Democracies have prosecuted corrupt leaders — America can too

According to Axis Research, since 2000, at least 76 countries have jailed or prosecuted their former leaders.

Many were democracies, including established functioning ones such as Brazil, Israel, France, and South Korea. America is the exception; no former president has been indicted for a crime.

Has our image of exceptionalism, seeing ourselves as the most democratic and free republic, enthralled us from applying the law to our former leaders? Prosecuting former President Donald Trump may break that spell.

In a democratic republic, after their term in office ends, the person who was the executive returns to the same status as everyone else; being a citizen of that nation — a nation where all citizens have the same legal rights and responsibilities. Consequently, a former executive must obey the laws, no matter how long they served as the executive or how popular they were while in office. This is the second important characteristic of a democratic republic.

This adherence to the laws is not true of countries that label themselves as “republics” where the executive obtains or remains in office without being freely elected. As a result, the law never applies to the executive, e.g., the Republic of Cuba, Republic of China, Republic of Belarus, etc., Or a “banana republic,” which some Republicans accuse our government of becoming when the FBI began investigating Trump for violating the law.

A test measuring a democratic republic’s durability is when a former executive must submit to the law. It not only stresses that nation’s institutions but also that society’s culture of accepting the democratic process.

If former President Donald Trump is indicted for a crime that the FBI is investigating, we will face that test. Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon accused former Vice President Mike Pence of being “Just a disgusting coward” when Pence asked Republicans to stop attacking the FBI over searching Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s residence, and private clubhouse. In describing the search, Bannon said, “We’re talking about a police state.”

Senator Lindsay Graham followed up with a similar attitude, cautioning that there could be “rioting in the streets” if Trump were indicted. Who was…