A dystopia is an imagined place, and the latest Lincoln Project ad, released Sunday night, rolls out like the trailer for a film about such a dark state. But, of course, Portland, Oregon, is a very real place, and the ad is based on a very real story unfurling right now, rendered in black and white and red with a pulp-noir sensibility.
"This is how it starts: A president out of control as polls forecast his downfall," the narrator begins over an image of President Trump and a typically bad poll. "This is how it starts: In a small city far from the Beltway, shadowy men — no badges, no ID, deputized by a rogue attorney general — snatch so-called 'enemies of the state' off the streets. This is how it starts: Without a warning or a warrant, heavily armed paramilitary units shove their targets into unmarked vans and race away."
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf gets a cameo, too, and the ad makes clear the federal incursion into Portland is designed for a national rollout: "Faceless enforcers say you don't have the right to protest. Now Trump's bureaucrats are promising to send their their thugs everywhere — your town, your neighborhood. This is how it starts, and how freedom dies — unless we stand up, unless we speak out, unless we demand justice."
Is the ad a little over-the-top? Maybe.
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