Opinion: Happy Indictment Day … now let’s fix our democracy

  • Leonard Pitts
  • Miami Herald
12:00 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017 Opinion

In the last episode of the first season of “Daredevil,” there’s this great montage of arrests as the Kingpin’s empire falls. The FBI swoops down, and you see all the crooked cops, corrupt politicians, and henchmen belonging to the New York City crime lord collected like garbage. It is, in the context of that Netflix superhero drama, a very satisfying moment.

In the context of real life, it would be even more so. That’s what accounts for the glee with which the likes of Keith Olbermann and Ava DuVernay began retweeting over the weekend a clip first posted to YouTube in August. In it, a talented someone calling themselves 1oneclone repurposes the “Daredevil” montage to devastating effect.

In the new clip, it’s Michael Flynn, not some mobster, hauling you-know-what with an army of FBI men in hot pursuit. Steve Bannon is led out with his hands cuffed behind him as James Comey gazes on in quiet satisfaction. Kellyanne Conway is still chattering as she is arrested. And there goes the big man himself, jaw jutting pugnaciously, as he is hauled away.

The clip is — no pun intended — a marvel. And it neatly captured the mood on much of social media as people awaited Monday, when, according to CNN, the first fruits of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the Trump administration would be unsealed. Folks dubbed it a spontaneous holiday: Indictment Day.

Well, Indictment Day did not disappoint, bringing a 12-count bill of charges against former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and adviser Rick Gates, albeit for money laundering and other alleged crimes with no known connection to the failed president. More ominous for Trump, though, was news that an obscure adviser, George Papadopoulos, had earlier secretly pleaded guilty to charges of lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts and was cooperating with the investigation.

So Indictment Day may soon come around again.

Not to kill the joy of that possibility, but a reminder seems prudent here. Even if Indictment Day comes a dozen times more, even if the man himself is felled, none of it changes what needs changing.

In March of 2016, I wrote about what America should do “after Trump.” Got much of it wrong, including downplaying the possibility of his election. But one thing said then holds up: Trump is a product of fear, intolerance, incoherence and ignorance. And those things would survive him.

After all, they grew strong and bold in recent years as some of us made expedient decisions to which morality was a stranger. Exhibit A: the Republican Party’s choice to embrace an ethos of chaos — think tea party mobs and birth certificate lies — because it was politically useful. And to ignore the damage this wrought.

Now we’re paying the price for that short-sightedness. And after Trump, assuming America isn’t a nuclear wasteland or two countries by then — possibilities that seem less remote than they once did — confronting the forces that brought us here must be Job One for faith leaders, news media, activists and educators. Indeed, all people of conscience will have a simple mission: Drive fear, intolerance, incoherence and ignorance off the main stage of American politics.

It is, yes, gratifying to see a video where all this president’s men and women are carted away by the feds. It is even more gratifying to see them face the music in real life.

What ails us, though, will be fixed not by indictments, but by engagement and education. It will take time. And truth is, “after Trump” is too long to wait.

So, I hope you enjoyed Indictment Day. Now, let’s get back to work.

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