‘Defeat by Truth’: Biden’s Gaza Critics Start an Anti-Trump Campaign

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The Rev. Michael McBride was an early backer of a cease-fire in Gaza, publicly breaking with President Biden’s support for the war months before many other Democrats arrived in a similar place.

Nearly five months before Election Day, Mr. McBride, a co-founder of the group Black Church PAC, remains critical of how the administration has stood by Israel. But he is now leading an effort, alongside other progressive Black activists, strategists and faith leaders, that would indirectly help Mr. Biden by working to defeat former President Donald J. Trump.

It is one of the clearest signs yet that at least some of Mr. Biden’s critics on the left will still work to stop Mr. Trump — even if they are lukewarm on the incumbent president.

“We need to continue to push the president to shift his course on how he is addressing a number of issues, primarily which is Gaza,” Mr. McBride, the lead pastor at The Way Christian Center in Berkeley, Calif., said in an interview, noting that the campaign was not an endorsement of Mr. Biden. But, he said, “we can’t wait for the Biden administration to change their course before we start to sound the alarm.”

“We do realize,” he added, “that defeating Trump is our north star.”

The effort, called “Defeat by Truth,” is in fact a political action committee.

The project, in its early stages, works like this: Supporters sign up to automatically donate as little as one cent when Mr. Trump posts on social media, especially Truth Social. Contributors can cap their monthly donations at any amount. And the money raised will support a coalition of progressive organizations in swing states.

Mr. McBride said the project would also aid organizers working to support candidates like Representatives Jamaal Bowman of New York and Cori Bush of Missouri — early and fierce critics of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza after the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attack. They face significant primary challenges.

Asked if donations would be triggered by every social media post, Mr. McBride said that would happen in response to “something that communicates misinformation about the issues that we’re most concerned about.” He cited issues including militarism, criminal justice, immigration and “criminalizing protests.” .

The focus, he said, will be on social media posts that promote hate speech, attacks on civil liberties or other “remarks that we think are false and betray our core values as people of faith or people of good will.”

The campaign’s website acknowledges “the variable nature of Defeat by Truth donations.”

The project builds on a 2020 campaign called “Defeat by Tweet,” which also did not emphasize endorsing Mr. Biden. Organizers say it raised more than $9 million. This year, they hope to raise and distribute $15 million by November, and to engage one million voters of color, especially in battleground states.

Supporters of the effort include the comic and commentator W. Kamau Bell; Tamika D. Mallory and Philip Agnew, both activists; the faith leaders Traci Blackmon, Otis Moss III, Frederick D. Haynes III and Leah D. Daughtry, who is also a veteran Democratic strategist.

“It circulates the money every time there’s a lie, every time there’s a mistruth, a half-truth, some disinformation,” said Mr. Agnew, a founder of the group Black Men Build, which aims to mobilize Black men to vote. “We’re transmuting the energy that he’s putting out into the world into some good.”

Their efforts come as Mr. Biden continues to face headwinds with Black voters, a key Democratic constituency. In polls, focus groups and conversations with Black Americans in battleground states, some have expressed disaffection with the president and questioned whether they will support his re-election or cast a ballot at all.

Mr. McBride said that typically, organizations like Black Church PAC would be months into their get-out-the-vote campaigns during an election year.

The Gaza war, he said, “has really put a lot of our folks in a place of paralysis because of the moral dissonance.”

Still, he said, he and other organizers felt a sense of urgency to take on Mr. Trump: “We cannot wait until the summer, the fall to mobilize our folks.”

Organizers and supporters of the effort hope it will have staying power at a time when many social justice groups and grass-roots organizers have warned of diminished energy and resources behind their work entering this election.

“No matter who the president is, America is still in a mess and going to be a mess,” Mr. Bell said. “The way we get out of this mess is by supporting Black and brown grass-roots activists.”



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