Emil Guillermo: Democracy split screen for 2024–Trump's mug shot and Biden by the banyan

Image for Emil Guillermo: Democracy split screen for 2024–Trump's mug shot and Biden by the banyan

It’s been a historic week in America. After a presidential debate featuring eight Republicans who couldn’t get arrested, we now have one Republican who can. Get arrested, that is. Four times.

He’s the Notorious DJT.

And in our strange twisted democracy, a tremendous number of Republicans still can’t quit him.

Consider the iconic images of past great presidents. Washington on the Delaware. Lincoln at Gettysburg.

Now add the presidential mug shot: Trump at the Fulton County Jail.

And you don’t have to imagine it. It’s real.

Is he Public Enemy No. 1? No, the former 45th president of the United States is just inmate P01135809.

No man is above the law, or above a mug shot. And Trump deserves it. This is the same guy we all heard on tape asking the Georgia secretary of state to find 11,780 votes. To steal an election? Let a jury decide.

Georgia is prosecuting Trump for his actions in an alleged criminal enterprise conducted with 18 others in an attempt to subvert democracy.

It’s serious business. But Trump has already begun selling his mug shot merch to adoring fans looking for a souvenir.

Republican candidates are still in fear of Donald Trump, pulling their punches if they’re punching at all.

For Asian American candidates like Nikki Haley, she’s good enough to compete in a general election, but not bad enough to win the primary.

As for Vivek Ramaswamy, he’s just as Chris Christie says: Chat GPT. Have prompt, will travel. He’s artificial intelligence posing as the energetic candidate who just wants to be the Brown Trump.

This is what happens in a democracy where too many people are still in love with a former president with a mug shot.

But we must contrast it with another recent image.


After the wildfires in Maui,Biden traveled to Hawaii last week. He stood by the banyan tree in Lahaina and said the government was going to be there for Hawaii, “for as long as it takes, we’re going to be with you.”

Biden said he’d be respectful of Hawaii’s traditions and “rebuild the way that the people of Maui want to build. not the way others want to build.”

In these times, that’s plenty enough hope. And now we’re left with a stark contrast.

In the race for president in 2024, there’s a caring Biden wearing a lei and an angry vindictive Trump in a mug shot.

Who would you trust?


NOTE: While Trump was getting processed in Georgia, I was exercising my First Amendment right in Ishmael Reed’s “The Conductor,” playing a conservative commentator. That’s acting! The play is a commentary on the current state of race in America and the fight over education. See how Indian Americans and Asian Americans play a role. It runs from Aug. 24 to Sept. 10, Thursday through Saturday at 8pm, Sunday matinees at 3pm at Theater for the New City, 155 1st Ave, NYC.

Tickets here:

PLUS: While in New York, I’m doing my own “Emil Amok, Lost NPR Host: A Phool’s History of American Filipinos.” Two shows only on Sept. 6 at 7pm, and Sept. 14 at 9:30pmat Under St. Marks Theater, 94 St. Marks Place, at 1st Ave. NYC.

Tickets here: