Donald Trump, Road to Majority
Former President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the 2024 Road to Majority Conference in Washington on June 22, 2024. Photo credit: © Gripas Yuri/Abaca via ZUMA Press

Democrats are finally learning: Being the adult in a food fight no longer works.

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What’s the most ingenious cure for the misinformation flooding out of right wing platforms that now seemingly make up the majority of “mainstream” media: Share Donald Trump’s own words with his supporters. 

They just did exactly that in Pennsylvania, a critical swing state, and Team Trump is apoplectic. 

Here’s how it all shook out:

This year, the period in which Keystone State voters can request mail-in ballots opened very early, on June 13.  And not long after, Trump, a longtime foe of mail-in voting — abruptly reversed himself and began urging supporters to vote by mail. 

The Republicans launched something called “Swamp the Vote” — a call for a massive turnout in the form of mail-in and early voting. 

Enter stage left, an unexpected and perfect counterpoint to “Swamp the vote”: an ad featuring Trump’s own, actual, spoken words denouncing voting by mail: 



The former president went on to claim (of course with no foundation) that thousands of votes cast for him had ended up in creeks, waste paper baskets, and, his supporters might well have concluded, smuggled out of voting centers inside human body cavities. 

Unsurprisingly, Team Trump now would like everyone to forget he ever said that. So the ad, they grouse, is a dirty trick. 

They’ve even called it “election interference!” And who knows more about election interference than Team Trump? 

In truth, it’s not election interference, but smart partisanship, a perfectly legitimate, fact-based communication aimed at Pennsylvania voters. The 30-second spot was created and paid for by Democrats — the Pennsylvania Values PAC (as indicated at the end of the ad).

Trump is suing to stop the ad. But since he did actually say all those things there is no legal basis to force a halt to it. 

You have to admit, it’s clever. All the material is 100% accurate, no AI deep fakes or out of context edits were required to have Trump hoisted on his own petard.

He doesn’t seem to have much of a moral case either. 

His original attack on mail-in voting was completely based on self-serving lies and intended only to give him an advantage. The conventional wisdom was that Republicans are more likely to vote at the polls than use mail ballots.

Only when the actual facts proved otherwise, did he change his tune. 

Even more deeply ironic: One major reason Democrats wound up crushing Republicans in mail-in voting was the impact of Trump’s own lies and exhortations — during a pandemic, no less. He scared his own voters away from sending in a ballot (which was a far less hazardous way to vote than standing in long lines with potentially contagious individuals). 

In 2020, this resulted in the late Blue wave, where Trump’s leads vanished as delayed-count mailed-in votes were tallied. Trump, naturally, ignored the logical explanation of his own campaign staff, and proceeded to declare that the reversal of his early leads was proof the election had been rigged.

It took awhile (and quite a few after-school special tutorial sessions), but even Trump eventually got postal religion — realizing his anti-mail-in jeremiads were lowering Republican turnout and cooking his own electoral goose. 

And since he is never wrong, Trump cannot simply admit to such a naked reversal. So he’s found himself trapped in a cage of his own making. 

To be sure, many, probably most, politicians change their minds and their positions over time on some matters, and that’s usually a good thing. But Trump is congenitally unable to admit error or concede that his thinking has evolved — on anything. Because his entire brand is based on his self-proclaimed infallibility and innate genius in all matters, which is what cult members expect from their gurus. 


It is also beyond mere pot-calling-the-kettle-black ironic that Trump and his scheming homunculi, like Steve Bannon and Roger Stone, would be aggrieved about “dirty tricks” — especially given that there’s nothing at all dirty about this “trick,” it’s just smart political gamesmanship. It’s clear Team Trump’s fabricated outrage is really about something far more important: scoring political points. Hence, the use of the always locked-and-loaded, whining, “election interference” meme.

Meanwhile, Republicans remain notorious for actual dirty tricks — even illegal dirty tricks — like using fake AI robocalls to convince Black voters and elderly Democratic voters not to vote at all.

Now, that’s truly nasty stuff. In response, it seems that Democrats finally realize that civility is no longer effective in a time of carnival cagematch politics. But unlike the GOP, they’re playing rough without breaking the law or trumpeting lies or outright falsehoods. 

So perhaps this ad can be viewed as Democrats finally getting strategic and even adopting a more ethically constrained version of some of the GOP’s unsavory tactics, realizing that fighting asymmetrical warfare was a bust — being the adult in a goon food-fight wasn’t working out.

Trump ridicules Democrats for being wimps, and wants them to “man up.” 

In Pennsylvania, he might just be getting his wish.  

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  • Russ Baker

    Russ Baker is Editor-in-Chief of WhoWhatWhy. He is an award-winning investigative journalist who specializes in exploring power dynamics behind major events.

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