Americans everywhere should be hesitant to celebrate the imprisonment of any individual; after all, the denial of one person’s rights anywhere makes it easier to deny the rights of others everywhere, and even those who have committed crimes usually carry within them a chance at redemption. Nonetheless, the forthcoming imprisonment of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is a staggering victory for democracy, largely because it illustrates our constitutional republic can’t be played with like it’s a toy.
Here’s why Americans and progressives should be happy that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is finally facing justice for his crimes, and how we should react to the Mueller investigation going forward.
Be happy, but don’t think this is over
The first thing that must be established is that this entire affair is far from over. Paul Manafort has only held out so long and treated federal investigators so venomously because he has no intention of going to prison for the rest of his despicable life – Manafort’s angling for a presidential pardon, and the tweeter-in-chief has given every indication that he’ll get one. It’s not all bad news on that front, however; prosecutors have managed to entangle Manafort in such a dizzying web of his own lies and crimes that state-level charges will likely be leveled against him, which no presidential pardon can save you from.
Similarly, Manafort’s entire villainous fortune is set to be seized by the government. Having worked for strongmen like Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump for years, he has untold millions stowed away that have allowed him to skirt justice. That’s about to change, however, as federal authorities are set to seize most of his fortune. This is an excellent day for the legitimacy of the United States, as it demonstrates that even criminals at the highest level of power can be held accountable and have their ill-gotten gains seized. It also illustrates that even President Trump may one day be held to account for his innumerable sins.
Progressives should essentially be toeing a line between celebration and caution and should definitely not allow this news to permit them to lower their guards. As the hounds close in on President Trump, he’s only going to get more and more anxious when he stores his belongings in portable storage pods, and everyone knows that a cornered rat has only two options – fight or die. Make no mistake about it, Manafort’s irreversible plunge into the federal prison system could be the spark that ignites the chaotic political maelstrom we’ve all been waiting for since President Trump seized office without popular support. Though we should refrain from celebrating the imprisonment of human beings in general, and work ardently to reform our broken criminal justice system, Paul Manafort’s recent criminal troubles illustrate that our system isn’t broken beyond repair. Progress is more than possible – it’s inevitable. As President Trump continues to spew lies about Russia and just about everything else under the sun, take heart in the fact that one of his closest cronies is likely to spend the rest of his life behind bars, and that he may soon have company.