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We Owe the Lincoln Project Our Thanks

They've done conservatives a great service by laying bare the grift and hypocrisy at the heart of the Republican establishment.

Joseph R. Biden is the 46th president of the United States of America, and the Lincoln Project, a ragtag gang of overweight former Republican consultants, is gorging on its own smug self-satisfaction.

How responsible they are for Biden’s narrow victory remains an open question. The targets of the Lincoln Project’s efforts in the November senatorial elections—from Mitch McConnell to Susan Collins—won re-election comfortably. They did successfully participate in ousting Georgia Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, but that had more to do with expanded turnout in poor and minority communities than with the suburban voters whom the Lincoln Project targets. Those suburbanites sharply swung back to Republicans in the runoffs, fearing the consequences to their pocketbooks of unified Democratic control of Washington.

But results have never been the metric by which Republican consultants are judged, and they’re certainly not a standard to which this particular gang of wretches has ever been held accountable. The grift will likely continue in the form of extravagant PAC spending cycle over cycle as well as dedicated media products for other former Republicans primarily concentrated in elite urban areas and the American security state’s haven of Northern Virginia.

The Lincoln Project—from its name to its founders’ public witness—cloaks itself in the shroud of a fundamental, unblemished morality. Armed with their self-professed virtue in eschewing Trumpism, they have appointed themselves judge, jury, and executioner of those they deem to be committing violence against their own conception of the American way of life.

Fair enough. Every political movement worth a damn sees itself as the arbiter of the good. But it’s then worth examining our supposed moral betters’ own witness, both personal and professional, to judge their worthiness.

In short, they don’t measure up.

The Lincoln Project is a murderers’ row of sex pests, tax cheats, serial grifters, foreign catspaws and political disasters—essentially everything they accuse the 45th president and the Republican Party of being. 

All of its founders have gained fabulous wealth from their opposition to Trump. Book deals, media contracts, and other sinecures are easy marks for the Never Trump “conservative,” not to mention the eye-popping $86 million the Lincoln Project itself has raised, much of which has gone straight to firms owned by its founders. This vast plunder was especially convenient given that Lincoln Project leaders have been plagued by financial issues for years, including the nearly half a million in unpaid taxes owed by Rick Wilson.

One of their co-founders, John Weaver, after running the disastrous John Kasich presidential campaign, became a literal Russian lobbyist in an era when we are supposed to be balking in horror at the sight of onion domes. A married man and a father, he was also recently outed for exchanging sexual favors for employment opportunities with young men he found on Twitter.

Stuart Stevens wrote a book called It Was All A Lie after running multiple failed presidential campaigns for Mitt Romney. His own coworkers on the 2012 Romney campaign, including the aforementioned John Weaver, criticized his relentless narcissism that directed attention away from the candidate himself—not that Romney would have benefitted from extra attention, as Stevens regularly bungled the campaign’s fundamental messaging.

Rick Wilson is a serial vulgarian who wrote the book Everything Trump Touches Dies, an especially hilarious title in light of the Lincoln Project failures in the 2020 Senate races. His claim to fame of late was yukking it up with CNN anchors about the “credulous Boomer rubes” in middle America—a sharp contrast with the ethic of that Confederate flag on his cooler that was featured on his and his wife’s Instagram accounts until he received public backlash. (His cooler also bore the claim that “THE SOUTH WILL RISE AGAIN,” though the Florida native later wrote on Twitter, “Soon, the only place you’ll see the traitor’s flag of the loser Confederacy flown is at @realDonaldTrump rallies.”) Wilson in particular has taken on the aura of an ayatollah, a grand religious leader pronouncing people and institutions haram for their failures to appropriately repudiate Trumpism. This included a hilariously botched attempt to cancel Domino’s Pizza for a post thanking outgoing Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnanany for her positive assessment of their pizza.

The Project as a whole now seems intent on flexing their censorious muscles against congressmen and senators who objected to the certification of the electors on January 6. They’ve especially targeted rising star Senator Josh Hawley as a unique threat to democracy. Broadsiding politicians is par for the Lincoln Project’s course, but their public attacks on companies that have dared to contribute to politicians who objected to certification (nearly half of the Republican conference) crosses a new line. Even venues that host the Project’s unfavored politicians are not beyond reproach, as they successfully cowed a hotel in Florida into canceling a planned fundraiser for Hawley.

They may well get small victories like this in the coming weeks and months, but the ultimate result of the Lincoln Project, the people behind it, and the sentiments that underlie its mindset is less likely to be a repudiation of “Trumpism” than a full-throated embrace of it by American conservatives.

There is no brighter burning fuel for the coming political realignment than over-bloated mega-corporations declaring their financial opposition to elected officials like Josh Hawley, who has regularly advocated for a turn away from the corporate solicitude that defined the pre-Trump Republican Party.

Everything the Lincoln Project represents, from consecutive electoral failures to foreign adventurism that spilt untold blood and treasure abroad to an unrepentant cronyism that left middle America behind, is exactly what the GOP and the conservative movement must shed if they hope to address our civilizational crises head on. So it is for the best that their ire has not ended with Trump’s departure. Polarizing Republican elites and the electorate against the rotting consensus they represent is a necessity in the realignment to come.

Saurabh Sharma is an entrepreneur building networks to restore the American Right. You can follow him on Twitter at @ssharmaUS.