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The secret history of the shadow campaign time magazine:


After the election on November 3, a strange thing happened: nothing. The country got ready for chaos. Liberal groups had said they would take to the streets and planned hundreds of demonstrations all over the country. Militias on the right were getting ready for battle. Before Election Day, 75% of Americans said they were worried about violence in a poll.

Instead, an eerie quiet descended. When President Trump wouldn’t give up, there wasn’t a big protest, just silence. On November 7, when the media called the race for Joe Biden, people all over the U.S. celebrated the democratic process that got rid of Trump.

The secret history of the shadow campaign time magazine
The secret history of the shadow campaign time magazine:

A second strange thing happened as Trump tried to change the result: business turned against him. Many of them had backed Trump’s campaign and agreed with his policies, but they still asked him to give up. Something didn’t seem right to the President. Trump said on Dec. 2 that everything was “very, very strange.” “Within a few days of the election, there was a concerted effort to declare the winner, even though many important states were still counting.”

The secret history of the shadow campaign time magazine:

Behind the scenes, there was a plot going on that both stopped the protests and made it easier for CEOs to fight back. Both surprises happened because left-wing activists and business leaders worked together in a loose way. The deal was made official by a short statement from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO that came out on Election Day and didn’t get much attention. Both sides would come to see it as an unspoken deal, inspired by the summer’s large, sometimes violent protests for racial justice, in which the forces of labor and capital worked together to keep the peace and fight Trump’s attack on democracy.

The handshake between business and labor was just one part of a huge, cross-party effort to protect the election. This extraordinary shadow effort wasn’t meant to win the vote, but to make sure it was free, fair, credible, and not tainted in any way. Over the course of more than a year, a loosely organized group of operatives worked hard to protect America’s institutions from an unstoppable pandemic and a President who wanted to rule by himself.

Even though most of this activity was on the left, it was not part of the Biden campaign and crossed ideological lines, with nonpartisan and conservative actors making important contributions. It wasn’t a Trump victory that the shadow campaigners were trying to stop. It was such a bad election that there was no way to tell who won. This was a failure of the most important part of democratic self-governance, which has been a hallmark of the United States since its founding.

All parts of the election were affected by their work. They got states to change their voting systems and laws, and they helped get hundreds of millions of dollars from both the public and private sectors. They fought off lawsuits that tried to stop people from voting, got armies of people to work at polling places, and got millions of people to vote by mail for the first time. They were able to get social media companies to fight misinformation more strongly, and they used data-driven strategies to stop viral smears.

They ran national public awareness campaigns that helped people understand how the vote count would go over days or weeks. This kept Trump’s conspiracy theories and false claims of victory from getting more attention. After Election Day, they kept an eye on every pressure point to make sure Trump couldn’t change the outcome. “The untold story of the election is the thousands of people from both parties who made the victory of American democracy at its very core,” says Norm Eisen, a well-known lawyer and former Obama Administration official who recruited Republicans and Democrats to the board of the Voter Protection Program.

For Trump and his allies were running their own campaign to mess up the election. The President insisted for months that mail-in ballots were a plot by the Democrats and that the election would be “rigged.” His stooges in the states tried to stop them from being used, and his lawyers filed dozens of fake lawsuits to make it harder to vote. This was a continuation of the GOP’s long history of trying to stop people from voting. Before the election, Trump made plans to stop a fair count of the votes. And in the months after Nov. 3, he tried to steal the election he had lost by filing lawsuits, making up conspiracy theories, putting pressure on state and local officials, and finally calling his army of supporters to a rally on Jan. 6 that ended in violence that killed people at the Capitol.

The people who worked for democracy watched with worry. “Every week, it felt like we were in a fight to make this election happen without the country falling apart,” says former GOP Representative Zach Wamp, a Trump supporter who helped run a bipartisan council to protect elections. “Looking back, we can say that this thing went pretty well, but in September and October, it wasn’t at all clear that this would be the case.”


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