The Lincoln Project–This is How I Expected Congressional Republicans to Act

Well, not all of them–but a handful of them at least. And maybe not at the very beginning of the Trump presidency, but at least by impeachment trial. In case you don’t know, the Lincoln Project is a group of a conservatives/Republicans (most seem to be political consultants) who are helping to defeat Trump and congressional Republicans who have enabled him. Greg Sargent, a liberal WaPo columnist, interviewed John Weaver, one of it’s members. Actually, it’s more accurate to say Sargent grilled Weaver–taking the role of someone who is skeptical about their intentions. If what Weaver says is genuine and accurately reflects the group, I really feel an affinity towards this group–specifically in a commitment to the U.S. Constitution and rule of law. I’ll see more, particularly about the interview, in the comments section.

6 thoughts on “The Lincoln Project–This is How I Expected Congressional Republicans to Act

  1. On whether LP is “breaking permanently with the GOP embrace of voter suppression, gerrymandering and other anti-democratic tactics.”

    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.”

    On whether LP will “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.”

    “No more of that,” Weaver said.

    Weaver’s reason makes sense to me: “This will force it (GOP) to “actually compete for votes,” Weaver told me, adding that the GOP will be a “better party for the country if everyone participates.” If not, Weaver said, “it will die.”

    It will die or it will give up on liberal democracy–and it seems like they’ve chosen the latter.

    Weaver also later says he wants the GOP to lose big, as this will lead to an “internal reckoning.” I feel strongly about this, too. Indeed, I tend to the Republicans will have to lose big in this election and the next if a healthy conservative party is to be renewed.

    On “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.

    Weaver allowed this had contributed in its own small way to pushing the GOP toward a Trump takeover….In Weaver’s own telling, conceding complicity in creating conditions for Trump’s rise is crucial to remaking the GOP.

    I agree that admitting they helped give rise to Trumpism–and expressing contrition–is crucial to remaking the GOP, although I tend to think it’s better to dump the GOP/Republican brand and come up with a new name for the conservative party.

    On whether the LP will “revert to a traditional GOP donor-friendly advocacy posture, one that drives opposition to the Democratic economic agenda?

    His initial answer did enough to pass the smell test for me:

    “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,…

    The key word is “obstruct.” Maybe I’m too gullible (or I’m projecting the way I’d approach the situation), but it seems consistent to oppose obstruction that was primarily politically driven.

    But then Sargent asks specifically about the possibility of Biden raising taxes, and Weaver

    …couldn’t directly address this until he saw specifics, but said: “We’ll be generally supportive of trying to get this country moving forward.”

    I guess that’s believable, but on some level I wish he just stated clearly that he would oppose Biden’s policies that he didn’t agree with–but he would also oppose Republicans who used an obstructionist approach. I do not expect the LP to support progressive or even center-left policies. This would be unreasonable to me. I’d have more faith and trust in their group if they said they’re not abandoning their policy positions.

    At the same time, I’m pretty sure this would lead to a sizable group of progressives from opposing the group and maybe increasing suspicions against them. They have to be very careful how they talk about this subject, and in that light, I think Weaver did a good job.

    1. I don’t think I read this one before. Thanks for the link.

      Two Republican officials who work on House and Senate races said the Lincoln Project and similar groups are more effective at rattling the president than affecting the electoral landscape.

      There could be some truth to this. It does seem like several of the ads are primarily designed to needle Trump. I’m a little ambivalent about that, as it seems childish and of a little value. On the other hand, if it causes Trump to make mistakes that politically hurts him, there’s obvious value in that.

      Longwell said she spent most of the three years after Trump’s election trying to understand what happened and conducting focus groups with voters who supported Trump in 2016 but now rate his performance in office as “somewhat bad” or “very bad.” As her group began testing ads, they quickly realized that slick commercials were often less persuasive than raw testimonials from fellow Republicans with similar doubts about the current president.

      These testimonials resonate more with me–personally, I find them heartening. I probably disagree with these people on several key policies, but I find a strong connection with them anyway. That is a good feeling.

      But beyond that, I feel like these would be persuasive not only for just Republican voters, but for independents, particularly inattentive voters. For the former, I think it’s extremely important to hear other Republicans, especially white Republicans, to voice these things. I think it can spark a chain reaction. For the latter, I think it can undermine uncertainty about whether criticism against Trump is mostly partisan. The same applies when prominent conservatives or members of the Trump administration speak out against him.

      Weaver also said that “dispatching Trump does not dispatch Trumpism” and cited Fox News host Tucker Carlson, as well as Republican Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.) and Josh Hawley (Mo.), as other potential party leaders he hopes to sideline.

      “The next battle will be making sure those from his ilk do not get the next Republican nomination,” Weaver said. “Our task won’t be finished when Joe Biden takes the oath of office.”

      I know I said this already, but Weaver is 100% right on here, and it makes me feel more confident about this group. The key is totally defeat Trumpism and those politicians who ascribe to it. They are a threat to America, and they’re not conservative at all, at least not the principles that American conservatives have long espoused.

      By the way, here’s a sample of the needling style I talked about:

      The one thing I should add. I saw a tweet from Karen Stenner, a psychologist who done research on certain individuals who are drawn to authoritarian leaders. Here’s what she said:

      Can I just say loudly and clearly, once again, that the best chance we have of turning a MAGAt away from Trump is by showing not that he is evil (everyone knows, most don’t care, many are delighted) but that he is WEAK.

      Even better if his opponent is strong, unifying, reassuring

      I would guess laughing at Trump makes him look weak?

  2. I no longer have any idea what’s persuasive to whom. That such a polarizing figure can still have people on the fence is a mystery to me, but I admit one reason I appreciated this article was it explained why these organizations may or may not be effective in turning the fence-riders.

    At the same time, I am trying my utmost not to have any expectations at all heading into November. I was devastated by unrealized expectations four years ago and I can’t go through it again. Meanwhile, there have been a few more Lincoln Project columns in the Washington Post since the one you shared, so if you’ve missed those you might want to do a Google News search, if you’re intrigued by further commentary on this topic.

    1. That such a polarizing figure can still have people on the fence is a mystery to me,….

      If you lump in confusion about who and what to believe into being on the fence, then I can understand how someone could be in this position. (shrugs)

      At the same time, I am trying my utmost not to have any expectations at all heading into November.

      I think I understand. And on some level, I think it’s a wise approach. On the other hand, to not have any expectations–or any good sense of large numbers of people are responding to Trump and Biden–that leads to a lot of anxiety for me. But I doubt there’s anyway to really overcome this problem.

  3. Here’s a deal–or true, if you will–between the Lincoln Project and congressional Republicans that they’re targeting:

    These congressional Republicans will promise to work as hard as possible to ensure the security and integrity of the upcoming elections. At the very least, this would include publicly pushing back hard when Trump, Barr, and others question mail-in ballots, call the election “rigged,” and do anything to get foreign help.

    In return the Lincoln Project will agree to a “cease fire”–and if the congressional Republicans really do well in protecting the Republic, maybe they might even help them get re-elected.

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