They’ve spent millions to manipulate GOP primaries, are setting up websites
As Election Day approaches, Democrats are doubling down on their claim that Republicans in general and former President Donald J. Trump represent an existential threat to American democracy. Democrats hope such hyperbole will distract from our very real national problems while mobilizing Democratic voter turnout. Even better, they hope to dissuade some marginal Republicans and independents from voting on Nov. 8.
This makes sense to Democratic political warriors who know that off-year elections are less about persuasion than turnout. Besides, with an unpopular president presiding over a disastrous economy and a swiftly unraveling foreign policy, there’s nowhere else to go. Whether the strategy works or not remains to be seen but win or lose the collateral damage to U.S. institutions, the political process, and the future credibility of Democrats with the very voters they are courting is incalculable.
If Democrats believe that Mr. Trump or MAGA supporters are a threat to democracy, the cynical expenditure of as much as $53 million dollars in more than half a dozen states to help Trump loyalists win their GOP primaries must strike some of their own voters as marginally insane. History tells us that we must always be careful of what we wish for because we might get it — as happened in 1980, when President Jimmy Carter fervently hoped for the chance to run and win against a California actor he knew he could beat. Democrats spent all these millions to manipulate Republican voters into nominating candidates they consider sure losers, but some of these “dangerous” losers may ride what they’ve spent to victory in November.
Defining one’s opponent is a traditional and legitimate part of any campaign, but historically parties hold their fire until the other has selected its nominee. His or her primary opponents will do whatever “defining” is done then. This year, however, leading Democrats are spending millions to manipulate or hijack the Republican Party’s nominating process to nominate candidates they want to run against.
This strategy cannot be shrugged off as the effort of a few independent and uncontrollable liberal political action committees. It has been endorsed and largely funded by the Democratic leadership, both Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s House Majority PAC and Sen. Chuck Schumer’s Leadership PAC were “all in” on the strategy. The executive director of Mrs. Pelosi’s PAC defended the strategy to The Washington Post last month, bragging that Democrats will do “whatever it takes” to win this fall. Democratic pollster Geoff Garin added, “No one needs to apologize for doing what they think will give Democrats their best chance of winning.”
To be fair, not all Democrats agree. Former Indiana Congressman Tim Roemer takes issue with the strategy, arguing to the Post that boosting the chances of candidates they supposedly believe are dangerous is “a deeply, deeply precarious and dangerous strategy” and has written op-eds denouncing the practice, but current Democratic leaders have ignored his concerns.
At the same time they denounce the dangers of what they like to call “fake news,” Democratic leaders are working with Clinton loyalist and progressive hit man David Brock to set up their own “fake news” outlets in five targeted states. American Independent Media, which runs the news sites, is a part of American Independent incorporated this past spring in Washington by the liberal Elias Law Group and supported by progressive and Democratic PACs, funds and individuals with more than $11 million and counting. The sites are active in Arizona, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and represent what a NewsGuard investigation calls “a coordinated effort ahead of the 2022 U.S. midterms to push voters to vote Democrat in battleground states.”
NewsGuard is no right-wing operation. Founded by Steve Brill in 2018, its advisory board includes the likes of former President Barack Obama’s education secretary, Arne Duncan, and former NSA head Mike Hayden. The organization describes the product of these fake news sites as “pink slime” and notes that articles crafted by them are often picked up by Democratic campaigns as legitimate news to be used on the stump and in campaign ads.
Warnings about the dangers to democracy and “fake news” are legitimate. The problem is that they are coming from the perpetrators who are fully committed to the very tactics they spend so much time denouncing. Politicians are a cynical lot. But today’s Democrats, in trying to hoodwink an electorate they underestimate, are raising it to a new level.
• David Keene is editor-at-large at The Washington Times.