How the conspiracy to unseat Trump weaponized irrationality and hollowed out the Left
Essential knowledge to understand our political moment is not what you've been told
Read that quote from Time Magazine and memorize the words: “a well funded cabal of powerful people…to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information.” I can’t think of a better description of a political conspiracy, and no one is denying it. As a matter of fact, it’s a brag.
This plot was originally designed to unseat President Trump. The splintering of the Movement Left and the politicizing of COVID weren’t the aims of this conspiracy—they were products of it. Time Magazine laid it all out in February 2021, right after Biden’s inauguration. I’d rather Donald Trump not be president of the United States, but I’m not in favor of oligarchs, political machines, and intelligence services orchestrating the downfall of any president and you shouldn’t be either.
The gist of this conspiracy is that the political machine of the Institutional Left (I’ll break this down momentarily) partnered with CEOs and the Chamber of Commerce to unseat Trump in 2020. You might wonder how supposed left institutions got in bed with CEOs and the Chamber. And you might wonder what COVID has to do with this. Read on.
HOW IT ALL WENT DOWN
Time Magazine published this work of public relations penned by Molly Bell in the first week of February 2021: The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign that Saved the 2020 Election. It tells the story of how the left’s institutions and their supposedly sworn enemies—CEOs and the Chamber of Commerce—conspired to use the left’s influence network to unseat Donald Trump.
According to the article it all started back in 2019. The Institutional Left, which consists of monied union leadership and family foundation-funded ‘progressive non-profits,’ conspired with CEOs and the Chamber of Commerce in a “good conspiracy” to keep Trump from winning in 2020. The unfolding pandemic provided the perfect opportunity to dial up the urgency of their messaging to “YOU MIGHT DIE” if you don’t vote correctly. This was ground zero for the politicizing of COVID.
Time Magazine describes a “radical partnership” of unions with the Chamber of Commerce. They claim it was appropriate because Trump was so threatening, that Democracy would crumble without their behind-the-scenes machinations. A state of exceptionalism was proclaimed by the players in this conspiracy which means the players were high enough up on the food chain to have the power to change the rules and not be questioned. They said this was about handwaving-hair-on-fire “saving democracy.” But really what we’re talking about is the establishment of a new politics-as-usual. This is a beachhead. They’re not giving up this territory. They’ll keep these alliances and power-through-public-health for as long as we let them.
Key concepts to understand this conspiracy:
The Institutional Left is an ecosystem of labor unions, family foundation-funded ‘progressive’ operations, lobbying groups, and all branches of the Democratic National Committee. This is The Establishment end of the Democratic Party and it’s where the money is. Institutional Left is integrated down to Democratic Party grassroots through groups like Democratic Socialists of America and various state Democratic Party affiliated progressive clubs and caucuses that always participate in elections, but rarely (never, actually) offer ‘progressive critique’ of the party. This is the part of the left that is paid for their labor, and those writing the checks. It’s the business end of the stick.
The Movement Left consists of all those unpaid lefties for whom the Institutional Left depends on for votes, donations, and volunteering. We don’t get a say in what the Institutional Left does and we’re expected to cheerlead for whatever bullshittery they put forth. The Movement Left doesn’t necessarily do that though, and that’s where you have the only real vibrancy of an American Left.
Please know that these distinctions do NOT reflect how far left on the spectrum anyone is. Instead the distinction is how close to power one is. It’s not the “far left,” that did this. It was the Donor Class of Democrats and their toadies who crave power. Some of them may be more left than others. Most aren’t. They’re only interested in their own power. This is the central difference between the reality of our politics and the fantasy that’s promulgated via media and social media. If there’s one thing I’d like everyone to know it’s that the money/power dynamic always trumps the political spectrum dynamic. Those who pushed all the propaganda were NOT the “far left.” I’m the far left. The people who pushed the propaganda were establishment Democrats (who aren’t ‘left’ at all) and their lackeys in the Institutional Left which is the business end of the Democratic Party. This is more than cultural differences. This is a gaping material difference between those with money and power and those without.
According to Time Magazine’s article, the conspiracy to ‘save democracy’ relied on structure within the Institutional Left to provide a network of influencers who could reach voters, and provide social media ‘shock troops’ who operated in a protected environment courtesy of Silicon Valley billionaires who also signed-on to the scheme. From The Twitter Files we now know what big tech offered: freedom of speech in an environment where they could assume their opposition’s speech would be censored.
The ‘left network’ consisted of all the myriad organizations that could either be ordered to carry the messaging; convinced to do it; or eager to do it. The ‘shock troops’ are the usual suspects who can found in chat groups formed for activists to share media to either promote or swarm. If you’re ‘on the left’ chances are you interact regularly with accounts that seem to be ‘regular joes,’ but are in fact employees of any number of these organizations, wannabe employees of these organizations, or cheerleaders who have no idea what they’re actually doing. The people at the top of the hierarchy can’t function without the rest of us holding them up.
COVID HERESY WAS KEY
I’ve worked on political campaigns for more than a decade, and the first thing you’re asked on any given tactic is “What’s the urgency?” There were hundreds of ways the Institutional Left could’ve run their political operation against Trump but they chose COVID because it offered the urgency. Trump was a threat to public health. “You’ll die if Trump is re-elected.” These are once-in-a-lifetime messages. So easy. Members of the Institutional Left like Kamala Harris, Laurence Tribe, Amy Siskind and Brooklyn Dad were sworn antivaxxers when Trump was in office, but if you had a vaccine injury in 2021 under Biden (when I did) you were treated as a covid heretic. If your health countered their asinine messaging then too bad for you.
In the course of executing this plan, COVID heretics who were identified on social media attracted the attention of their ‘network influencers’ and were swarmed by the Institutional Left’s chat-group soldiers who, in my circles, might be DSA members, or employees or activists with unions and progressive organizations. It was a tactical decision to make a big show of quashing any COVID Heresy in order to reduce the likelihood of anyone else speaking up. If the COVID heretic were of sufficient stature, none other than aides of the White House would step in to have their social media accounts suspended.
Another distinction worth understanding:
TACTICS are the actual efforts put forth in support of an overarching action plan.
STRATEGY is the action plan. It’s those in power hand down to their organization’s employees and activists in order to take the steps (tactics) to achieve an objective.
The social media tactics employed by the Institutional Left hit vaccine injured particularly hard because the mainstream media was all-in on the Institutional Left’s strategy and performed the tactic of publishing ONLY that material which supported their objectives. Social media outlets like TikTok, Twitter and Facebook were the only places you could find regular people discussing their experiences with the shots.
Those like myself who were hurt by the vaccine weren’t the only heretics hunted in this project. Their tactics also called for silencing independent media covering the untold side of the story, and crushing any medical professional not toeing the official party line. Medical professionals have built-in mechanisms to ensure message discipline. If you go off script you’ll find your license to practice dinged.
What had started as a program to unseat Trump thus became an all-out war to control COVID information. Democratic Party elite came up with the strategy and deployed their resources to carry out tactics to achieve the goal. The party’s shock troops, despite many proclaiming to be ‘socialists,’ defended the vaccine-only approach that made possible the windfall profits of pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Moderna. Kind of ironic, doncha think. But young DSA members were led to believe that the vaccine-only approach to COVID represented the beginnings of a full-blown national healthcare system.
Americans would get all of the bad and none of the good of a “national health,” as party elites pushed all the worst aspects of the pandemic mitigation (mass surveillance, tracking and discrimination) as if they were a shiny new national healthcare system.
This wasn’t exclusive to the US. Similar forces in Canada and UK were discrediting the very idea of national healthcare, which I believe was a goal of their Institutional Left, Donor Class strategy.
None of this would’ve worked without first limbering up our brain muscles to accept irrationality as the new reasoned response. One of my favorite examples of this weaponized irrationality is the wild about-face made by servants of the Institutional Left. Prior to Biden winning the election these high-level political operatives were sworn antivaxxers. After the election they changed their tune despite the fact that there’s no difference between the mRNA vaccines developed under Trump’s administration and those bought and distributed under Biden’s administration. They’re the same damn shots.
Weaponized irrationality was the main tactic used to ensure compliance with lockdowns that killed small businesses and shut down schools, threatening the employment status of working parents across the country. This irrationality enforced masking despite the fact that public health leaders such as Anthony Fauci publicly spoke out against masking. It enforced vaccine mandates even though Congressional leaders like Nancy Pelosi spoke out against such measures. This irrationality made it impossible to have a civil discussion of disastrous COVID policy at all. It led to many dying on ventilators in hospitals, despite clear evidence that venting was killing people. It led to sick seniors being sent to assisted living facilities to infect the seniors there. This irrationality almost made universal vaccine passports a thing.
My favorite example of weaponized irrationality was the Institutional Left’s insistence that the truckers who SHUT DOWN ALL AUTOMOTIVE COMMERCE between the US and Canada were ‘petit bourgeois’ which allowed the goddamn Teamsters to dismiss their collective action.
The irrationality continues to this day.
Our response to COVID is now so unmoored from reality that California passed laws that criminalize medical doctors for disagreeing with politicians. This is going to be catastrophic for patients with ill-defined syndromes that have no ‘official CDC’ imprimatur. This includes all autoimmune, ME/CFS, fibromyalgia…and ironically, Long COVID in addition to vaccine injuries which are basically outlawed in California now.
Another example of an attempt to institutionalize this irrationality: Rhode Island considered a bill to disqualify individuals for employment, impose monthly fines and “double tax” any unvaccinated person over the age of 16.
And for all those who claimed the Democratic response to COVID was “nuanced” this legislation offered by Democrats in Rhode Island was designed to make medical exemption to the mRNA vaccine impossible. You may PETITION the legislature (lol) but only if you 1) have three licensed physicians (willing to risk losing their practice) to sign-on to your petition, 2) in the presence of a notary; and 3) the state would still reserve the right to refuse exemption, regardless.
None of this is rational. None of it “follows science.” This is plain old Mayberry Machiavellianism put forth by those who believe their political team can’t win without subterfuge and ratfuckery.
It’s also an enormous material issue that the vaccines never worked as promised. If after four doses of mRNA you’re still susceptible (and seemingly more so) to COVID and long COVID, then it’s irrational to mandate vaccines in order to keep your job or your place in school. And yet the Institutional Left has pushed the science-free vaccine-only policy because 1) they’re working with Chamber of Commerce to get people ‘back to work,’ 2) they’re using public health as a stand-in for actual provision of healthcare that would help people, and 3) they’d rather pick an imaginary fight with right-wingers than address real material issues facing voters.
And the most chilling part to me is that this irrationality isn’t going away. It’s gonna be used against us until we make it stop. We saw this immediately in the Ukraine conflict where we’re told repeatedly that nazis aren’t nazis when they’re our nazis. This is the kind of thing that happens right before something truly awful happens on a mass scale.
THEY ACTUALLY HATE DEMOCRACY
Back to the Time Magazine article, the cabal’s premise couldn’t be more condescending.
“Democracy is not self-executing” said one member of the group to Time Magazine. “We’re not rigging an election,” said another, “we’re fortifying” it. Apparently “democracy” is inconceivable without a “well funded cabal of powerful people…to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information,” which is the direct quote that I used to kick off this essay. The same people who said this to Time Magazine also want you to believe that once these billionaires get their way that things will somehow get better for us, however the offer does not apply to Elon Musk.
Opinion pieces that took as their premise that Democracy is a plaything for billionaires popped up like mushrooms with headlines like “Democracy works when there is less of it,” and “It’s time to give the elites a bigger say in choosing the president” (Financial Times and Washington Post, respectively). Bloomberg went a step further saying that what we really need right now are a few good dictators.
This self-described cabal, which included our beloved Institutional Left, saw COVID as an opportunity, not just for the 2020 campaign but for capitalism itself. For all the “behind the scenes” mucking around that the Institutional Left did to “save Democracy itself,” you’d think they might’ve at least been able to get us a full stimulus check.
Instead we got a rebate on coffins and organized attacks on any actual action toward Medicare For All during a pandemic (such as Force the Vote). Instead of being a voice for workers and people who were dying without healthcare, this billionaire fan club sought to cancel the idea of Medicare For All, as well as anyone who advocated for it. By the way, this is when hate for Jimmy Dore first started in earnest. It was always about protected the protected class for capitalism. It was never about pushing a left agenda.
THE UNVACCINATED BECAME THE UNTOUCHABLES
After the election the cabal used all the tools at their disposal to promote their new, post-Trump existential threat: The Unvaccinated. Perception Management Teams called “nudge units” that worked through official social media backdoors, demanded deplatforming of anyone who got out of line. Only right-wing extremists question the untested mRNA technology. And they’re basically terrorists. If their vaccine-only policies caused you harm it was a sign of your actual right-wing orientation instead of anti-worker policy pushed through to satisfy billionaires who were frantically transferring wealth from workers to their own pockets.
After the election this conspiratorial cabal joined forces with corrupt federal agencies to push unquestioning compliance with disastrous US COVID policy. “Shut down the entire country (because we, the professional managerial class, can work from home)! Vaccine passports are freedom (for me and not for thee)! Fire anyone who doesn’t take the shot (off with their heads! Gosh this feels good!)” “Enjoy your winter of death and despair (which…never happened).”
BOLD STRATEGY—HOW’D IT WORK FOR THEM?
They unseated Trump, but have you heard of the DeSantis Democrat? Some of Florida’s most blue areas swung up to 30 points to vote to re-elect Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, whose most notable policies of the last year or so have been to reject this sprawling Covideology. Florida eschewed lockdowns and school closures, while the state’s Surgeon General took the media to discuss myocarditis risk for young people taking the vaccine. Many Democrats welcomed this in the Sunshine State. In another sign of how irrationality has taken hold, I’ve talked to quite a few political operatives since the election and not ONE recognizes that DeSantis’s COVID policy had anything to do with his surge among Democrats.
Virgina’s 2021 Governor race should’ve given Florida Dems a clue of what was about to happen (but Florida Dems aren’t known for responding to reality). The off-year governor’s race is always considered a bellwether for post-Presidential election sentiment. As such, Virginia Democrats were shocked by their 2021 gubernatorial defeat. However, what they lacked in election-winning they made up for in excuses (and dirty tricks). They blamed the loss on everything from critical race theory to transgender bathrooms. But the real story is one of material conditions instead of culture wars.
In the Virginal race, the Republican’s closing argument on the day of the election was simply ‘closing schools was bad.’ People simply couldn’t manage their lives with uncertainty in school closings. Polling data backs this up.
In this graph notice the steep drop in late October. This corresponded to a bizarre last minute announcement of school closings for “mental health,” and “teacher burnout” prior to election day. This was a real material issue for parents can’t work when schools are closed. It’s not just an inconvenience. Imagine being home with no pay deciding who to vote for, while worrying if you’ll have a job at the end of the month. You can see the result of that tactic in the tracking poll below.
Governor Northam announced these closings on October 20, right when the two lines drop precipitously. They didn’t even bother to cloak this political maneuver in public health messaging. It was for ‘mental health,’ and ‘teacher burnout.’ For those with eyes to see, this was a cynical appeal to teacher unions—Randi Weingarten’s American Federation of Teachers, in particular. This stunt cost them the election because voters, unlike the Donor Class of the Institutional Left, can’t afford live-in nannies to pick up the slack. When their kids are home, working parents have to be home too.
COVIDEOLOGY AS FAILED POLITICAL WARFARE
In his excellent autopsy of the institutional left’s COVID policy, Christian Parenti describes how Dem party elite’s Covideology was confused with actual left strategy. In his essay published in The Grayzone he says, “The socialist left, which wants to use state power to discipline capital, has instead accepted the negative image of its goal: state power used to bully, harass, and discipline workers.”
Instead of punching-up at capital they’re punching-down at workers.
Their “embrace of COVID hysteria makes a mockery of the left’s goals of planning, industrial policy, economic redistribution, worker empowerment, and environmental sustainability” says Parenti. In other words, COVID revealed the Institutional Left to be vindictive technocrats rather than rational policy advocates.
It’s a shame because the Movement Left will be paying for this long after mavens of the Institutional Left have retired into their own private consultancies.
Parenti explains what’s really happened, saying, “the situation is worse than a mere political fumble. The left is now actively helping its own enemies…In its unwavering support for mandates, passports, punitive lockdowns, and censorship, the organized left has sided with technocratic elites, the one percent, and the repressive state apparatus everywhere.”
The left actually helped its enemies by frantically attacking those who were just trying to navigate the pandemic. Instead of working on our behalf their strategy was to actively organize tactics against us to please their CEO and Chamber buddies.
The Institutional Left, of which neither you nor I belong to, has gone so far that the basic ideas of bodily autonomy and freedom of speech are understood my many to be the telltale signs of rightwing extremism. They’re not. And if catching rightwing extremists actually mattered to the Institutional Left they could, you know, oppose rightwing extremism (say, in Ukraine), instead of attacking the vaccine injured and shitcoating workers who don’t like 1 in 800 odds of being severely injured by the shot (this number is from Pfizer’s own phase 3 trial data).
While the left continues to “actively help its own enemies” I’m starting to wonder if they can ever stop. None of these strategies worked and they’re plodding on as if they’ve had one success after another. They refuse to acknowledge that the shots are making people sick and killing others. The Institutional Left is out of control and we’d be fools to trust them again without a massive overhaul.
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