Progressives Are Never Happy

Why Are Progressive Pundits Unhappy that Trump Has Been Indicted?

George Bohan
4 min readApr 17, 2023
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Progressives seem never to be happy with good news. Back when the Biden/Harris ticket won the presidency, we were inundated with articles bemoaning the President’s and the Vice President’s alleged shortcomings. Now we’re hearing how unhappy progressives are with the case brought against Donald Trump by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post tells us, “That is a scary situation when it comes to the first criminal charges ever lodged against a former president.”

David Frum (and, yes, I know that he’s no one’s idea of a progressive but he has been a fervent anti-Trump voice) is wringing his hands in The Atlantic: “[The indictment is] going to be a hell of a thing to explain to future generations.”

Jonathan Chait, formerly of The New Republic and The American Prospect, tells us sternly that “[Trump] does not deserve to be prosecuted for this particular charge.”

Breathlessly invoking history and precedent, Peter Baker of the New York Times, has this to say: “For all of the focus on the tawdry details of the case or its novel legal theory or its political impact, the larger story is of a country heading down a road it has never traveled before, one fraught with profound consequences for the health of the world’s oldest democracy.

One has to wonder why otherwise smart pundits are so eager to take Trump’s side in this matter (make no mistake, that’s exactly what they’re doing). Are progressives so wary of our systems of jurisprudence that they assume even brigands like Donald Trump should be given extraordinary consideration? Or are they simply being contrary for its own sake in an effort to attract eyeballs? Given the facts of the case, it is difficult not to assume the latter.

One hears that these charges are small potatoes and one of the other cases should have gone first. This claim is often made by pundits who, almost in the same breath, insist that care be taken that any case brought against Trump to avoid the appearance of political maneuvering. (“Law and order” conservatives, of course, are all for letting important people like Donald Trump be coddled by our justice system, claiming that holding them accountable for their actions is “politicizing the power of the judicial system”. It’s disappointing to hear progressives agreeing with this point of view.)

District Attorney Bragg is, of course, under no mandate to consider what charges other jurisdictions might or might not bring against Trump. Such considerations are and should be irrelevant to Mr. Bragg. His mandate is to uphold and enforce the law only in Manhattan. He gathered the facts as they related to laws in New York. He put those facts in front of a New York grand jury that voted to enforce those state laws with an indictment. Mr. Bragg’s responsibilities begin and end with the laws and procedures of New York. The same is true for Special Counsel Jack Smith and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. How these three individuals might have coordinated their cases is never addressed by the pundits. The notion that, somehow, they should have engaged in such coordination is ridiculous at best and harmful at worst.

Worse, the claim of “small potatoes’’ suggests that important people should be let off the hook for crimes that other important people deem to be unimportant. Frum’s claim that “[I]t’s unlikely that a normal business owner would have been caught, because such behaviors would scarcely have excited enough prosecutorial interest to motivate an investigation,” was directly refuted by Bragg who indicated that these sorts of charges are made frequent in his district. When Mr. Bragg says that the charges get at ‘bread and butter issues’ ‘, he’s not saying that they’re unimportant. He’s saying that his office frequently sees this sort of misbehavior and frequently brings charges against the perpetrators. Not to have charged Donald Trump would have been giving him consideration that’s not available to others who allegedly commit similar transgressions.

We hear that Bragg’s case is weak. Yet, it was strong enough to get a grand jury to vote for indictment. We’ve been told that there’s no evidence beyond what we already knew to be true. That might be accurate but, why is it relevant? We already knew that Donald Trump was named (albeit as “Individual 1”) in an indictment that led to Michael Cohen spending time in a federal prison. We already knew that Donald Trump wrote checks to reimburse Cohen for payments made to a porn star to conceal an affair with her a few weeks before an election. We already knew that Trump lied about those payments. We already knew that the National Inquirer made payments to Karen McDougal to keep her story of an affair with Trump secret. We already knew that the National Inquirer admitted making those payments in order to help Trump’s campaign. How much “new evidence” should Mr. Bragg be compelled to show before the pundits are satisfied?

Trump is innocent until proven guilty, of course. We all know that. We will know more about the viability of the case against him as it develops. All that said, the recent wringing of hands by journalists and pundits who hold comfortable seats within the wealthiest and most powerful of outlets is unseemly. It’s simply a case of the well-to-do being outraged that one of their own, even if of different ideology, might be subject to the same laws as the rest of us.



George Bohan

Born and raised in the South, living in Ohio. Writes about politics and management.