Jaimes: There is no politeness in politics. How do we change that?

Trials for Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort show the dark side of politics.



Trump attorney Michael Cohen exits the Federal Court House at 500 Pearl Street in Manhattan on Thursday April 26, 2018 after a hearing before Judge Kimba Wood. (Susan Watts/New York Daily News/TNS)

Marina Jaimes, Opinion Columnist

Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone … one could only wonder how these men came to be and how their empires have crashed suddenly, after years of corruption and manipulation.

Cohen, a former lawyer for President Donald Trump, admitted making illegal payments to two women to keep them from informing the public of their affairs with the then-candidate. This not only violated campaign-finance laws but was added to other charges he pled guilty to, such as tax evasion and bank fraud.

Manafort, a former campaign chairman for Trump, was found guilty last week of tax fraud, bank fraud, and one count of failure to disclose a foreign bank account. Manafort’s finances included millions of dollars that he made overseas. He has a second trial scheduled for next month on charges brought by the special counsel. They include obstruction of justice, failure to register as a foreign agent, and conspiracy to launder money.

Roger Stone, a former aide to the president, believes he is next to be indicted as Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigates the 2016 presidential election. In emails sent to supporters, Stone requests donations toward his legal fund. Having seen other Trump allies convicted of crimes, he fears his time will come soon, too.

All three were heavily tied to politics. Although they were not politicians themselves, they had a hand in elections and benefited from the candidates they supported.

We will not change the nature of politics, but we can focus on our response to it, whether it be by voting or by media attention to the consequences Cohen and Manafort now face.

The nature of politics can be described as “poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” While I disagree with Thomas Hobbes that human beings are naturally driven by fear and personal gain, I think it is true for the political world we live in. Politics has become so polarized that officials have found themselves above certain policies because they believe they are working toward the greater good. Continued lawlessness creates a slippery slope until justice is finally served, as seen in the Manafort and Cohens cases.

The “Trump Era” has created a generation of politically motivated young adults who will have to one day make important choices when faced with pay-to-play politics, threats, and intimidation tactics that could mean ending their careers. For their sake, we should continue to encourage morality in politics and shame those who have allowed the betterment of society to be compromised for political gain. We will not change the nature of politics, but we can focus on our response to it, whether it be by voting or by media attention to the consequences Cohen and Manafort now face.

I know that I, along with many of my classmates, hope to make a difference in society and can learn from mistakes others before us have made. Personally, I don’t know if there’s a place for me in this political atmosphere we’re currently in. I have seen more of the dirty side of politics in just a few days than I hoped I would in a lifetime, but Manafort and Cohen serve as a great example of what not to do.