As many of us suspected, there are many familiar right-wing names involved with these "reopen our state" rallies. Polls show the vast majority of Americans support the quarantine, so what on earth makes people want to go out in a large group and risk getting COVID-19? Melissa Ryan, who writes the very good Control-Alt-Delete newsletter, explains:
A Who’s Who of the American Right is behind all of this.. The protest in Michigan, which I believe is the largest we’ve seen to date, was organized by a right-wing group funded by the De Vos family. Three of the largest Facebook groups are run by the Dorr Brothers, The Convention of States is hosting an interactive map called Open the States, tracking which states are planning protests and are linking to those groups’ Facebook pages. The organization’s head is Tea Party co-founder Mark Meckler.
The Guardian’s Jason Wilson reports that “while protesters in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and other states claim to speak for ordinary citizens, many are also supported by street-fighting rightwing groups like the Proud Boys, conservative armed militia groups, religious fundamentalists, anti-vaccination groups and other elements of the radical right.” (And the dark money groups that fund them.)
Is the Trump political operation behind this? I have no way of knowing that but I will say they fit into Trump’s political agenda and priorities perfectly. Trump’s desire to reopen the economy sooner than later (and against the advice of virtually every expert) is well known. As is Trump’s increasing conflict with several U.S. governors, and obvious jealousy over the media attention and accolades some of them are receiving. The protests allow Trump to claim he has the mandate to reopen the country sooner rather than later while also attempting to blame governors for his Administration’s own failures.
There are a couple of pieces to these efforts, and the one that certainly makes me believe this is tied to the Trump campaign is, some of the names turning up are tied to Republican data collection. That's the kind of information that was used so effectively to identify aggrieved potential Trump supporters in 2016 by Steve Bannon, Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. (See Christopher Wylie's book "Mindf*ck".)
Will Bunch writes here about the media is covering this faux movement:
The Washington Post covered the story, although they didn't dig as deep as I would have liked:
But ABC News? Wise up, guys. MAJOR FAIL.