Mar-a-Lago Thuggery

The leading theory about the motive for the Mar-a-Lago raid is that Trump’s political enemies are trying to stop him from a 2024 presidential bid. Second place is the dull and naïve assumption that justice was simply being carried out: in other words, that a former president of the United States is suspected of having broken the law and therefore needed to be raided by the FBI.

Assuming the first theory is correct, one has to marvel at the grand-scale thuggery of the thing. This is the stuff of banana republics. This is the dreaded shakedown by muscle from the mob. Prior to the arrival in 2016 of the self-touted swamp drainer, such an open abuse of power against any political opponent—much less a former U.S. president—could not have been dared with such impunity. Now the deed is done and the Bureau’s protectors are feigning outrage at the public outcry.

If the raid was intended to harm Trump’s chances, it doesn’t seem to have worked. At least not yet. Republicans and independents are now more motivated than ever to vote in the midterm elections, according to a poll conducted by The Trafalgar Group. As one would expect, the great majority of Republican voters believe the raid was politically engineered by Trump’s enemies. But it’s not just Republicans who believe that. Of independent voters, 54 percent believe the same, and 72 percent report being more strongly motivated now to vote, whereas only 55 percent of Democrats report an increased likelihood of voting because of the raid.

So much for the smear attempt. But what if Trump is actually charged and arrested, say under the Espionage Act? Putting him behind bars is certainly one method of preventing the strong populist candidate from dominating whatever bland, woke, virtue-signaling automaton the left decides to offer the American public in the next presidential election.

But such a move carries its own risks, too. It could backfire, like the raid itself, and cause even more people in the middle and on the right to snap out of the illusion that they are living in an honorable democracy. Some Trump loyalists might even go berserk and start a civil war, and it’s hard to imagine such a conflict going particularly well for the left. They don’t like guns, and they could hardly call upon the police they despise to defend them. Perhaps they think they can count on the military in such an event? But that is a risk too far. No one can see clearly the end of such a gamble.

Two things are certain. The left is playing with fire. And the country lies dry as chaff on the threshing floor. The fire that follows might be all-consuming, as indifferent to thugs as it is to citizens.

—Michael Larson

Image: Marine One lifts-off after returning President Donald J. Trump to Mar-a-Lago Friday, Mar. 29, 2019. The former president’s residence was raided by the FBI on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022. (Joyce N. Boghosian / via flickr, Public domain)

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