Throughout the course of the 2020 presidential election cycle, attacks on President Donald Trump have started to ramp up. As COVID-19 infections continue to spike in the country, Trump’s popularity with a majority of Americans has entered a free fall. At this point, Democratic nominee Joe Biden enjoys a comfortable 10 point lead or more over Trump in most polls. This begs the question of how Biden is performing so well against Trump in the polls while staying relatively silent the past few months?
The answer is simple: this was the Biden campaign strategy the entire time. Biden’s team is keeping the former Vice President out of headlines while letting Trump flounder on the national stage. Trump is catching all of the negative press for COVID-19, civil unrest and the unpopular actions of his administration while Biden’s team watches him fail from the sidelines. Biden’s campaign has released some attack ads on Trump over the past few months, but their campaign strategy has mostly stayed passive. Most of the attacks ads levied against Trump in this election cycle have been orchestrated by political action committees that oppose the president. The most prominent and arguably effective of these anti-Trump PACs so far has been The Lincoln Project.
The Lincoln Project is an American political action committee formed in late 2019 by several prominent and former Republicans. The stated goal of the committee is to prevent the reelection of Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election and his supporters in the U.S. Senate. The Lincoln Project announced in April of 2020 their endorsement of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. This Republican-ran committee has spent millions of dollars in ads attacking Trump and supporting Biden throughout the election cycle. Trump has since publicly derided The Lincoln Project ads levied against him, calling the committee’s founders “losers” and “Republicans in name only”.
The Lincoln Project has been looked upon as a useful ally by many liberals in their fight to defeat Trump at the ballot box in November. However, there are indicators that there is something much more insidious about this Republican committee hitching themselves to Joe Biden’s wagon. The Lincoln Project looks to be a coordinated effort by right wing political operatives who no longer have a place in Trump’s Republican Party to shift the Democratic Party further rightward than it already is.
To back this theory up, let’s take a look at some of the minds behind the creation of this committee. George Conway, Steve Schmidt, John Weaver, and Rick Wilson are the four main founders of The Lincoln Project. Conway is an attorney and married to Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, Schmidt managed John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, Weaver managed McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign and Wilson is a conservative media consultant. All four are critics of Trump, noting his failure to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn.
Overall, there does not seem to be many stark ideological differences between Trump and the founders of The Lincoln Project besides their disapproval of his handling of COVID-19 and the economy. Wilson was spotted on Instagram a few years ago boating with a Confederate flag cooler, a post he has since deleted. Wilson and fellow committee member Ben Howe have also been ardent defenders of George Zimmerman and Darren Wilson on Twitter, with Howe even tweeting how he wanted to personally shoot Michael Brown. These are the kind of people Democrats have welcomed with open arms into their coalition while completely shunning the left.
The fact that right wingers like Wilson and Howe are so willing to support Biden against Trump is an indictment of how little a Biden presidency would threaten the status quo and corporate America’s interests. The founders of The Lincoln Project did not suddenly grow a conscience when opposing Trump, they just desire to turn the Democratic Party into what the Republican Party was before the Tea Party movement. The war-mongering, bigotry and corporatism under Trump will still all be there but more carefully hidden under the surface. The Democratic establishment are willingly letting this happen to their party instead of treating the committee as the Trojan Horse that it truly is.
As Jeet Heer wrote in a critique of The Lincoln Project’s political ads in The Nation, “To the extent that the ads articulate any political vision, it is a desire to return to the hard-line military aggression of the George W. Bush era.” That is far from a standard that any liberals should aspire to. There should be a much higher bar for supposed allies than simply being opposed to Trump.