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Wisdom of Crowds

Mar 10, 2023

With Ron DeSantis embracing an aggressively illiberal agenda of cultural reaction, how worried should we be? This week on the podcast, The New Republic's Osita Nwanevu—one of the most original leftist thinkers working today—joined us to debate the future of the Republican Party and the dangers of 2024. Very quickly, the conversation morphed into a spirited exchange on whether it's American institutions—or the madness of crowds—that explains the GOP's sharp turn to the right on questions of culture and identity.

Osita argues that the GOP as an institution is dangerous. It has taken advantage of existing political institutions to promote anti-democratic values and rule as a minoritarian party even as it claims to represent the views and grievances of a sometimes silent majority. We also discuss whether Republican messaging against "wokeness" is truly a winning issue with voters—and what this says for prospects of an outright GOP victory in 2024.  

(And, yes: we also touched on Osita's preference that the U.S. Constitution be abolished.)

In Part 2 (available here for subscribers), Damir sets out a dark theory. Could the arrival of true mass democracy, where social media makes everyone far too interested in politics, actually be encouraging demagoguery? And can a democratic system withstand repeated assaults by such unscrupulous political entrepreneurs? Shadi's more optimistic on balance, seeing conflict as a sign of democratic health. And Osita sticks to his institutionalist guns. Believe it or not, the episode ends on a cautious note of optimism.

Required Reading:

  • "Trump has a better shot at the Republican nomination than people realize," by Osita Nwanevu (Guardian).
  • "The Constitution is the Crisis," by Osita Nwanevu (New Republic).
  • "DeSantis Derangement Syndrome and the Return of Mass Panic," by Shadi Hamid (Substack).
  • "My Fellow Liberals Are Exaggerating the Dangers of Ron DeSantis," by Damon Linker (NYT).
  • "Ron DeSantis is Not a Fascist," by Damon Linker (Substack)