Because I just can’t discuss our constant COVID-19 policy failures all the time.
By now, you might have stumbled across a political ad by the Lincoln Project, a group of former Republican operatives and advisors who have committed themselves to defeating Trump (‘NeverTrumpers’). One reason is the Lincoln Project has gained notice is because they have put together some high-quality ads, a few of which clearly are living rent-free in his head:
That drove him around the bend.
Other ads make arguments that might appeal to some conservatives:
And the production quality is very good:
The Frank Miller-esque comic fonts are a subtle touch (again, they’re not trying to appeal to lefties). But the Lincoln Project should force Democrats to ask some difficult questions.
First, why are professional Democrats so bad at political advertising? While we shouldn’t overestimate the role ads play–and keep in mind, the Lincoln Project operatives have a vested interest in said overestimation (we’ll return to this)–if you’re going to pay people to make ads, why do Democratic operatives, on the whole, suck at making ads? And, for that matter, at everything else? (it doesn’t take much skill to win a gerrymandered district). It’s time, perhaps too late though, to stop supporting lovable Democratic losers.
Second, what do the Lincoln Project operatives expect in return? Some will expect policy concessions and will pretend that their pre-2016 careers never happened (e.g., Rick Wilson sliming Democrat Max Cleland as an Al-Queda loving traitor). My guess is they could really screw up foreign policy, if allowed. On the other hand, some, based on Greg Sargent’s reporting, seem truly repentant (boldface mine):
Should progressives and liberals view the Lincoln Project Republicans as full-fledged converts, or as temporary allies of convenience, or as an ideological Trojan horse virus that will co-opt the Democratic Party from within if allowed to ride anti-Trump sentiment into the party’s good graces?
…Pressed on this, Weaver insisted the break is genuine. He told me the Lincoln Project is committed to ensuring that the “drive-by Jim Crowism in many parts of the country is put to an end.”
…But will the Lincoln Project remain committed to concrete expansions of voting rights after Trump is gone? Weaver said yes, noting it will keep advocating for automatic voter registration and a restored Voting Rights Act, and continue fighting efforts to “make it difficult for black people or poor people to vote.”
…But this raises another question — whether the Lincoln Project accepts the GOP’s own role in laying the groundwork for the moment. That includes the “Southern Strategy,” toleration of the Confederate flag, and a less blatant anti-immigrant sentiment that Trump made more explicit.
Pressed on this, Weaver made an interesting concession. He allowed that he helped elect Jeff Sessions to the Senate in the 1990s. Given Sessions’s racially charged history and his longtime role in building a U.S. nativist movement, Weaver allowed this had contributed in its own small way to pushing the GOP toward a Trump takeover.
“I have my own atonement to do every day about that,” Weaver told me. “Did I contribute to putting a brick in the road to where we are today? Yeah, I did.”
…Another major test of the Lincoln Project’s intentions will come if Biden wins the presidency: Will it revert to a traditional GOP donor-friendly advocacy posture, one that drives opposition to the Democratic economic agenda?
…“We’re not gonna do that,” Weaver told me when pushed on this criticism. Weaver insisted the group would actively work against Republicans who obstruct a Biden presidency, which would face a deeper crisis than in 2009, when Republicans tried to obstruct Obama in hopes of profiting off continuing economic misery.
“He will have a mandate to clean up the mess that Trump has created with the help of his enablers,” Weaver said of a Biden presidency. “That shouldn’t be held up. We intend to do all we can to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
I asked Weaver what the Lincoln Project would do if a President Biden and a Democratic Congress tried to raise taxes on the rich to help fund a multitrillion-dollar rescue effort. Weaver said he couldn’t directly address this until he saw specifics, but said: “We’ll be generally supportive of trying to get this country moving forward.”
…“Trickle-down economics has proven not to work,” Weaver said, allowing that “growing and growing” inequality is a big reason the American people are losing faith in government, which is often said to have helped Trump’s rise.
The third question, is what remains of conservatism? My guess is a hawkish foreign policy, but if they jetison conservative economic policy, then what? Is the difference between a conservative and liberal the size of the marginal income tax rate increase? If they are going to endorse much of liberal Democratic policy, a fair amount of which will incorporate TEH SOCIALISMZ! (which isn’t really socialism), then what remains? It also raises a final question: what was animating these conservatives to begin with? If it’s not a ‘conviction about small government’ or other conservative economic bromides–after all, they recognize economic inequality is a real problem, not a desired outcome for the worthy–then they’ve been pushing a lie all this time.
Anyway, like the curse goes, we live in interesting times.