It’s ironic if you think about it. We heard all the talk during the 2020 election campaign, as we did four years earlier, about those “hidden” Trump voters, the ones who were with him all the way but kept their support strictly private for fear of becoming targets.
But consider the massive Trump campaign rallies, the outpouring of fervent support in spontaneous gatherings — land, sea and air — creating “yuge” footprints across the land, and Trump’s seemingly enormous advantage in those cherished lawn signs across the full sweep of battleground America in 2020. It turns out it was apparently voters hiding their support for Joe Biden who pushed this not-Donald-Trump last-man-standing across the finish line.
Sure, we all know many people who were put off in varying degrees by Trump’s personality, commonly believed to be the culprit for his defeat. But ask yourself how many people you met, or just heard about with two or three degrees of separation, who expressed even mild enthusiasm for the candidacy of Biden. Barack Obama was seen as an agent of change by the left and a charismatic and worthy adversary by the right. Hillary Clinton was widely admired by Democrats and women and respected by her opponents for her strength and willingness to fight. This 46th president inspires few emotions other than bipartisan relief from the daily roiling melodrama that was the Trump presidency.
But it took a common determination to dump Trump among virtually every major established force in American society — political, media, corporate, and labor — together with an almost flabbergasting chain of pandemic-driven circumstances, to generate all those hidden Biden voters. Even with the COVID downdraft, which allowed Trump’s opponents to whack at him like a pinata day after day, it took a more-than-unlikely coalition of elites — joined only by their common seething hatred for Trump — to transform this into an election that would produce anything other than four more years for the 45th president.
Consider the remarkably unvarnished truth about how traditionally opposing forces began to coalesce into a working anti-Trump group during the 2020 summer of civil unrest, revealed by veteran liberal journalist Molly Ball in an exhaustive exposé in Time Magazine. Her piece is noteworthy if not seminal, “based on access to the group’s inner workings, never-before-seen documents and interviews with dozens of those involved from across the political spectrum”:
“There was a conspiracy unfolding behind the scenes, one that both curtailed the protests and coordinated the resistance from CEOs. Both surprises were the result of an informal alliance between left-wing activists and business titans. The pact was formalized in a terse, little-noticed joint statement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO published on Election Day. Both sides would come to see it as a sort of implicit bargain – inspired by the summer’s massive, sometimes destructive racial-justice protests – in which the forces of labor came together with the forces of capital to keep the peace and oppose Trump’s assault on democracy.”
This gives new meaning to the old expression about politics making strange bedfellows. Though its candidate was the obvious beneficiary, this ad hoc coalition was developed independent of the Biden campaign. It was cobbled together for one purpose only: to defeat Trump by any means that availed themselves. And so, mass distribution of unsolicited mail-in ballots and liberalization of voting laws were presented to the public as necessary to prevent their perceived certainty that Trump would try to suppress the vote. Yes, it was all an effort to “protect democratic institutions,” the obvious implication being that Trump would not do so.
Together, the coalition convinced states to adopt greatly expanded mail-in voting, push back deadlines, and loosen requirements for establishing the integrity of ballots. It hectored big-box media and big social media into taking an even harder line against “disinformation.” It spent untold millions instructing the public on the dangers of voting the old-fashioned way and the simple joys of voting by mail. And it made sure to send out the word that Trump’s likely big lead on election night would surely be drowned out by the inevitable flood of mail-ins it spent months attempting to induce.
Sure enough, just 25% of voters cast their ballots in person on Election Day, heavily weighted toward the incumbent. But an almost inconceivable 50% of the record-shattering 159 million votes cast were through the U.S. Postal Service and counted after midnight. And Trump’s lead — large enough that 86% of bettors put their money on him as the witching hour approached — vanished in the haze of darkness.
Indeed, to remove Trump from the Oval Office took what is described by notable leftist author Ball as “a well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information.”
But when you drill down into the foundation of this investigative but progressive-tinged account of a long-suspected yet still-unlikely brotherhood of Trump haters, the next sentence is the most revealing of all. Following her earlier offhand, faux-factual reference to Trump’s “assault on democracy,” Ball fully and finally unmasks the ultimate justification presented by her and her fellow travelers on the left — to themselves and the nation — for this unprecedented cabal and its exhaustive efforts to end the Trump era: “They were not rigging the election; they were fortifying it.”
Read more from Tim Donner.