Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This raises the possibility that the Obama administration could express its opposition to Israeli settlement policy by abstaining from the vote, rather than vetoing the resolution as it had with a similar one in 2011. Enraged Israeli officials call up Donald Trump, who tweets that the United States should veto. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the president of Egypt, abruptly calls off the vote. At some point during all this, Trump has a phone conversation with Sisi where they chat about jointly solving various issues in the Middle East. Anonymous Israeli officials, essentially siding with the incoming Trump administration, criticize Obama in unusually harsh terms for plotting with the Palestinians to abandon Israel at the United Nations. A day later, Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal, and Venezuela reintroduce the resolution, which comes to a vote and is adopted by the Security Council, including Egypt, with the United States abstaining. Barack Obama delivers a powerful parting message to Israel’s leaders that is powerfully undercut by Donald Trump’s opening message. “As to the U.N. things will be different after Jan. 20th,” Trump tweets shortly after the vote.
As stars avoid inauguration bookings, the president-elect tries to divide America’s population from its popular culture.
The Celebrity Apprentice president’s latest PR problem is celebrities. For weeks, reports have indicated that his inauguration team has had trouble booking any star performers: “They are willing to pay anything,” one talent representative reportedly told TheWrap after being approached by Trump’s people. The president-elect’s camp have denied that’s the case, but Elton John, Celine Dion, and KISS are among those who’ve publicly rejected rumors that they’d play the swearing-in celebrations; right now, the confirmed lineup of recognizable performers is the 16-year-old America’s Got Talent contestant Jackie Evancho, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and the Rockettes.
Last night, Trump seemed to confirm Hollywood and he weren’t making nice, tweeting. “The so-called ‘A’ list celebrities are all wanting tixs to the inauguration, but look what they did for Hillary, NOTHING. I want the PEOPLE!” It was a remark that flipped the publicized dynamic (Trump’s team approaching A-listers got swiveled the other way around) for a mix of self-congratulation and insults—a familiar maneuver by now. But the tweet also, tellingly, attempted to draw a dividing line between “the PEOPLE” and the entertainment world, making for his latest divide-and-conquer attempt against American popular culture.
The country’s first black president never pursued policies bold enough to close the racial wealth gap.
Over the next few weeks, The Atlantic will be publishing a series of responses to Ta-Nehisi Coates’s story "My President Was Black ." Readers are invited to send their own responses to [email protected] and we will post a sample of your feedback. You can read other responses to the story from Atlantic readers and contributors here .
Born in 1953, I am a child of the waning years of legal segregation in the United States. My parents, on the other hand, spent about 40 years of their lives under Jim Crow, and all of my grandparents lived most of their lives under official American apartheid. At the time of Barack Obama’s election to the presidency in 2008, my mother and all four of my grandparents were deceased. But my father was alive and well—and absolutely thrilled to have lived to see the election of a black man as president of the United States. Usually deeply cynical about American politics and politicians, my dad could not comprehend my deep reservations about Barack Obama’s leadership. Indeed, he viewed any criticism of Obama as bringing aid and comfort to white supremacists.
The main source of meaning in American life is a meritocratic competition that makes those who struggle feel inferior.
What is happening to America’s white working class?
The group’s important, and perhaps decisive. role in this year’s presidential election sparked a slew of commentary focused on, on the one hand, its nativism, racism, and sexism. and, on the other, its various economic woes . While there are no simple explanations for the desperation and anger visible in many predominantly white working-class communities, perhaps the most astute and original diagnosis came from the rabbi and activist Michael Lerner, who, in assessing Donald Trump’s victory, looked from a broader vantage point than most. Underneath the populist ire, he wrote. was a suffering “rooted in the hidden injuries of class and in the spiritual crisis that the global competitive marketplace generates.”
The Atlantic ’s editors and writers share their favorite titles—new, classic, or somewhere in between—from a year of reading.
Roadside Picnic is a book about aliens in which no aliens appear. Rather, one character hypothesizes, aliens seemed to have zipped carelessly around Earth and strewed it with trash—like roadside picnickers leaving behind wrappers and empty bottles. The scientists, smugglers, and other profiteers so drawn to these alien objects are but ants crawling through the picnic crumbs. Is this a book that makes you contemplate the smallness of humans? Absolutely. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly breezy title. Roadside Picnic was first written in Russian in 1972, and it is the very loose inspiration for the movie Stalker. An afterward to the 2012 English translation describes Soviet efforts to censor the book, which seems somehow newly relevant in America.
The lonely poverty of America’s white working class
For the last several months, social scientists have been debating the striking findings of a study by the economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton.* Between 1998 and 2013, Case and Deaton argue, white Americans across multiple age groups experienced large spikes in suicide and fatalities related to alcohol and drug abuse—spikes that were so large that, for whites aged 45 to 54, they overwhelmed the dependable modern trend of steadily improving life expectancy. While critics have challenged the magnitude and timing of the rise in middle-age deaths (particularly for men ), they and the study’s authors alike seem to agree on some basic points: Problems of mental health and addiction have taken a terrible toll on whites in America—though seemingly not in other wealthy nations—and the least educated among them have fared the worst.
Narcissism, disagreeableness, grandiosity—a psychologist investigates how Trump’s extraordinary personality might shape his possible presidency.
I n 200 6. D on al d Trump made plans to purchase the Menie Estate, near Aberdeen, Scotland, aiming to convert the dunes and grassland into a luxury golf resort. He and the estate’s owner, Tom Griffin, sat down to discuss the transaction at the Cock & Bull restaurant. Griffin recalls that Trump was a hard-nosed negotiator, reluctant to give in on even the tiniest details. But, as Michael D’Antonio writes in his recent biography of Trump, Never Enough. Griffin’s most vivid recollection of the evening pertains to the theatrics. It was as if the golden-haired guest sitting across the table were an actor playing a part on the London stage.
“It was Donald Trump playing Donald Trump,” Griffin observed. There was something unreal about it.
Science can’t prove it and the industry denies it, but Gary Taubes is convinced that the sweet stuff kills.
“I hope that when you have read this book I shall have convinced you that sugar is really dangerous,” wrote John Yudkin in his foghorn-sounding treatise on nutrition from 1972, Pure, White and Deadly. Sugar’s rapid rise to prominence in the Western diet, starting in the mid-19th century, had coincided with a sudden outbreak of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Yudkin, one of the United Kingdom’s most prominent nutritionists at the time, believed that one had caused the other.
Then, as now, there was no decisive test of his idea—no perfect way to make the case that sugar kills. It’s practically impossible to run randomized, controlled experiments on human diets over many years, so the brief against sugar, like the case against any other single foodstuff, must be drawn from less reliable forms of testimony: long-term correlations, animal experiments, evolutionary claims, and expert judgments. In Pure, White and Deadly. Yudkin offered all of these as “circumstantial evidence rather than absolute proof” of his assertion. But so many suspicious facts had already accumulated by 1972, he claimed, that it would be foolish to ignore them. Even based on circumstantial evidence, readers should be convinced “beyond reasonable doubt” of sugar’s crime against humanity.
The fourth in a series of conversations between the president and Ta-Nehisi Coates
In “My President Was Black ,” The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates examined Barack Obama’s tenure in office, and his legacy. The story was built, in part, around a series of conversations he had with the president. This is a transcript of the final of those four encounters, which took place by phone after the election, on November 17, 2016. You can find the other interviews, as well as responses to the story and to these conversations, here .
Obama: Well, I’m doing fine. I’m in Germany, so this is how I roll this week, I guess. I guess I’ve got some business back home in between doing my business out here.
In a short animation, Barack Obama speaks with Ta-Nehisi Coates about his road to the White House.
From a moral standpoint, it makes the world worse.
A short film on the popular American sport, and why it deserves a better reputation