The New Yorker magazine asked a typical New Yorker magazine question: "Should progressives trust" The Lincoln Project?
Founded by Republican operatives who detest Donald Trump, the Project is running a swashbuckling campaign to see the president defeated — and humiliated. Brilliant, funny, and viciously effective, they see their mission as moving people who voted for Trump in 2016, or didn't vote, to Joe Biden's column.
Democrats don't know how to win elections, the Project's principals say. Democrats lack the killer instinct. Not understanding who really votes in this country, they mistake the far left's hot Twitter feeds for public opinion. (The activists don't account for a quarter of even the Democratic Party's voter base.) Tragically, they don't understand the nature of the Trumpian beast.
"You believed you could shame Trump and Trump voters into listening to the better angels of their nature by talking about diversity, inclusion, and liberal values," co-founder Rick Wilson wrote in his book "Running Against the Devil." "In reality, you were giving the Trump campaign fodder for the weaponized grievance machine that put him in office in the first place."
What made Wilson change sides? "I grew a soul," he said.
The Lincoln Project organizers and others in the never-Trump movement say they are the real conservatives. They're appalled at Trump's populist antics and governance so crazy it threatens national security. Their strategic goal is to give lifelong Republicans a "permission structure" to cross over and vote for Democrats this time.
There's something ludicrous about progressives fretting over whether they can "trust" political hotshots working their butts off to send Trump packing. The Project's managers are also out to punish down-ballot Republicans who sacrificed their conservative principles to become Trump toadies.
Yet you have two professors, Robert Saldin and Steven Teles, complaining in their book, Never Trump, that mainstream Democrats have "rehabilitated" the "moral status" of Republicans who oppose the president. They say this in all earnestness. By contrast, the Lincoln Project pirates are having a ball, fighting Trumpism with their "Ahoy, I'll crush ye barnacles" gusto.
The middle of a bloody battle is a strange time to be asking soldiers fighting for your cause whether they are righteous enough to charge up the hill by your side. This is a political crisis requiring all hands on deck.
Over at the conservative National Review, Steve Stampley suggested that the Project's aim could be to "open up anti-Trump wallets on the left." If that's the case, it's been doing a good job of it. But this is hardly a "grift," as the author charged. The anti-Trump forces, whether left, center or right, are getting enormous value for their money.
It's fascinating to see partisans on the right as well as the left grow uncomfortable at the prospect of conservatives and liberals agreeing on anything, even matters of national urgency. But, somehow, many can't set aside the Hatfield vs. McCoy mentality long enough to replace a president mired in corruption, burdened by incompetence and perhaps beholden to a foreign adversary.
The many prominent Republicans who have endorsed Biden should ease the path for voters reluctant to vote for a Democrat. They include former Govs. Rick Snyder of Michigan, John Kasich of Ohio and Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania. Chuck Hagel, former defense secretary and senator from Nebraska, is on board. So are former Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and John McCain's widow.
As for the New Yorker's question, "Should progressives trust" the Lincoln Project, the answer should be "Ask again after Nov. 3." In the meantime, they should get on their hands and knees and thank these guys. There's still a war to be won, and they know how to fight it.
Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.