If you care about democracy and justice, then you should celebrate what three Brazilian judges did on Wednesday.

Because two of three (as of my writing, one judge hasn't yet revealed his ruling) court judges ruled against former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's appeal to have a corruption conviction overturned. The decision means that unless a higher appeals court rules in his favor, Lula will be ineligible to run for president in October's election.

Instead, he'll be heading off to one of Brazil's rather unpleasant prisons — though presumably to a private cell.

None of this is easy for Brazilian society to deal with. Once adorned as the nation's savior, Lula, who served as president from January 2003 to January 2011, now joins his presidential successor, Dilma Rousseff, in ignominy. Rousseff was removed from office in August 2016 after being impeached for misleading the public over budgetary deficits.

Brazil's current president, Michel Temer, is about as popular in Brazil as President Trump is in Berkeley, Calif.

Still, as I say, Lula's smackdown is good news for Brazil. The most notable convict of Sérgio Moro's ongoing Operation Car Wash investigation into vast political-business patronage networks, Lula symbolizes a new reality in Brazil. One in which politicians, powerful business interests, and others are no longer above the law. With time, this should make Brazil's political establishment more accountable, its powerful energy and commodity industries more productive, and its people better served.

Sometimes, the road to a better future is the toughest one, but at least Brazil is finding the courage to travel it.