I wanted to highlight an interview that happened at the end of last month to show you just how Rick Wilson and Lincoln Project have actually sold dems down the river.
Not sure if I agree with him on dems losing. I think Republicans are overhyping the win win win flood the zone with win narratives. So much so, that Rick is actually scared that dems are finished, in reality though, his Republican spots are shining through in this interview, and he’s effectively sold dems out and down the river without a raft by claiming early that they’ve lost and here’s why they lost.
He sees a wave of Republican wins all across the board because Republicans know how to message and dems don’t, and never will. I tend to agree that dems don’t know how to message, and often lose sight of messaging with their moral high ground thinking. But in this case, I think dems are more motivated this time around than 2020, where they rebuffed Trump all the way and threw him out of office. Rick however shows his true Republican spots by dumping dems overboard in October, claiming they’ve already lost, and then spending an entire interview bitching about how terrible dems are and why they lost.
Rick thinks that Republicans have now learned from their 2020 losses, and now more than ever are poised to win the House and probably even the Senate in 2022, and in 2024, the Presidency. So, he goes on to say the reasons that dems will lose is because they didn’t know squat about messaging, and didn’t work like Republicans did with their win at all costs strategies.
He goes on to say that all dems do is work on policy papers and trying to fix what’s wrong with America, while Republicans are out taking over local races and working up from there, state by state, cheating if need be, and selling their souls to the devil if required, all in the nature of winning power at any cost. They don’t care about their constituents, all they care about is themselves. According to Rick, dems are asleep at the wheel when it comes to knowing what Republicans are up to, and how to combat it. As if dems should give up policy papers and throw the people under the bus so they too can win at all costs without so much as a policy on how to govern once they’ve won.
So, this interview he gives is basically him throwing in the towel early and saying oh well too bad so sad for the loser dems. Lest we forget, Rick Wilson is a Republican. He’s not a Trumpist, but he’s still a Republican, and the Lincoln Project, which helped to bring down Trump because they hated him, was still fully vested with Republicans. So, they will always bleed Republican blood no matter who is running. Add to this, Lincoln Project hasn’t really been fully invested in this midterms. Matter of fact, they’ve been pretty much absent the entire season, and only putting out a few ads/videos that any 14 year old YouTube’r could have done himself.
The Lincoln Project made their money in the last election in 2020. Most of the founders, Rick included, walked off with over 30 million dollars for just YouTube videos and Twitter rants. So, they don’t actually give two fucks if dems lose, they made their money, and enough money to last a lifetime and then some. They don’t need any more money or work. So while they claim they will be out fighting for democracy for the rest of their lives, it’ll only be a lukewarm tepid fight, because they really don’t need to engage anymore.
So, Rick, Lincoln Project, yeah, they are sell outs. Yep, I know, many thought that they had the dems back. But in the long run they really didn’t. Republicans are born this way, they can’t change who they are and they never will. They will sell you and your mother out for the almighty dollar and the WIN. And that defines Rick Wilson and The Lincoln Project. They are Republicans through and through, and also money grubbing greedy assholes who’ll sell out when the going gets tough. Fuck em..
Republicans will “lie, cheat and steal” to win, says GOP renegade — Democrats will learn that lesson the hard way
Next month’s midterm elections may be the most important in American history. The outcome will determine whether America takes another decisive step toward fascism.
These midterms are unprecedented, in the worst ways possible.
They are the first national elections since Donald Trump and his followers attempted a coup on Jan. 6, 2021, with the goal of ending American democracy and installing Trump in power as a king or American Caesar.
The Republican fascists and the larger right are escalating their plans across the country to subvert or nullify the results of the midterms and then the 2024 presidential election to ensure that they always win, regardless of how the American people vote. This strategy includes the very real potential for violence: The Department of Justice and other law enforcement agencies have issued public warnings about the threat of violence during the midterms by right-wing paramilitaries and other malign actors.
As part of the Big Lie chaos strategy, Trump and his agents are already coordinating their plans to dispute the results of the upcoming midterm election as somehow “fraudulent” or “stolen” — a preview of their plans for 2024 — if Republican candidates do not win in such key states as Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona.
Elections are only “fair,” in their view, if Republicans “win”: This is the standard logic deployed by authoritarians, fascists and other such forces that want to destroy democracy from within.
America’s political class and the mainstream media have largely failed to adapt. Instead of embracing pro-democracy journalism and bold truth-telling, the media has largely defaulted to fake balance, “both-sides-ism” and access journalism, constantly providing Republican fascists and their spokespeople a platform to further undermine the country’s democracy and civic culture with lies and disinformation.
In total, American politics is now in a state of confusion and uncertainty, lost in a fever dream, where supposedly fixed points of certainty and political norms and rules no longer apply.
In an attempt to make sense of this confusing and unprecedented moment, I recently spoke with Rick Wilson.
Wilson has had a highly influential and successful career as a political strategist and commentator, mostly as a Republican. Since 2015, he has been a prominent figure in the Never Trump movement and was co-founder of the Lincoln Project. He is editor at large for The Daily Beast and his work has also been published in the Washington Post, USA Today, Politico, The Hill and elsewhere. He is a frequent guest on MSNBC and CNN as well on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher.”
In this conversation, Wilson explains his view that public opinion polls, focus groups and the other tools commonly used to understand American politics and elections no longer have the explanatory and predictive power they did before the Age of Trump. He warns that the Republicans and the conservative movement have spent decades creating the institutions necessary to win and keep power — and then to impose their will on the American people. Liberals and moderates, Wilson argues, chose to convince themselves that the threat was exaggerated.
Democrats and many among the news media, Wilson argues, have deluded themselves into believing that arguments built on policy and material self-interest — or on accusing the Republicans of being hypocrites or liars — will break the GOP’s hold on white working-class and lower middle-class voters.
Much about the upcoming midterms remains in doubt, Wilson says, although he believes Republicans will win back control of the House, while control of the Senate is uncertain. Democracy will continue to deteriorate, he suggests, unless Democrats can begin to fight for control of key local and state offices they have largely abandoned in recent years. If Donald Trump runs for president again in 2024, Wilson believes he is likely to win.
How do you feel in this moment? How are you making sense of all this?
My sense of the world right now is that we are at an inflection point, one where no one knows what is really going to happen with certainty. I’m a believer in data and modeling. But I’m not a believer anymore in polling and focus groups. It is my belief that they have lost all their utility. Too many political action committees and political strategists think that they can come up with a message, grind it down, polish it up, and that will be how they win in a year like 2022. That is complete madness and a path to complete failure. Six months ago, the math told me that we were going to end up with a Republican House, a Republican Senate and a Republican sweep in every single aspect. I don’t believe that anymore. The ground has changed radically.
The House is still going to go Republican because of structural reasons related to redistricting. The Senate race is much different now. The poor quality of the Republican candidates is going to probably save Pennsylvania and Arizona. There are also some surprisingly strong Republican candidates elsewhere. There’s a lot of noise in the system and less signal than I’d like, which means that nobody is going to be able to credibly state what is going to happen yet with the midterms. This is an unsettled electorate, with turnout that is going to be higher than any midterm we’ve ever seen. Never mind the complexities of early voting and whether it will end up benefiting the Democrats or the Republicans.
The news media, pundits, consultants and political class have largely not adapted to the new realities of the Age of Trump and this assault on democracy. They have had more than six years to learn new ways of thinking, develop new tools, and analyze the country’s political and social reality as it exists, instead of as they wish it to be. They have largely refused to. It’s a grand failure of supposed “expertise.”
For example, we don’t even know how to model if the Republican Party’s anti-early voting rhetoric changes how Republicans vote. That rhetoric didn’t become a significant factor until 2020. We don’t have a test case for it. Republicans may now think that early voting is bad and don’t show up to vote early. Here is another complication: We know that voters constantly lie in focus groups and to pollsters. The idea that Republicans will tell a pollster or a focus-group moderator the truth is just laughable. It’s become a type of cultural scam on the right to prank pollsters and focus groups. The people who work in the political world do not want to accept this; they just don’t get it.
Another old habit and strategy that doesn’t work anymore is TV ads. That approach used to drive the political consultant strategist business. Not too long ago, if we could just raise enough money to get our candidate on the air for the last two weeks before election day we knew that was going to change the ballgame and win the election for us. That approach doesn’t work anymore. To do that would be like putting money on a bonfire. Nobody watches broadcast television. It’s a way for a lot of people in D.C. to make a lot of money on commissions. It is not how voters are getting their information anymore. They are now getting their information on social media and podcasts and streaming and, God forbid, TikTok and Facebook and other horrible ways.
I was one of the first people with a platform to predict that Donald Trump was going to win in 2016. People thought that I was crazy. How did I see this so clearly? I am a working-class Black man. I am not of the political class or the news media. I do not enjoy their privileges of money, skin color, wealth or class background. As such, I am not invested in their many myths about America. My analysis is not clouded by it. How do we break through that bubble, which is increasingly detached from reality, that the country’s news media and political class inhabit?
One of my superpowers is that I moved out of Washington in 1994 and I never went back. I go there for work occasionally, but I never wanted to go live there again. The culture of D.C. has a certain insular nature, where even with Trump and what he was doing with breaking norms and rules, they could not accept this new reality. I remember being in a fancy home with very wealthy hosts. Sitting around this table was every big-name “Never Trump” person. This was in early 2018, and they were talking about how we’re going to get the party back and change everything. Why did they think they would ever get let back in the room? This is not the world as it exists. I am not of that elite world and, like you, that gives me an insight such people don’t possess.
A very well-meaning Democratic donor asked me why Trump and the Republicans are getting the votes of Black men and Hispanic men. I told them, imagine there are three guys working on a road crew. A Black guy, a white guy and a Hispanic guy. They are a lot more alike than you can imagine. A rich person drives by in a Range Rover and is honking at them and speeding. They all hate that person. They all feel like if they say something wrong at work, they’re going to get fired. They all feel that “Woke culture” is not received as, “We are trying to address past harms in our society.” Sometimes it is received as, “You are a stupid redneck from the middle of the country, and we hate you.” Many people on the right have been able to exploit that politically. Trump was brilliant at it. I always say, you give me 20 more Conor Lambs, and I’ll give you 50 more seats in Congress. Or you can give me 50 more AOCs, and I’ll give you one more seat in Congress.
I will give you an example of failed messaging: “Defund the police.” That is one of the worst slogans and talking points I have every heard. It was an easy win for the Republicans and other “conservatives.” The public should not have to go read a book to understand what a politician means. That’s not how you win elections. Why did that slogan gain traction among some Democrats?
It took off because it stroked a certain aspect of the progressive Democratic Party’s amygdala where they liked that feeling of a catchy phrase that expresses what we feel. But Republicans loved it because they immediately thought, “I’m going to weaponize that shit.” Back in 2020 during a call we were on together, James Clyburn said — to paraphrase him — that the slogan is just dumb. Black folks are going to be hurt the most if you defund the police. What is wrong with these people? The Democrats lack message discipline. They were not able to effectively tell their people: “Please stop saying this. It’s hurting us. It’s hurting everybody.”
The Democratic Party is divided into two parties. There’s a sort of Obama/Clinton, practical politics wing that could win seats, and sometimes win big statewide, and there are the safe seats. Messages like “Defund the police” just don’t scale up. The message on the Republican side doesn’t scale either. But they’re better at the tools of politics than the Democrats are, as a broad rule.
Why are the Republicans, as you say, on average so much better at storytelling and the emotional work of politics than the Democrats?
My first campaign was in 1987, a U.S. Senate campaign. I joined the Bush campaign as a young guy fresh out of school. Generations of young Republican activists, consultants and journeymen were taught one rule. It was beaten into us by the likes of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove. The rule is: Just win, get to the goal line. The Republicans have gotten really good at finding whatever tactic, no matter how ugly it was and is, to get to the goal line. And over the years, the difference in the two party’s political cultures got ever wider. Republicans just wanted to win, no matter how they got there, and increasingly over that time Democrats wanted to talk about policy. The Democrats really believed that policy would save us and that they could find a secret ingredient that brings back white working-class voters to the party. That has not happened.
Republicans will do anything to win. They will lie, cheat and steal to win; they don’t care how they get there. That’s a hard lesson for a lot of Democratic consultants and candidates to accept.
Policy is increasingly a tool for Republicans to exploit against Democrats to scare those same white working-class voters that they wanted to get back. As the Democratic Party became more of a white upper-class educated elite party, it became more difficult for them to understand why their policies were not resonating.
A perfect example is climate change. To be clear, climate change is a real thing. But you know what? Telling the guy in West Virginia that he’s going to lose his job because you’re going to eliminate coal, and that he is going to be retrained to be a solar-panel installer, is nonsense. He responds with, “I’m going to vote for those other people, the Republicans. I don’t like him, but I’m going to vote for him. I don’t want to lose my job.”
Democrats consistently believe that the types of elite-driven public policy that makes great sense and sounds wonderful and makes them feel good in the drawing rooms of Cambridge, Massachusetts, is what convinces voters in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri. The Democrats don’t seem to understand the cultural divide and how their language is not helping them. Again, the Republicans will do anything to win. They will lie, cheat and steal to win; they don’t care how they get there. That’s a hard lesson for a lot of Democratic consultants and candidates to accept. I was never a delicate person, but what the Republicans are doing now even shocks me.
Another example is how so many Democrats, liberals and progressives actually believe that calling Republicans hypocrites or liars or bad people is effective messaging and political work. Media types and commentators may get attention and validation from their audience by making such arguments, but it’s not effective in terms of confronting power.
It won’t work. We’re in a post-shame world, a post-hypocrisy environment. You can’t shame Republicans anymore. You have to show people that you’re better for them. That takes a lot of work. The Democrats complain, and they are correct, that the Republicans are very good at redistricting and setting the rules in ways that disadvantage the Democrats. The Democrats should respond not by complaining but by electing more people at lower levels in the states, so that you can do redistricting in a way that doesn’t hurt the Democrats every single time. The Democrats are about to pay a terrible price by ignoring the bottom-up approach to politics.
Can you explain how the Republicans and the larger right wing built a machine over decades that is now imperiling American democracy? Too much of the commentary and pseudo-analysis treats Trumpism and neofascism as something novel and impossible to predict. In reality, this was all long in process and being done in public.
When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, my Democratic friends were telling me things like, “Oh my God, this is such a shock!” How the hell are you shocked? The Republicans have explicitly told you for almost 50 years what they’re going to do. They told you they were going to use the courts to end abortion rights.
The Republicans told you what they were doing every step of the way. The Democrats ignored it or pretended that it didn’t exist or engaged in magical thinking or couldn’t grapple with the concept of it actually happening. Guess what? It actually happened. Roe v. Wade was overturned. The Democrats have to understand that this is no longer “my honorable friend across the aisle.”
They’re not arguing with the Republicans about whether or not we’re going to have a 36.5% or a 34.2% maximum tax rate. They’re arguing with people who want to destroy democracy. They want to destroy the republic, they want to reduce this country to an authoritarian baseline where fascism is the order of the day. This will be a country where the Republicans’ corporate and political allies are rewarded, their enemies are punished where power is from the executive, and from a captive court system, and from a legislative body that does whatever the Great Leader wants. Republicans want power. They want power because they know that through power alone that they will be able to control the lives of the American people. That drive is a real part of the Republican Party’s DNA now.
Republicans and other “conservatives” are direct and transparent in their plans. An obvious example would be taking away women’s reproductive rights by overturning Roe v. Wade. Another example would be the coup attempt on Jan. 6. The news media and the political class continue to act like they are surprised by this. Do they really believe it, or are they just pretending as to be “relatable” to generate views and clicks?
Republicans told you what they were doing every step of the way. The Democrats ignored it or pretended that it didn’t exist or engaged in magical thinking.
There’s a cultural subset of the Washington and New York reporting class who still think that this country and its politics during this democracy crisis and the Age of Trump are a story about process. Republicans said this and Democrats said that, and somewhere in the middle is the solution. You can’t treat the truth and the lie like the same thing. You can’t treat madness and real policy as the same thing. The madness is rising on the right. They don’t care about the truth. They are determined to use whatever tools they have to end democracy. Reporters who mistake the Republicans for anything but an authoritarian movement are playing a very stupid game.
What will America look like if the Republicans take control of the House and the Senate? Or, even worse, with Trump or someone else taking back the presidency? How do we explain this to the average American?
What it means is that America is going to look a lot more like East Germany in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s than an America we imagine as a democracy and free society. As we speak, Gov. Greg Abbott is paying men to snitch on women in Texas if they get an abortion. Now imagine that all over the country. Here’s another example. We will now have people reporting on their neighbors for having a gay child, telling the state that they are bad parents or abusive so the state can can take action against them. If it’s Trump or whomever, they will use the power of the state to try to remake America into their vision of the 1950s, a vision driven by what the hyper-Christian nationalist element of the party wants. That should scare the hell out of the American people.
One of the dominant narratives right now from the news media and the centrist political class is this disgust about how Americans care more about gas and food prices than the abstract thing called “democracy.” This reveals a basic denial about the reality of pocketbook issues and American political behavior.
Most people are politically detached until just before Election Day. That’s just a fact about American political behavior. Most people don’t pay close attention to politics more generally. The surge of pocketbook issues has the disadvantage of actually being true. This is bad for the Democrats. Gas prices do in fact drive political behavior. Gas prices have a big impact on how people evaluate the economy. The Democrats should never have waited to respond to energy prices. They should have been much more amenable to saying things like, “Yes, we do need to build more refining capacity.” I know a lot of people in the White House were afraid that they were going to anger the left wing of their party. If you are someone who has to drive to work 30 miles every day, then you’re most likely a middle-class or lower middle-class voter. Gas prices really do impact you. You don’t want to hear something about transitioning to electric cars in the future. That does not help you now.
On paper, Donald Trump should be an easy candidate to defeat. His negligent response to the coronavirus pandemic led to the deaths of at least a million Americans. He is a pathological liar and an obvious criminal. He is proudly ignorant and vulgar. He attempted a coup. The list is almost endless. Why are the Democrats not able to vanquish Trump and his movement, along with anyone operating in his name or under his banner?
If there was no COVID pandemic, there is a good chance Trump would have won in 2020. You can’t shame his supporters and you can’t shame him. It is possible to break off limited groups of people from TrumpWorld, the soft Republicans and independent leaning types. But trying to sell Trump voters on anything but Donald Trump is a fool’s errand. You’re not going to persuade them. The only thing that will persuade them is cataclysmic political losses year after year after year after year, and that’s still a long way off and a longer-term project.
What do you think happens if Donald Trump runs for president again?
He will win the Republican primary. Moreover, Trump won’t just win; he will absolutely dominate. None of the other Republicans will stand a chance against him. And then there is a three-in-five chance that Trump wins the presidency. I wish that was not true. I’m 59 years old. I would love to go rebuild old airplanes and have a hobby. This fight keeps grinding on. It’s not going to stop even when Trump dies, because he started a movement. I have to keep fighting the fascists for as long as I can do it.