If your stomach can handle it without producing ulcers, let’s return to the 2016 Republican National Convention, what seems to be the birthplace of “lock her up,” the chant calling for Hillary Clinton to go to jail for her crime of sending emails on the wrong server (and also for being a woman who ran for president). MAGA Republicans subjected the general public to “lock her up” for years—but now they want to back off a bit.
Fox News host Jesse Watters, in particular, wants you to forget that this chant was specifically calling for the imprisonment of a political opponent. On Tuesday, Watters insisted that the years of chanting “lock her up” was a “joke” because Clinton was never actually arrested. “The ‘lock her up’ was a joke. Trump never indicted Crooked,” Watters told his audience. [Editor’s note: To those still suffering from MAGA brainworms, “Crooked” means Clinton.] “But they’re going after him hard.”
“They” meaning the multiple jurisdictions across the country where Trump faces charges, but most pressingly, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Trump himself said he’ll be arrested on Tuesday in New York, but that came and went. The Manhattan grand jury will not hear evidence against Trump on Wednesday but is on standby for Thursday, which means charges against him may come by the end of the week. The case stems from evidence that Trump reimbursed his then-lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen for the $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence near the end of the 2016 election and tried to keep both payments out of his accounting services.
Other officials who could (in theory) lock up Trump are Georgia officials who are investigating that pesky phone call where Trump asked officials to find him 11,780 votes; or the special counsel whose office is investigating his repeated mishandling of classified documents as well as the former president’s role in the insurrection at the Capitol after he lost the 2020 election.
But the barrage of investigations is, of course, merely proof of an anti-Trump conspiracy, according to Watters. “They never cared what Trump was arrested for. They just want him behind bars. They aren’t prosecuting a crime; they’re prosecuting a person,” Watters said on Tuesday night while a graphic of Donald Trump overlaid with “Dems’ Wish List” is displayed next to the anchor.
With all that mind, Watters seems to think that since locking Trump up is an actual possibility now, the MAGA rallying cry of “lock her up” should be seen as a joke! The hypocrisy is thicker than a diner milkshake.
“Lock her up” hasn’t only applied to Clinton. Because a tenet of MAGAism is hatred of women, the chant has included Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) in 2018; Clinton again just a day later; and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) in 2020. But the chant also applies to President Joe Biden and his bumbling son Hunter. You’re telling me they’ve been joking this whole time as they continually move their only coherent political message—jail your enemies—from target to target? Suuuuuure.
This wasn’t a one-off, either. Watters has been on this all week. On The Five on Monday, Watters said: “They better not put my president in prison. He represents 74 million Americans, and if he’s the nominee, you’re putting 74 million votes in prison.”
When a woman on the panel expressed skepticism, Watters reacted by calling it “a bookkeeping charge,” adding: “He put a payment to a woman in the legal column. That was in the wrong column? Hillary put the dossier in the same column and she got a fine.”
Complaining that putting a politician in prison is akin to putting all their votes in prison is so stupid I feel I don’t even need to respond to it, but since you’ve gotten this far, I will: We live in a country where people go to prison for just about anything! That’s not necessarily good, but I promise you that your political speech will not be harmed because one (1) man might go to prison.
Because remember: Trump hasn’t even been arrested yet! So until he’s actually (if ever) locked up, it would be a good time to take a step back and look at the mess your party created. And maybe start brainstorming a new chant.