Republicans in South Carolina have launched “Operation Chaos 2020” and other grassroots efforts by urging fellow Trump supporters to switch sides and vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the South Carolina primaries so that he would clinch the presidential nomination. Obviously, this has been motivated by the fact that a Sanders candidacy would cause a serious divide in the Democratic Party that would likely benefit President Trump’s reelection.
“We are calling for specifically for Republicans and Trump supporters all across South Carolina to turn out and vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary on Saturday,” Stephen Brown of Operation Chaos 2020 said, as reported by WYFF.
Videos of Trump supporters encouraging other fellow travelers to vote for Bernie in the coming primary have since been circulating all over social media, such as this one from the group “Trump 2-29”:
A Trump-Sanders smoking gun.
South Carolina Trump activists in a much-promoted Facebook video: "We're asking South Carolina Republicans to show their support for President Trump by crossing over and voting in the Democratic primary for Senator Bernie Sanders." pic.twitter.com/FNqEUNXDWq
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) February 26, 2020
“I’m a Republican & Trump supporter… we have an operation chaos going on & all over the state we’re encouraging Republicans to vote for Bernie because we believe Bernie is the best worst candidate in contrasting his socialism against Trump and his capitalism.” #RidinWithBiden pic.twitter.com/wV7PyafIQj
— Bryan Dawson (@BryanDawsonUSA) February 26, 2020
When pressed if Operation Chaos could potentially backfire by making Bernie Sanders president in November, Brown said he is confident that America will “reject socialism.”
“I believe that our nation will reject socialism – I can’t say there’s no risk, any time you have an election there’s a risk – but I think we’ll have an overwhelming and resounding victory for President Trump,” said Brown. “And if we can’t defeat a socialist here in 2020, we wouldn’t deserve the freedoms that we have. I’m confident that Donald Trump will prevail.”
Brown added that the Democratic establishment clearly does not want Bernie to win the nomination and that they will split their party in an effort to keep him down.
“We see things happening behind the scenes to help undo Bernie’s nomination, so we as Republicans think that there’s a very reasonable chance that Democrats might deny the nomination to Bernie Sanders,” he continued, “and if they were to do that, we believe it would enrage the Left, cause the Democratic Party to split, and only help Donald Trump in his reelection because I want to be clear, all of us are fully supporting Donald Trump in his reelection. We’re excited about that. We can’t wait to vote for Donald Trump in November.”
Though Greenville County’s GOP chair said that the party considered a cross-voting push, they are ultimately not involved in either Operation Chaos 2020 or Trump 2-29.
“The Republican Party is not encouraging voters to cross-party vote,” said Nate Leupp, chairman of the Greenville County Republican Party. “We understand some of our affiliates and members and friends are, and we understand the logic behind it. But from a party standpoint, we feel that that push is best left to the activists like the Trump 2-29 organization.”
In response, Greenville County Democratic Party accused the groups of voter interference and undermining the electoral process.
“In calling for voters to select a specific candidate for the purpose of disrupting Saturday’s primary, Operation Chaos 2020 is engaging in interference in a free and fair election,” said Kate Franch, chair of the Greenville County Democratic Party. “They are undermining and dishonoring the very right to franchise that they claim to want to protect.”
“Elections are not games,” Franch continued. “Democrats believe in the right to directly choose our representatives and welcome any voter to participate in the democratic process we champion. Every voter should carefully select the candidate who most closely reflects his or her values with the knowledge that that candidate can ultimately win the seat. Your vote is your voice – it should not be wasted or debased.”
Jessica Bright, the Sanders’ campaign state director in South Carolina, did not specifically condemn either movement while asserting that the socialist senator from Vermont is the best candidate to beat Trump.
“Recent reports have made it clear that Donald Trump and the Republican establishment have always been afraid to run against Bernie Sanders going back to 2016 and this is more of the same,” said Bright. “The truth is that Sen. Sanders consistently beats Trump in general election matchup polls in battleground states. He’s the only candidate with more individual donations than Trump and the only candidate with the network of grassroots volunteers it takes to win in November.”