When the Lincoln Project proclaimed itself as a spoiler group to pro-Trump Republican factions across the country, few Americans took their goals seriously. President Trump had dealt with so-called Never Trump Republicans throughout the 2016 election cycle, eventually winning a number of them over to his side with his advocacy for traditional conservative positions on fiscal policy and social issues. Despite winning over the hearts and minds of some who had opposed his nomination in 2016, Republicans like George Conway, Steve Schmidt, John Weaver, Rick Wilson, Jennifer Horn, and Mike Madrid remained vehemently opposed to Trump leading into the 2020 presidential election.
Though these foundational members of the Lincoln Project claimed to object to Trump’s viability over his perceived character flaws, unpresidential behavior, and ongoing harm to the reputation of Republicans across the country, the Lincoln Project chose not to support any alternative Republican candidates for president. Instead, the group endorsed Joe Biden, a lifelong Democrat who advocated for no conservative public policy objectives whatsoever. The group’s minuscule credibility with anti-Trump Republicans was dissolved when even the moderates accused it of being full of opportunists and political has-beens disgruntled with the fallout of neoconservatism in the Republican Party.
Initially, the Lincoln Project stated that its goal was to help defeat Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Despite this original goal, the Lincoln Project has moved on to a new plan – total decimation of the Republican Party. The Lincoln Project has spent over $81 million on pro-Democrat ads in swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina, Michigan, Arizona, and Montana. These ads targeted even Republican Senate and gubernatorial candidates with few ties to Trump such as Susan Collins, Martha McSally, and Cory Gardner.
The Lincoln Project’s reputation with Democrats was immensely harmed when a report from The Daily Beast discovered that the group’s ads failed to significantly convince any voter groups in battleground states to switch sides. Progressives began to call the project a “grift” for exorbitant fundraising amounts of money in its pursuit of social media fame rather than political impact. In the same way that media organizations continue to highlight Trump on their broadcasts almost a year after his departure from office, the Lincoln Project continues to namedrop Trump to keep its donor pipeline running. Even a sexual misconduct scandal involving John Weaver, a cofounder, ultimately failed to destroy the organization’s credibility. Weaver had admitted to supporting numerous young men’s careers in exchange for sex and even sent inappropriate messages to a minor. In disgrace, several other founding members announced their resignation from the group after admitting that they were wrong to defend Weaver despite the overwhelming evidence presented against him.
Notably, the goals of the Lincoln Project remain both obvious and unclear at the same time. With Trump out of office, the group’s enemy was gone. Perhaps the hefty donations welcomed by the organization were too much to turn down, and the organization, like the mainstream media, continues to cling onto Trump for political relevancy. Just this week in the Virginia gubernatorial race, the Lincoln Project owned up to having members pose as white supremacists at a Glenn Youngkin campaign event to falsely link white supremacists with the Youngkin campaign leading up to the election. It has become clear that the Lincoln Project isn’t going anywhere anytime soon so long as they cling to Donald Trump for political relevancy.
~ Read more from Jose Backer.