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Wisdom of Crowds

Aug 11, 2022

The FBI's surprise "raid" on Donald Trump's residence in Mar-a-Lago this week has been hailed in some quarters as a triumph for the rule of law, and seen in others as signs of a slide into banana-republic status. We invited Jason Willick, a Washington Post columnist who writes on legal issues, to sit down with us and discuss the deeper implications of the event.

True to the Crowd's ethos, we focused on fundamental issues. Jason argued that the polarized reactions to the raid show the difficulty of having federal-level law enforcement in an increasingly divided political climate. Shadi and Damir went back on forth on the question of justice: should law enforcement be entirely impartial, or must prosecutors exercise discretion based on the political context? Does one side bear more blame for our current spiral of mistrust and polarization, or is the problem systemic?

In Part 2 of our conversation (available here for paying subscribers) things got a little heated, as we debated what might restore Americans' belief in democracy. Shadi went (in his own words) "unplugged," talking about his hopes for restoring democratic values. Might a South-Africa-style "truth and reconciliation" commission be appropriate? Damir is skeptical.

And finally, the three conclude with a discussion of whether America can pull out of the spiral. Shadi believes that we need a recovery of civic virtue. Damir thinks the national culture is no longer able to sustain democratic values. And Jason raises the point that full scale democratic backsliding is unlikely, given the size of our country. Ultimately, the choice to reject the polarization cycle will be up to voters– a conclusion both optimistic and pessimistic.

Required Reading:

  • "An Informer Told the FBI What Docs Trump Was Hiding, And Where," by William H. Arkin (Newsweek).
  • Bill Barr's speech at Hillsdale College.
  • "The Problem of Donald Trump Didn't Start with Donald Trump," by Damir (Gen, on Medium).
  • Jason Tweeting about the Espionage Act.
  • Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Tweeting about the American "regime."
  • "Is Trump Crazy— or calculating? His opponents will have to decide," by Jason (The Washington Post).