THE nightmare that was Donald Trump’s presidency is far from over. The roots that led to the extraordinary phenomenon, the dark synergy of inter-generational poverty, liberal failure and wild conspiracism have not begun to be addressed never mind resolved and so he goes on (and on).

Now he stands indicted. For the first time in American history, legal charges have been brought against a president for attempting to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power that until January 6, 2021, had stood as a basic assumption of the “world’s greatest democracy” (sic).

The cases test the very idea of “loser’s consent”, the idea that elections are thought to be fair and their results should be accepted. Now anyone with a passing knowledge of US politics would know that not all is well in US politics. Corruption, dark money, pork-barrel politics and nefarious PACS are just a flavour of the land. This is Nixonland.

The former British ambassador Craig Murray tweeted: “Only the Democratic Party in the USA could be so stupid as to make Donald Trump appear to be in the right. Attempting to jail your main opponent ahead of an election is never a good look.”

The consequence of such analysis must be that prosecuting Trump for any of the multiple charges against him would be wrong, somehow, because of the optics of such an act? From Murray’s vantage point Trump is above the law, and rightly so.

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But as the Guardian writer Jonathan Freedland points out: “... just because we can’t claim to be surprised does not mean we shouldn’t be shocked. Several crucial principles are at stake in this case. One is that every vote must count: the victims of Trump’s conspiracy were the tens of millions of Americans who voted for Biden, whose ballots would have been cast aside had the former president prevailed.

“Another is that nobody is above the law. While Trump claims to be the victim of political persecution, the truth is that it would have been an intensely political decision not to pursue him, especially when more than 1000 of his devotees have been charged for storming the Capitol on January 6, 2021. If they can be prosecuted for seeking to overturn the 2020 election, why can’t he?”

But there are deeper issues at stake. He continues: “But perhaps the central principle at stake here is that there is such a thing as the truth. Trump has challenged that notion from the very start. Not just by lying – he’s not the first politician to do that – but by seeking to shake public faith in the very idea that truth is even possible.”

It’s often been said that “Post-Truth is Pre-Fascism” and this is what is at stake. It is not about defending Hillary, or supporting Obama or being pro-Biden and all the egregious failings of the US Democrats and the wider failed political system they represent, it is about defending truth. You do not have to be blind to the deep social and cultural forces, born from a broken economy and a desolate social media culture that gave birth to Trumpism to be alive to the greater risks at play here.

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Jack Smith’s indictment presents a devastating case laced with telling details that are impossible to refute.

“Lies” and “fraud” are the key words that spool out of Smith’s meticulously researched case.

Truth matters.

The writer Ed Pilkington has noted: “Familiar though they are, some of the details remain just too delicious for Smith not to recount. He recalls that during the notorious call between Trump and Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, in which the president asked him to “find” 11,780 votes, the defendant also claimed that 5000 dead people had voted.

“The actual number were two,” Raffensperger replied. “Two. Two people that were dead that voted.” Two.

Like the “birther” conspiracies that swirled around the Obama election, the facts are out there. The next US election will be a climate election and an election about truth. The consequences are dire not just for planetary survival but for the very concept of truth. As we face down these twin realities we realise how they are intertwined.

Of course it is worth remembering that prosecuting Trump has no consequence for his base. In fact, legal action has the opposite effect.

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It’s an act of self-confirmation for his followers that the Deep State is in fact out to get him. From Nixon on, the whiff of criminality – or sexual indiscretion – would have been career-ending crises. But for Trump, even backed by the Christian Right, there is no such impact. He has made the state and federal charges – now a combined 78 across three jurisdictions – against him a central plank of his campaign platform, casting himself as victim and martyr.

This has several dire consequences. The first is that a large section of the US general public still believe – despite overwhelming evidence and facts to the contrary – that Trump won the last election. Dominion sued Fox News for $1.6 billion for defamation. Yet “Stop the Steal” lives. These people are living in a delusion sustained and cultivated by mainstream politicians and media. In a further disgraceful abdication of any sense of public duty, virtually no-one in the Republican Party is calling this out. Trump’s MAGA followers have effectively taken over occupied and infested an entire political party.

Does any of this matter?

In terms of the descent of standards in public office or the nature and tone of political debate, it does. If anything the only real challenge to Trump is from the right. Ron DeSantis’s campaign and Never Back Down had a combined $109 million in the bank at the end of June, well above the combined $53m of Trump’s campaign and his allied Super Pac, known as Maga Inc, according to financial disclosures to the Federal Elections Commission.

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But the DeSantis rhetoric is even more extreme than Trump’s. At a campaign BBQ event in New Hampshire he said: “All of these deep state people, you know, we’re going to start slitting throats on day one.”

His wealthy backers have been getting cold feet as his rhetoric plays to the far far right.

In an attempt to steady his campaign, he has hinted that he would appoint the anti-vaxxer Democrat Robert F Kennedy Jr.

He then came out with an extraordinary statement in support of Florida’s new academic standards for the teaching of Black history including the claim that slaves “developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit”,

Only the former New Jersey governor Chris Christie has actually called out Trump. As Sidney Blumenthal, the former senior adviser to Bill Clinton has put it: “Unlike DeSantis, Christie does not want to edge out Trump in order to be Trump. He wants to prosecute him, as “a liar and a coward”. Among Republicans, though, Christie is polling at 3%.

There is a sense that the monster that Murdoch, Koch and the Republican stooges created is now completely out of control and the damage to the constitution, the national security of the United States and the rule of law are visible to all – but so too is the irreparable damage to women’s rights.

But perhaps worst of all of Trump’s legacy is the damage to the quality of public discourse, the acceptance of violence as a language and the denial of simple truths about reality.

We are off the map now and there is the terrible possibility that Trump’s indictments – rather than making him unfit for office – will propel him into it, the Biden gerontocracy, and issuing in an era even darker than his previous reign.