opinion | Trump can be prosecuted. America faces a test.

Naturally, Donald Trump took to social media speculate that he would be arrested on Tuesday of this week and – big surprise – that turned out not to be true.

Of course he tries to stir up his followers with the prospect of their beloved leader being prosecuted, and at the same time he uses that to squeeze them for more money.

Of course, many Republicans not only rush to defend Trump armed with a quiver of false equivalences, but also look for every opportunity to bash Democrats and call them hypocrites for trying to hold Trump accountable.

Of course, many Democrats, on the one hand, revel in the idea that the indictments could stick with Slick Donald, but on the other hand, they’re tying themselves in the knot because they’re worried whether an indictment will actually strengthen his position with his base.

If a former president is indicted, it will be unprecedented. But the atmosphere will be all too familiar, a sort of political déjà vu, as we remain mired in a repeating cycle of Trump-era platitudes: the defense of seasoned political acolytes, the rapid erosion of norms, and a crippling restraint Amongst them. who could check his abuse of power.

It’s impossible to fully play out the legal and political ramifications of impeaching Trump, but with the public hungry for theories and pundits bent over backwards to provide them, we’ve been inundated with reports of what happens next.

But I challenge you to tune it all out.

We know Trump and how he works. He tries – and often succeeds – to turn his negatives into positives, denying his wrongdoings while accusing those who try to hold him accountable as the real culprits.

Trump’s strategy from the very beginning of his political foray has been to discredit or destroy the gatekeepers, in politics and the media, who might one day be called upon to expose him. (“Low energy” Jeb Bush, anyone?) He keeps labeling them as weak, dishonest and out to get everyone to support him.

And whenever an attempt to hold him accountable does not have the most appropriate consequences, he takes it as a victory and the “failure” of the attempt as proof of its illegality. He then weaves it all together in his rhetoric to bolster his claim that all investigations into him and members of his inner circle amount to a campaign of political intimidation.

In a video Trump issued early Tuesday morning, he railed that the “terrible, radical leftist, Democratic investigation of your all-time favorite president, me, is just a continuation of the most disgusting witch hunt in our country’s history,” adding: “It’s gone for always.”

He then goes on to call Robert Mueller’s special counsel’s investigation into his campaign’s communications with Russia during the 2016 election “a hoax,” claiming that investigators “spyed even on my campaign.” He then connects new investigations – the classified documents investigation, the Georgia election interference investigation, and the allegations of hush money payments to Stormy Daniels.

Trump will never do that not be this guy. He will never budge or repent in the face of any accusation. He’s going to fight. And that is exactly why his people worship him. Therefore, they will continue to support and defend him. They want to be like him: not forced to back down, even when they’re wrong.

Trump understands this intuitively, so he constantly feeds the idea that he is their proxy in the ideological war. “They’re not coming after me,” he said in the same video, “they’re coming after you. I’m just in their way, and I’ll always be in their way.”

Republican officials and strategists who want to remain Republican officials and strategists know this too. So most either join Trump’s denunciation of the prosecutors or remain silent.

Democrats know this too, and it worries them.

But in the end they can’t let that happen. There is no world in which Trump’s supporters will accept if he is punished. Trying to find common ground with them when it comes to Trump is a fool’s errand. They will get angry. Let them.

Republicans will charge prosecutors with bias and excess. Let them.

Trump will scream like a baby. Let him.

We are at a point in the nation’s history where we are called to endure what I call the discomfort of the necessary, a point where something is morally right – and morally unavoidable – but the political timing is problematic.

We’ve been through these moments before, and all too often we’ve eschewed the moral stance for the political one — from letting Reconstruction fail and allowing Jim Crow to rise, to delaying LGBTQ recognition rights, to the turnaround in police reform in the face of a public panic about crime.

Moving forward, unashamedly and justly, with the prosecution of Trump is another test our country faces and another chance our country has to make the right – or wrong – choice.

History is always watching and always recording.

Trump will not be well remembered. He will, I think, be a marker of one of the times when the country has been closest to itself. The question that remains to be answered is how the rest of us will be remembered.