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Earlier in the week, Atlantic writer Ann Applebaum joined me again on my SiriusXM program.
Applebaum, currently living in Poland, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and historian who has studied both communism and far-right authoritarian movements. Her most recent book is Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism.
In Washington recently, she interviewed Mike Lindell over lunch, the CEO of MyPillow, ardent supporter of Donald Trump, and avid conspiracy promoter. He’s laughed at by many of us, seen as a buffoon, but Applebaum strongly warns against dismissing him.
Lindell is currently being sued by Dominion Voting Systems for promoting the part of the Big Lie that claimed voting machines switched votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden.
But he’s so deluded, and so rich, that he doesn’t care how much money he may lose, and is still promoting further conspiracies and is followed by millions of Trump supporters.
Applebaum believes that with his resources and access to the vast networks of right-wing media, and with a grip on the Trump base, he and his newest conspiracy, which involves China stealing the election, are a danger to democracy. She compares him to other wealthy individuals of the past who had profound influence on authoritarian leaders:
Think of Olof Aschberg, the Swedish banker who helped finance the Bolshevik revolution, allegedly melting down the bars of gold that Lenin’s comrades stole in train robberies and reselling them, unmarked, on European exchanges. Or Henry Ford, whose infamous anti-Semitic tract, The International Jew, was widely read in Nazi Germany, including by Hitler himself. Plenty of successful, wealthy people think that their knowledge of production technology or private equity gives them clairvoyant insight into politics.
We talked about Lindell’s background, and the current conspiracy he’s promoting, and lots more. Listen in and let me know your thoughts.