Forget the hat, you're going to need a tin foil bodysuit for this one.
"The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election"
Oh, well, that doesn't run a chill up my spine at all.
Writer Molly Ball notes towards the beginning of the piece that once the media called the election for Joe Biden,
"...people thronged cities across the U.S. to celebrate the democratic process that resulted in Trump's ouster."
A little tip for Ball, when you are celebrating "the democratic process" you might want to use a different term than "ouster." Dictators are ousted, in a democracy, leaders are simply defeated.
Of course she, and those involved, don't see it that way and that speaks volumes. They want people to know about their good works, they want to be celebrated for what they did:
That's why the participants want the secret history of the 2020 election told, even though it sounds like a paranoid fever dream–a well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information.
You see, it's not a paranoid fever dream.
That's because it actually happened.
A powerful cabal worked to "change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information."
But that in no way is "rigging."
It's just "fortifying."
They were not rigging the election; they were fortifying it. And they believe the public needs to understand the system's fragility in order to ensure that democracy in America endures.
Oh, I see, they weren't rigging an election to ensure the defeat of a disfavored candidate who threatened their cozy sinecures, they were just "fortifying it."
Interesting choice of words. "Rigging" is something you do from scratch. "Fortifying," is when you make something that already exists, stronger.
Oh, so they want us to know that they just made the rigging of the election that was already in place better.
I appreciate the clarification.
Using the word "fortify" is also interesting given they fenced off the Capital and deployed thousands of troops to stand guard.
They also feel the "public needs to understand."
Understand what, exactly?
A second odd thing happened amid Trump's attempts to reverse the result: corporate America turned on him. Hundreds of major business leaders, many of whom had backed Trump's candidacy and supported his policies, called on him to concede. To the President, something felt amiss. "It was all very, very strange," Trump said on Dec. 2. "Within days after the election, we witnessed an orchestrated effort to anoint the winner, even while many key states were still being counted."
In a way, Trump was right.
"In a way."
There was a conspiracy unfolding behind the scenes, one that both curtailed the protests and coordinated the resistance from CEOs. Both surprises were the result of an informal alliance between left-wing activists and business titans.
Don't you hate it when your paranoid fever dreams fall short of reality?
It is so embarrassing.
The article goes through the process one by one.
Sometime in the fall of 2019, Mike Podhorzer became convinced the election was headed for disaster–and determined to protect it.
The disaster he feared was that Trump could win.
Podhorzer is senior adviser to the president of the AFL-CIO, and his purported concern was that Trump was sowing doubt about the integrity of mail-in ballots. He wanted to "protect" the election, but what he really wanted to protect was his own power and that of the organization he worked for.
The Fight Back Table,...
Note: Had a conservative written that, the article would already have been flagged for promoting violence.
...a coalition of "resistance" organizations, had begun scenario-planning around the potential for a contested election, gathering liberal activists at the local and national level into what they called the Democracy Defense Coalition.
The coalition grew to include a who's-who of progressive politics from Planned Parenthood to MoveOn to Greenpeace and so on that mobilized a get-out-the-vote campaign targeting Democratic constituencies.
That is all fine and legal and expected, but Ball doesn't frame this part of the program as a mundane partisan project, that doesn't get the clicks. No, Trump was a dictator and might need to be removed from office forcibly.
There was a higher purpose here.
What he wanted to know was not how American democracy was dying but how it might be kept alive.
How do you keep democracy alive?
By snuffing out voices you disfavor.
THE DISINFORMATION DEFENSE
Bad actors spreading false information is nothing new... Laura Quinn, a veteran progressive operative who co-founded Catalist, began studying this problem a few years ago.
"Disinformation," otherwise known as, "things we don't agree with."
The most important takeaway from Quinn's research, however, was that engaging with toxic content only made it worse. "When you get attacked, the instinct is to push back, call it out, say, ‘This isn't true,'" Quinn says. "But the more engagement something gets, the more the platforms boost it. The algorithm reads that as, ‘Oh, this is popular; people want more of it.'"
Ponder this for a moment, because in this venue, a Time Magazine article, their readers are going to skim right through that and nod approvingly without giving it a second thought. But this is what she is saying:
Engaging in the free exchange of ideas makes it worse.
Makes what worse?
Her and her constituency's grip on power.
The solution, she concluded, was to pressure platforms to enforce their rules, both by removing content or accounts that spread disinformation and by more aggressively policing it in the first place. "The platforms have policies against certain types of malign behavior, but they haven't been enforcing them," she says.
I agree there is a lot of nonsense out there, but I don't for a moment hold myself up as some kind of grand arbiter of what is and is not nonsense nor do I think anyone should. One day its Jewish Space Lasers, the next it's "minimum wage hikes create unemployment" or we're in a "Climate Crisis."
"If there be time to expose through discussion, the falsehoods and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence." -- Justice Louis D. Brandeis established it in his classic concurring opinion in Whitney v. California (1927)
Yeah, we're not doing that anymore.
In November 2019, Mark Zuckerberg invited nine civil rights leaders to dinner at his home, where they warned him about the danger of the election-related falsehoods that were already spreading unchecked. "It took pushing, urging, conversations, brainstorming, all of that to get to a place where we ended up with more rigorous rules and enforcement," says Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, who attended the dinner and also met with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and others. (Gupta has been nominated for Associate Attorney General by President Biden.) "It was a struggle, but we got to the point where they understood the problem. Was it enough? Probably not. Was it later than we wanted? Yes. But it was really important, given the level of official disinformation, that they had those rules in place and were tagging things and taking them down."
Like the Hunter Biden story, uncontested, documented, and corroborated.
That kind of "disinformation."
SPREADING THE WORD
It was crucial for voters to understand that despite what Trump was saying, mail-in votes weren't susceptible to fraud and that it would be normal if some states weren't finished counting votes on election night.
I imagine that was crucial for voters to "understand," as in accept without question or incredulity.
Dick Gephardt, the Democratic former House leader turned high-powered lobbyist, spearheaded one coalition. "We wanted to get a really bipartisan group of former elected officials, Cabinet secretaries, military leaders and so on,
Because of Covid they couldn't meet in person and light cigars with $100 bills which was probably a bummer.
SHOWING UP, STANDING DOWN
Election night began with many Democrats despairing. Trump was running ahead of pre-election polling, winning Florida, Ohio and Texas easily and keeping Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania too close to call. But Podhorzer was unperturbed when I spoke to him that night: the returns were exactly in line with his modeling.
While he was talking, Fox News surprised everyone by calling Arizona for Biden. The public-awareness campaign had worked: TV anchors were bending over backward to counsel caution and frame the vote count accurately. The question then became what to do next.
Yes it did, but was it a "public-awareness campaign" when you work in concert with media outlets to suppress people with inconvenient opinions?
I am less agitated than many regarding the degree of fraud in this election, but I am very agitated regarding free speech and censorship which is where I think the election was indisputably manipulated, and it was right there out in the open.
You can frame the narrative all you want, but if you do it by force, you are no longer working within the confines of a democracy.
And you know those concerns about "mostly peaceful protests" occurring nationwide had Trump won, the potential participants in which had already been inflamed by anti-Trump forces framing the whole thing as a "coup?"
That was ready to be launched with the precision and central control of the D-Day invasion.
The conversation that followed was a difficult one, led by the activists charged with the protest strategy. "We wanted to be mindful of when was the right time to call for moving masses of people into the street," Peoples says. As much as they were eager to mount a show of strength, mobilizing immediately could backfire and put people at risk.
So, they were concerned about "mostly peaceful protests."
Protests that devolved into violent clashes would give Trump a pretext to send in federal agents or troops as he had over the summer.
Which we have right now, occupying the Capital under Biden. But that was not done under a "pretext" mind you, that's just good old solid leadering.
And rather than elevate Trump's complaints by continuing to fight him, the alliance wanted to send the message that the people had spoken.
So the word went out: stand down.
The word went out to the foot soldiers of the left: Stand down.
Protect the Results announced that it would "not be activating the entire national mobilization network today, but remains ready to activate if necessary." On Twitter, outraged progressives wondered what was going on. Why wasn't anyone trying to stop Trump's coup? Where were all the protests?
Why did they think there was going to be a coup? Who told them that? Was that disinformation too? Trump left the White House peacefully exactly as sane people had assumed.
And no, a riot is not a coup, and a Daniel Boone cosplayer in a buffalo hat was not moments away from seizing the nuclear codes.
These people were all ginned up by the left, ready to go, in a coordinated action fed by years of Russian collusion investigations, sham impeachment trials, and endless talking heads likening Trump to Hitler.
Podhorzer credits the activists for their restraint. "They had spent so much time getting ready to hit the streets on Wednesday. But they did it," he says.
They had spent so much time getting ready to hit the streets.
Sounds kind of organized, doesn't it?
Thank you violent leftists for not engaging in an orgy of mayhem and destruction! We know that was hard for you.
"Wednesday through Friday, there was not a single Antifa vs. Proud Boys incident like everyone was expecting. And when that didn't materialize, I don't think the Trump campaign had a backup plan."
In other words, the left's plan if they lost the election was to flood the streets with violent protests, while Trump's master plan was to... counter that?
And Marjorie Taylor Greene is the crazy one.
THE FIVE STEPS TO VICTORY
In Podhorzer's presentations, winning the vote was only the first step to winning the election. After that came winning the count, winning the certification, winning the Electoral College and winning the transition–steps that are normally formalities but that he knew Trump would see as opportunities for disruption. Nowhere would that be more evident than in Michigan, where Trump's pressure on local Republicans came perilously close to working–and where liberal and conservative pro-democracy forces joined to counter it.
The last step, ensuring certification.
It was a perilous moment. If Chatfield and Shirkey agreed to do Trump's bidding, Republicans in other states might be similarly bullied.
The democracy defenders launched a full-court press.
"tHe DeMOrcaCy DEfeNdeRS."
That there might be honest disagreement as to who was defending democracy never occurs to them. They are right and you are wrong.
Protect Democracy's local contacts researched the lawmakers' personal and political motives. Issue One ran television ads in Lansing. The Chamber's Bradley kept close tabs on the process. Wamp, the former Republican Congressman, called his former colleague Mike Rogers, who wrote an op-ed for the Detroit newspapers urging officials to honor the will of the voters. Three former Michigan governors–Republicans John Engler and Rick Snyder and Democrat Jennifer Granholm–jointly called for Michigan's electoral votes to be cast free of pressure from the White House. Engler, a former head of the Business Roundtable, made phone calls to influential donors and fellow GOP elder statesmen who could press the lawmakers privately.
The status quo has been good to these people, it must be protected.
"Of course he's going to try to offer them something," Bassin recalls thinking. "Head of the Space Force! Ambassador to wherever! We can't compete with that by offering carrots. We need a stick."
That stick was intimidation.
If Trump were to offer something in exchange for a personal favor, that would likely constitute bribery, Bassin reasoned. He phoned Richard Primus, a law professor at the University of Michigan, to see if Primus agreed and would make the argument publicly. Primus said he thought the meeting itself was inappropriate, and got to work on an op-ed for Politico warning that the state attorney general–a Democrat–would have no choice but to investigate. When the piece posted on Nov. 19, the attorney general's communications director tweeted it. Protect Democracy soon got word that the lawmakers planned to bring lawyers to the meeting with Trump the next day.
Bribery, of course, and an investigation. Why not?
Then it got chilling.
Reyes' activists scanned flight schedules and flocked to the airports on both ends of Shirkey's journey to D.C., to underscore that the lawmakers were being scrutinized. After the meeting, the pair announced they'd pressed the President to deliver COVID relief for their constituents and informed him they saw no role in the election process. Then they went for a drink at the Trump hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue. A street artist projected their images onto the outside of the building along with the words THE WORLD IS WATCHING.
We can all have a spirited debate over the efficacy of the Michigan vote. I tend to be skeptical that it was "stolen," but that's just an opinion. There are others. The point is, it's impossible to know if the officials made their decisions based on the merits, or their personal beliefs, because that is impossible when simple self-preservation is at stake in the face of the entire Michigan establishment (and beyond) threatening them.
"It's astounding how close we came, how fragile all this really is," says Timmer, the former Michigan GOP chair.
I wonder, how fragile what is?
Their grip on power? A status quo that keeps them fat and happy while vast swaths of America wither away amid joblessness, opioid addiction, and the sense of powerlessness to do anything about it because of these very people?
Regardless of how the election turned out, it was going to end, and a president was going to take the oath of office. I was always confident of that. The system would work, creaky as it is.
These people weren't defending democracy. They were defending their own interests.
You don't defend democracy by snuffing out voices and opinions that threaten your grip on power. You don't defend democracy by intimidating officials who might make a decision you don't like. You don't defend democracy by getting together with every special-interest group for which the system is working, in a coordinated effort to silence your opposition.
Perhaps the greatest insult here is that they want you to know what they did. They are proud of it.
Worse that than that, they sincerely believe it. They are so insulated from opposing views that they have no idea the amount of contempt with which half the country holds them.
On the plus side, we know exactly what they think of us.