The Lincoln Project is a U.S. political group affiliated with the Republican Party — but not too closely. The group has never accepted Donald Trump as either its political leader or personal savior. Members insist that they represent the true spirit of the party founded by Abraham Lincoln in 1854. Their opponents include the QAnon faction, whom Lincolns claim are fascists, and vice versa. The group made a minor ripple with the electorate but a loud splash on CNN and MSNBC, gladly providing internecine commentary about their former colleagues.
The group traces its origins back to before Donald Trump won the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Most had been closely aligned to the reigning Republican Royal Family, the Bushes. They had been happy to support every American conservative position — anti-abortion, Christianity, and war. Lots of wars.
Then Trump came on the scene and proposed to achieve results on all those issues, leaving aside war; and the group re-styled itself as "Never Trumpers." Their clearest policy dispute was that they welcomed widgets and workers from abroad, while Trump would view every import as an enemy attack and every immigrant as a threat to someone's job. The "Gang of Eight" arose and formidable Senators like Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Lindsey Graham were the Republicans' spokesmen. However, after Trump won the Presidency in 2016 election, all of them became spokesmen for sharing in national governance, doing any grumbling in silence. They all caved into Trump, except John McCain, who simply caved in.
After the Republicans lost the House of Representatives in 2018, it became a buyer's market for anti-Trumpers, and the faction chose ever-popular Abraham Lincoln as their undead leader. This was easy and had no family disapproval from the Lincoln clan, as all of them and their direct descendants had all conveniently died out by 1985.
Though Trump was their ostensible foe, several Lincoln Project members asserted that the Republicans would need to lose the U.S. Senate as well to be properly "cleansed." In early 2021, this came to pass, and readers can debate whether the Project or some other wing of the party was responsible.
The two most vocal Lincoln Project members were bearded bully Steve Schmidt and deceptively cool Rick Wilson. Their charge sheet of political dirty tricks stretched way back to the George W. Bush years making Trumpists certain that the Bush Deep State was secretly financing the Lincoln Project. Others involved included:
- Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Joe Scarborough
- Max Boot
- Washington Post token conservative Jennifer Rubin
- The other Jennifer (Horn), formerly the party chairwoman in New Hampshire
Several other former Republicans supported them from the outside, including Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen and Godfather Mafia boss impersonator Anthony Scaramucci. All of them constituted current, former, or pretend Republicans willing to body-slam their own party — a solid-gold interview subject if you were CNN.
Though all were eventually barred from Fox News and subjected to regular attacks by Trump on Twitter, the Lincoln Project took a long lap of honor when it claimed their political messaging had helped Joe Biden win in 2020, this even though 95% of Republicans claimed they had never heard of this project or of Lincoln himself. ("Did he design cars once?")
Money and men
The Lincoln Project styled itself as "sane Republicans." However, sanity doesn't come cheap. The Project raised at least $100 million and stuffed it into an Abe-shaped piggy bank. The stash burned a hole in everyone's pockets. The Project hired high-rolling consultants of the type who had supercharged Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign. Separately, founder John Weaver used some of it to bribe young men to provide "favors." When this came out, Horn abandoned the Lincoln Project in apparent disgust — apparent until other project members disclosed her demand for a stratospheric pay raise with a signing bonus. The group's reputation went downhill faster than its membership roster. Schmidt also bailed and found a nurturing home in the Democratic Party. Then everyone else abandoned ship. Trump had been defeated, which was either Mission Accomplished or Army Routed.