There are few families more consequential to the rise of fascism in this country than the Mercers. Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah have been the big-money funders behind most of the most aggressively fascist-minded groups you may have heard of. While the more famous Koch family has centered its political giving around corporate-friendly dismantling of government, the Mercers are the funders for Republicanism's far right, from white nationalist organizations to anti-democratic hoaxes and paranoia.
The Mercers backed Donald Trump's 2016 rise before becoming disenchanted with him somewhere near the midpoint of his term, reportedly unsatisfied with what their political investment had brought them. A new CNBC report, however, suggests that the father-daughter pair are once again mulling whether to back Trump as Trump attempts to retake the presidency on a platform of openly authoritarian rule.
One of the Republican Party’s most influential families may come off the sidelines to financially support Donald Trump’s latest White House run, after years of distancing themselves from him, according to people familiar with the matter.
Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah, have not yet made a final decision on whether they’ll publicly back Trump, these people said. But the Mercers remain friendly with key players in Trump’s orbit, including former senior counselor Kellyanne Conway, according to some of the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of the thinking of the notoriously private Mercer family.
Once again, the real story here is that this story is being shopped to begin with. We have only "people familiar with the matter" to rely on here, which means somebody involved with the Mercers, possibly with their permission, wants the political world to know the Mercer family may be close to choosing the horse they'll bet on.
Is it a prodding meant for the Trump camp, a signal that the family is willing to meet supplicants from Trump's camp and hear them out on why the indicted and furious Trump is again a good investment? Or is it meant to test the waters after the Mercers apparently began to feel uneasy about the publicity that resulted from their successful efforts to push Republicans into white nationalism and anti-democratic extremism?
The Mercers have reportedly become quite sensitive to charges that they support white nationalism, but those reports are from before experts began to more visibly coalesce around the identification of Mercer-backed entities as fascist, so we don't have any word on whether they like that term any better.
That the Mercers are one of the most powerful backers of fascist causes in America seems incontrovertible. An especially good rundown of the Mercer causes and connections was published by Salon a month after the Jan. 6 insurrection.
"The Mercers laid the groundwork for the Trump revolution," Bannon told The New Yorker in 2017. "Irrefutably, when you look at donors during the past four years, they have had the single biggest impact of anybody, including the Kochs." Steve Schmidt, a former Republican strategist and co-founder of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, sees it differently. Rebekah Mercer, he said in an interview with Salon, is the "chief financier or one of the chief financiers of the fascist movement, and that's what it is."
Rebekah Mercer was a co-founder of Parler, the social media network popular with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, militia groups, and the Jan. 6 insurrectionists. Previously known more for their backing of xenophobic far-right groups, Mercer backed-groups leaned heavily towards the promotion of anti-democratic election hoaxes before Trump's attempted coup.
Whatever might have caused the Mercers to sour on Trump during his largely hapless and incompetence-riddled administration, it appears Trump's violent insurrection and attempted coup might have actually boosted his worth in the eyes of the Mercers. Once allegedly disillusioned with the man, apparently the Mercers are mulling returning as major Trump backers now that Trump is promising full-on fascist rule, from the purge of non-MAGA federal workers to the promised mass deportation of millions.
It is something to watch. The Mercers have earned their reputation as America's most prominent backers of fascism. Whatever considerations for "privacy" might have caused their soft retreat from politics during Trump's term may be ignorable now that a candidate is promising a truly fascist agenda of the sort that their money has long gone towards promoting. There is nothing the rest of us can do about it either way, other than to make sure their names and pictures are in the history books as the architects of whatever violence results.
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We talk about North Carolina non-stop on "The Downballot," so it's only natural that our guest on this week's episode is Anderson Clayton, the new chair of the state Democratic Party. Clayton made headlines when she became the youngest state party chair anywhere in the country at the age of 25, and the story of how she got there is an inspiring one. But what she's doing—and plans to do—is even more compelling. Her focus is on rebuilding the party infrastructure from the county level up, with the aim of reconnecting with rural Black voters who've too often been sidelined and making young voters feel like they have a political home. Plus: her long-term plan to win back the state Supreme Court.