The Lincoln Project has been a controversial effort from the outset. The group of former Republican political consultants has produced several ads that are well-done and effective (if their aim is to win over the voters who already despise Trump or provoke Trump to act out in response to an ad). They are pledging to mete out punishment to President Trump and his enablers. To do this, they are backing Joe Biden for President and pushing several Democrats for the U.S. Senate.
I’ve been an outspoken critic of President Trump, but I strongly disagree. I won’t vote for Joe Biden or a Democratic (or a Republican) congressional candidate. I understand the arguments for their position. A good conservative case can be made that, given the history of presidential second terms, a Trump second term is not desirable. It will likely be worse than first, lead to massive Democratic gains in the House, Senate, and governorships in 2022, and ultimately a Democratic Victory in 2024. With a strong majority to impose an extremely left-wing vision, it’d be far better to elect Biden and watch him disappoint everyone as the Democrats tear each other apart for the next four years.
There are arguments to be made that voters should punish every Republican senator who turned President Trump’s impeachment into the first impeachment trial without witnesses abdicated their responsibility. Those arguments should include punishing House Democrats for impeaching President Trump without thoroughly investigating him to make their politically motivated Christmas deadline.
However, the Lincoln Project is going beyond that. Their co-founder John Weaver told the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent that the group was “preparing to vehemently oppose efforts by GOP senators to obstruct and stymie Biden’s agenda, should he win the presidency.”
I can understand supporting Biden to be rid of Trump. However, giving Biden a blank check to pass any agenda he wants is ludicrous and indefensible. Also, Weaver’s statement is nonsense. Trump has been lightweight in passing significant legislation, with only a tax bill and a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill. Most of Trump’s “damage” can be undone with a stroke of the pen by a President Biden.
Further, Biden running on platitudes and a strong anti-Trump message doesn’t give him a “mandate” to do anything. Also, it’s wrong to demand the cooperation of members of Congress. They have as much of a “mandate” to push their ideas as Biden does to push his.
The Lincoln Project’s problems go deeper.
For a group named after Lincoln, they understand very little of the great man, lacking in his kindness, wisdom, maturity, and acumen. After four bloody years of the Civil War, Lincoln urged the nation to show “charity towards all and malice towards none.”
Lincoln Project leaders on Twitter admit they hold grudges against politicians, and those grudges will last for the rest of their lives. They will never allow anyone who went against them to live it down.
Many have called Lincoln Project members “grifters,” but that’s an unjust charge and doesn’t help the discussion. Taking an anti-Trump stance as a professional Republican or conservative is costly. What money comes through for making these ads will pale in comparison to what they’ve given up. They’re not dishonest, they’ve just come up with a horrible solution.
They had four years to think about how they were going to challenge Trump. After an over-reliance on Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation to find a smoking gun that would lead to Trump’s impeachment, this is what they came up with, despite numerous connections to wealthy and influential people who could provide the capital to do better.
The members of the Lincoln Project only know how to offer up anti-Trumpism, even if their efforts will lead to the election of people who will exacerbate the problems that created Trump. What we need is for a thorough, thoughtful response to Trumpism that seeks to address the legitimate issues that Trump supporters had, deal with the challenges our nation faces that our political leaders avoid, and figure out how to build a better political party with a new coalition that doesn’t rely on angry white baby boomers. In other words, what we need is a conservative counter-revolution.
The Lincoln Project isn’t up to this task.
Part of the problem is that most of them are tied to George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney. While the Trump years gave many of us a fresh appreciation for these men’s positive points, many of their mistakes set the stage for Trump, and it seems the Lincoln Project members lack the introspection to take a hard look at what led to Trump. They also lack the creativity to be part of a productive solution. More often, they seem to lean into the idea anyone who voted for Trump is an immoral barbarian who needs to be taught a lesson.
That’s not conservatism, and it’s not the spirit of the great man whose name the Lincoln Project appropriates. Many Americans are looking for a positive, productive way forward for our country. They’re not going to find it in the vindictive, unimaginative approach of the Lincoln Project.