After a jury found Donald Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation in writer E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit against him earlier this month, various political commentators rushed to declare that the verdict would have minimal or even zero impact on Trump’s tight hold on Republican voters. Just as with past revelations, such as the infamous recording of Trump talking about grabbing women by their genitalia, they asserted that his supporters would simply dismiss or ignore the latest indictment of this terrible man.

But such assertions are too clever by half, awarding Donald Trump impervious power that he’s only too happy to claim. While it’s indeed likely that the vast majority of die-hard Trump supporters will not be swayed, there’s something tautological in staking this claim — after all, the basic definition of such a supporter is indeed someone who wouldn’t change their mind, no matter what new facts they’re presented with.

The far more relevant and worthwhile question to ask is whether more moderate GOP voters might turn against Trump due to this verdict, and on that I think an honest answer must be that the jury is still out. Certainly, if many in the media and political world repeat the line that it’s commonsensical for no minds to be changed, it could well end up having no impact. Alternately, though, one could envision a world in which opponents of Donald Trump talk up the verdict, argue for its salience, and even make direct appeals to non-MAGA Republicans that emphasize this unprecedented evidence of the former president’s essential depravity.

In a closely divided electorate, every vote counts. With Trump leading in polls of Republican primary voters, the American majority should brace itself for a third Trump presidential candidacy, and prepare to defeat him and his party once more. Whatever might diminish the size of the GOP base and GOP sympathizers should be pursued; attempting to capitalize off a legal verdict that lends greater credibility than ever to the miasma of sexual allegations around Donald Trump is the very definition of a no-brainer.

But as has so often been the case over the last few years, a focus on Trump’s loyal base and the GOP political class’ continued obeisance to him contributes to a narrative that over-emphasizes the agency of the Trumpist movement, and reduces the role of all other Americans to passive bystanders before the dark pageantry of this reactionary movement. With the Carroll verdict, a more compelling question to ask than the effect on Trump supporters is whether the judgment might further galvanize opposition to Trump and the authoritarian movement of which he’s the de facto leader. I believe the answer to this lies somewhere between a cautious and a firm “yes.” Rather than frame the verdict as just another example of unchangeable political dynamics, we should be looking at how it might impact the people who are even more important to America’s democratic future than die-hard Trump loyalists — literally every other American of voting age, who, of course, drastically outnumber those unpersuadables.

From this perspective, the verdict can be viewed as a powerful event with which to persuade, and equally importantly, to energize the pro-democracy, anti-MAGA coalition that has beaten or kept at bay reactionary forces over the last few election cycles. First, it’s a reminder that the legal system is starting to hold Donald Trump to account, augmenting the official record of his perfidy and suggesting the possibility of criminal charges being pursued to conviction in the future.

This is not the same as saying that we should be relying on the justice system to take care of Trump for us — but it is completely legitimate to point to this verdict as offering further justification for unremitting opposition to Donald Trump and the political party that continues to defend and venerate him. It is no small thing to receive such official notice that justice is on your side.

While some Republican politicians spoke out against Trump following the verdict, a sufficient number of them defended or refused to condemn him to suggest how the verdict fits into a broader case against the corruption of the party.

It is the lowest of low bars to disparage a person found liable for sexual abuse, yet leading lights in the Republican Party simply could not bring themselves to do so. Some Trump loyalists spoke up for him forthrightly; according to the New York Times, Republican Senator Bill Hagerty of Tennessee said the verdict was “yet another act in the ongoing legal circus in Manhattan to take down Donald Trump,” while South Carolina GOP. Senator Lindsey Graham remarked that, “I think you could convict Donald Trump of kidnapping Lindbergh’s baby.”

Among candidates for the GOP presidential nomination, Mike Pence remarked that he “really can’t comment on a judgment in a civil case,” yet could not help throwing Trump a lifeline by saying, “I would tell you, in my four and a half years serving alongside the president, I never heard or witnessed behavior of that nature.” Meanwhile, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley and (likely candidate) Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declined to criticize Trump.

In doing so, politicos like Pence and Haley signaled that they are more afraid of this abuser and what he might say about them, and more interested in their doomed quests to entice Trump voters, than about the maintenance of the most minimal standards of human decency. Taken as a whole, such defenses and strategies of avoidance demonstrate a basic indecency, cowardice, and unfitness for power, and remind us that the GOP’s vision for America remains one of misogyny, violence, and immorality.

(To their credit, former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie both attacked Trump in the wake of the verdict, though both are long-shot presidential candidates).

Finally, and most critically, the verdict can help the pro-democracy majority see itself more clearly as America’s dominant force, by providing it an opportunity to not only define itself by what it’s against, but by what it’s for. The American majority supports equal rights for women, and mass solidarity against rich and powerful men who would try to convince the country that misogyny and sexual violence are simply the natural order of things. Behind the verdict lies the irrevocable physical violation and psychological abuse of E. Jean Carroll, and the decent majority can empathize with her experience and judge the perpetrator accordingly. The American majority supports justice and accountability, not the propaganda of the powerful and the gaslighting of abusers. Downplaying or dismissing the import of the Carroll verdict is to play Trump’s own cynical game, and to undercut the power and moral clarity of an American majority that stands against his return to power, and stands for a more egalitarian, free, and peaceful United States.