Recommended: Interview with Lincoln Project co-founder* from Salon:
* Wilson was a co-founder of The Lincoln Project along with George Conway, Charlie Pierce and others.
In his interview with Dean Wilson has three pieces of advice for the Democrats.
- Stop trying “to nationalize the campaign on things that don't matter to voters right now.”
- Understand that “culture wars are where the Democratic Party goes to die” and craft messages around this.
- Develop a strategy that takes into account that “this is not going to be an election about policy, it will be about personality.”
Here’s are some excerpts:
Democrats need to learn how to jujitsu the culture wars. What they should say is, "Just tell us the truth, Republican candidate X. You just want to say the N-word, you just want permission to say the N-word. That's what this is really about. You don't want African Americans to vote, you're telling us that every day by all these new voting restrictions. But you really, really want to make sure we don't talk about anything that makes you uncomfortable, right? Not being able to say the N-word makes you uncomfortable, doesn't it?"
They don't fight with the knives-out, full-throttle, go-for-the-kill aspect that guys like me who grew up in the Republican system have lived and breathed our entire careers. They don't understand that the psychological nature of the culture war thing comes from a really significant Republican understanding of the country, that it is not homogenous ideologically.
Democrats have to find a way in state and district races to pull across what we call the Bannon Line voters. Steve Bannon hates me with affirming passion, but he came up with a line one time, he said, "If those Lincoln Project guys can pull between three and eight-percent of Republicans away from Trump, he's going to lose."
This is his final advice for Democratic leaders as to what should they be doing right now?
They should be making every Republican candidate, especially the ones who don't seem crazy on paper, they should be making them own January 6th, making them own QAnon, making them own the Putin love fest, they should be making them own all the craziest edges of the Republican Party today, because the craziest edge of the Republican Party is now a plurality of the Republican Party. Make those people, make those candidates own the craziness, make them own the evil, make them own the s**tty behavior.
You need to take, in a game of small numbers, and split off three to eight percent of the Republican vote. Those people will tend to be female, they'll tend to be professional, they'll tend to live in the suburbs, in a more affluent area of suburbs, or they will be independent men who are educated but behaviorally vote Republican. That's the two demos that you're really, really after, and in that regard, they don't want to be seen as associated with a 300-pound fat guy with a Confederate flag in one hand and an AR-15 in the other, yelling about being a Christian nation. They don't want to be that guy. They don't want to be the guy who's wearing the horns taking a s**t in the Capitol. They don't want to be that guy. They don't want to be the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, the Patriot Front weirdo far-right fascist militias. They don't want to be those people.
You have to associate the entire Republican Party with those kind of elements of it, which legitimately they are now a plurality or more of the party. It's not the party of John McCain, George Bush, George HW Bush, Ronald Reagan, Mitt Romney, or anybody else you've ever seen before. It is now a party of the kooks, the conspiracy theorists, the QAnon-ers, the nutcases, the bad guys, and the Big Lie people. In all those cases, it's important I think to link them together inextricably.
It is debatable whether the ads from The Lincoln Project (see my first comment) have swung any elections. There have been reports that they really got to Donald Trump which is some small satisfaction. If you search “are the Lincoln ads effective” you come up with articles like this from Fox News:
A significant number of swing voters may not be influenced to vote Democratic by people like Rick Wilson. sFor one thing, they are unlikely to read Salon or watch MSNBC. It is far more likely Democratic Party decision makers will get his message and the messages from other anti-Trump Republicans from the acerbic Rick Wilson and the snarky Charlie Pierce (see quote below)* to the mellow Michael Steele who is a regular political analyst on MSNBC and who joined and starred in a Lincoln Project commercial in 2020.
* “His trolley went around the bend and off the tracks. His sanity had expired and met its maker. It has ceased to be. It was a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace. It’s kicked the bucket, rung down the curtain, and joined the bleeding choir invisible. But, alas, this is not yet an ex-administration*, and it still derives its only energy from the incredibly toxic stew of vengeful rage and inflamed victimhood that is the only sign of sentient life in the brain of its president. Charlie Pierce about Trump
See first comment below for addendum