What it will take to hold our own.
Walk Away from Never Trump
The Lincoln Project isn’t the only purveyor of fake conservative grift.
When one member of a romantic partnership practices infidelity, he or she becomes hyper-paranoid about the other partner committing the same crime. Vice has this way of snowballing: a guilty conscience magnifies suspicion, as well as jealousy, pride, and anger. Call it projection, the confessional instinct, gaslighting, or just plain hubris: cheaters often accuse their victims of the very thing they make a habit of doing, while continuing to abuse them psychologically.
Marriage may not be the perfect metaphor for the relationship between people and their leaders (official and de facto) in a democratic republic. But there are a few key similarities. Ideally, both parties are mutually subjugated to the letter of law. One party may be tasked with official leadership, but each is bound by reciprocal fidelity to the law and to the other.
Or at least they should. As it stands now, a pattern of narcissistic abuse endemic to toxic relationships is recognizable in the American ruling class. Everything the rich implicitly owe to the rest has been inverted.
The Lincoln Project is the apotheosis of this dynamic. Marketed to mild-mannered conservatives as the best chance to take down Trumpism without sacrificing principle, the group turned out to be even more corrupt than its critics on the Right suspected. On January 10, Ryan Girdusky broke the story: John Weaver, founding member, has been soliciting sex from young male interns for years on end.
Girdusky’s scoop set off a cascade of similar stories, notably from Saurabh Sharma and Julie Kelly, who put Weaver’s depravity into the broader context of the hypocrisy, greed, and vicious mendacity of the group’s other members. In a writeup for New York magazine—Miranda Green described precisely how Lincoln Project leadership allowed Weaver’s behavior to fester as an open secret at the organization. They all knew all along. With the organization having served its purpose to its backers and defenders on the Left—distract conservatives, validate the #Resistance, and suppress the Trump vote—it was unceremoniously cut loose to die.
The story here is not that DC’s self-anointed gatekeepers too often turn out to be sex pests and money launderers. That’s old news. The real story is about legacy media and establishment politicos teaming up to run cover for an operation that billed itself as the moral cure for Trumpism, while knowing full well the sickness its founding members foisted upon vulnerable young men.
The perversity fit a pattern: While the Lincoln Project made piles of money maligning President Trump as a sexual deviant, a veritable Harvey Weinstein was stalking among them. While slandering Trump as a financial illiterate, Rick Wilson was using the proceeds of the sham advocacy group to pay hundreds of thousands in back taxes. While openly fretting that the crazy orange man would have access to the nuclear codes, they promoted forever wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and worked to keep the military industrial complex in power against the most peaceful American president in recent history. Day in and day out, Lincoln Project hatchet men portrayed Trump as a human grift magnet from within an organization whose business philosophy was “I grift, therefore I am.”
Now, Trump is out of office and the Lincoln Project is history. But the Grift Right they came from, a movement paid handsomely to nudge Red America ever closer to complete defeat, lives on.
Never Ever (Ever) Getting Back Together
The true project of the Establishment right now, and especially of the Grift Right, is to subvert the morale and self-belief of right-wing people such that, in the future, they will once again quietly accept whatever forever war, whatever exploitative “free trade” policy Establishment donors dream up. The Never Trump GOP’s infidelity is not a matter of momentary indiscretion. Their inflated sense of superiority, self-absorption, arrogance, entitlement, and oblivious self-regard points instead to the fact that they are akin to narcissistic abusers.
And there is only one way to manage a relationship with a narcissistic abuser.
Patriots must go no-contact with the Grift Right.
No-contact is exactly what it sounds like: No more airtime. No more think pieces on their antics (making this my last). No more trying to explain or morally justify populism to them. They don’t get it; they don’t want to. There’s nothing a narcissist fears more than being abandoned, and they will likely continue to lash out as the pretty lies about their moral superiority crumble.
The project of building the good, the true, and the beautiful belongs to those who strive earnestly to embody those things. As the Lincoln Project and groups like it that infest the current GOP are torn inevitably apart by their own ugliness, when they go looking for more venues, we are reminded that inclusivity is not in itself a virtue. Narcissists can’t handle olive branches; they can only strip them of their leaves and use them to beat the giver.
These empty sophists never tire of being wrong, practically and morally. They are the authorities and experts of nothing but private and public abuse. They have told the American people loud and clear that there isn’t a length they wouldn’t go to maintain power, and nothing they wouldn’t do behind the scenes to enjoy it.
The mask is off. The myth is over. Never Grift.