By Julius Apostata
In today’s political atmosphere, it would be fair to describe the current leading parties as… less than preferable. It is clear that the Democratic and Republican parties have become increasingly radicalized. While I’m sure that many of you are aware of this moral degradation happening on the left side of the political spectrum, it would be remiss of me to not mention the corrosive elements of the modern GOP. With Trump’s entry into the Republican Party and successful rebrand of it to fit his more populist agenda, many in the GOP began to find themselves susceptible to wild conspiracy theories, unfettered nationalism, and even apologetics for the worst aspects of far-right ideology. In my view, those that represent the embodiment of these ideas, such as Representative Majorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ), and Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), have facilitated a downward spiral of the GOP’s platform and opened the floodgates for that platform to consist solely of Trumpism. Given such circumstances, it might be helpful (welcome, even), that some group present an alternative to voters disillusioned with the direction of the Republican Party and try to present a front against Trumpism. In this case, The Lincoln Project advertised itself as the reasonable alternative to whatever insanity is at work in the GOP, leading many, including myself, to admire its efforts in combating Trumpism. Unfortunately, whatever admiration I had of the Lincoln Project is now gone. Just before the election of Glenn Youngkin to the governorship of Virginia, the Lincoln Project staged a disgusting stunt that briefly fooled many.
For context, the stunt came shortly before the Virginian gubernatorial election. In the gubernatorial election, Glenn Youngkin was running on the Republican Party ticket against incumbent Governor McAuliffe, with much of the media’s focus being centered upon Youngkin’s opposition to Critical Race Theory in schools, vaccine mandates, and a fiscally conservative economic plan for Virginia. Of course, it is also worth mentioning that Youngkin is a political outsider, having never run a campaign for office before. For the sake of this article, however, we should ask ourselves one question: is Youngkin a Trumpist politician? It’s a difficult question. While Youngkin has declared the election of Joe Biden to be legitimate, he has emphasized the need for election integrity through having a valid ID. Another Paul Gosar or Majorie Taylor Greene? Hardly! But someone who plays a “Goldilocks” strategy in courting both Trump and Biden voters on local issues, as some commentators have pointed out? Certainly. Still, this didn’t stop some, such as Governor McAuliffe, from labeling Youngkin a “wannabe Trump.”
On October 29th, 2021, five people, dressed up in what can best be described as the attire of white supremacists that marched in Charlottesville, carried tiki torches and stood in front of his bus, stating “We’re all in for Glenn!” Obviously, the sight of something so reminiscent of an ugly day in American history rightfully deserves condemnation, especially if such a demonstration is genuine. Prominent figures on McAuliffe’s campaign, such as spokeswoman Christina Freundlich and social media manager Charlie Olaf, immediately rushed to state that such a stunt was a real indication of Youngkin’s support group and his beliefs. Of course, they were wrong when they said the act was real. Only hours after the stunt took place, the Lincoln Project would release a statement saying that this was their demonstration, with the goal of “…reminding Virginians what happened in Charlottesville four years ago, the Republican Party’s embrace of those values, and Glenn Youngkin’s failure to condemn it.” Needless to say, the act of impersonating vile white supremacists as a political stunt caused the Lincoln Project to face immediate backlash, with many outlets and individuals, including many of those that rushed to link the demonstration to Youngkin, condemning it. Of course, the planning behind the event is even more interesting: enter Lauren Windsor, a Democrat operative who can best be described as the left’s answer to James O’Keefe. According to her and emails obtained by The Intercept, the demonstration was never meant to be a “hoax.” Of course, some of the lovely chants that she directed her group to say include “Hail Trump!” and what to do in the case of aggressive confrontation, according to her email, and her own twitter later amplified the stunt as though it were real, but surely, this wasn’t meant to be perceived as real.
All of this is to say that much of the Lincoln Project’s credibility has been seriously harmed with the events that have unfolded. Many, including myself, are sympathetic to the organization’s overarching message that there is a moral rot within the Republican party due to former president Trump and that it is necessary to rescue the party from the abandonment of its principles. However, whatever the plan was for this stunt, it backfired in spectacular fashion: not only was their charade exposed to the world, but Youngkin would end up winning the race for governor. Not only was this a cheap stunt meant to smear Youngkin, but by trivializing such a matter, the Lincoln Project takes away from very real instances of these events. What is certain is that in the process of attempting this political smear, the Lincoln Project did a disservice to their own name.