Forever it will be my image of Election Night 2016.

Homeward bound just as the polls were closing, I was passing through the placid and aptly named city of Loveland, Colo.

Deep in contemplation about the fate of our nation, I was stunned as I arrived at a street corner jammed with red-clad people yelling something.

Then I got near enough to see their signs and hear the chant: “Lock her up.”

By now, I realize I shouldn’t have been surprised. That moment, however, I was stunned.

I’d heard that chant on TV — in rallies fit for torch-bearers with shoulder patches. This time, it sent my mind reeling — to see this rhetoric had filtered down to where I presumed all to be civil and civilized.

I’m sure that not a single one of the people I saw there that night believe at this point that Donald Trump has done anything wrong as president. Nothing. Not one thing.

He always tells the truth. About hush money. About contacts with Russians. About compromising business entanglements. About attempting to extort political favors from a besieged nation with our tax dollars.

Similarly:

These people were unanimous, I know, in calling it un-American the other night to damper Trump’s World Series with boos and a “Lock him up” chant.

Clearly, this is a legal dispute. Doesn’t Trump own the copyright to that line?

I agree with Trump supporters. Booing debases the presidency. Additionally, after nearly three embarrassing years, Trump owns exclusive rights to debasement of his office.

Those who stood at the corner that night undoubtedly exhausted a month’s worth of rage last year when NFL players took a knee to express their concerns about this nation.

Those players love this country every bit as much as any sunshine patriot — surely as much as one who would prostrate himself before Vladimir Putin and claim that his name in golden chrome atop a tower in Moscow was the last thing on his mind.

The ludicrous moral equivalency of the “Lock her up crowd” — and the hypocrisy — is staggering. The bid this week to trash administration insiders who testified to what they saw regarding Trump’s pressuring Ukraine is shameful.

This is particularly true since all they are attesting to is what is clearly evident in the phone call that set off the current round of investigations. Yes, what we have seen with our own eyes.

But these efforts at character assassination are par for the course. They hark back to the “swiftboating” of John Kerry, who shed blood in Vietnam and whose service there somehow was called into question to benefit the campaign of one who pulled strings to never serve.

We now witness the Fox News chorus try to slime a decorated veteran, Alexander Vindman, for telling what he saw and what he knows to be true regarding Ukraine. Compare his character to the billionaire’s son who took his bone spurs to the bank. No comparison.

Something similar was afoot in the (too successful) effort to paint Hillary Clinton as “crooked,” when the Republicans were nominating a con man who showed how bankruptcy can be the road to fortune and fame.

Lest we recall that one of the people shouting “Lock her up” before a red-clad crowd was one of the first Trump figures to be indicted, Michael Flynn, who engaged in illegal diplomacy with Russia before he was even employed by us.

One person in the background was Trump fixer Michael Cohen, now behind bars for, um, being Trump’s fixer.

Yes — sent to prison for doing things at the behest of a man who roundly deserves all the derision bystanders to his activities can muster.

Lock whom up?

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. E-mail: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

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