One of the many (other) things that long has separated American politics from those of countries in chaos, undergoing violent revolution or in the throes of dictatorship, is that we don't imprison the political loyal opposition.
We don't call for it, either, at least not much. Some people, largely unassociated with organized political activity, have made such calls on occasion in the last 15 years or so. But it's not been part of the campaigns of major candidates, and those major candidates haven't offered support for the idea . . . until this year.
The National Republican Convention was an almost endless chorus of "lock her up!" - her referring to Hillary Clinton (the name hardly needed to be said), and the for what? being, well, unclear. Lock her up for something, apparently.
Actually, something intended to be a bill of goods was once presented, when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie positioned himself as prosecutor and the convention delegates as jury - there being, evidently, no need for a judge or for a defense - seeking to build a case against her. It wasn't much of a case. But even if it were, the sense of what was going on here was stunning: A national party convention turned into a pitchforks-and-torches mob, seeking not what party delegates usually do - electoral victory for themselves, defeat for the other guys - but imprisonment, conviction. In the case of those insisting on a conviction for treason, more than that. This was a national party convention turned into a lynch mob.
The peak of that activity preceded Donald Trump's acceptance speech, but it was all of a piece, and it has replicated, over and over, at Trump rallies. We don't want to defeat Hillary and the Democrats. We want to destroy them.
For a while Trump seemed to distance himself, a little, from the "lock her up" business.
But then, speaking on July 29 at Colorado Springs (as reported by CNN), he said: "I've been saying 'let's just beat her on November 8th'. But you know what, I'm starting to agree with you. . . . You know, it's interesting. Every time I mention her, everyone screams 'lock her up, lock her up.' They keep screaming. And you know what I do? I've been nice. . . But after watching that performance (by Clinton at the Democratic National Convention) last night - such lies - I don't have to be so nice anymore. I'm taking the gloves off."
Actually, that was a return to what he had been saying for some time. As the Washington Post noted, "In reality, Trump has made comments for months on the campaign trail about Clinton belonging in prison."
And - oh yeah - he called for Hillary Clinton's imprisonment in his rally on October 1.
Remmber Nixon’s enemies lists? How quaint. - rs