Donald Trump wants you to think that the small anti-quarantine protests that took place this weekend in various state capitols were spontaneous grassroots events, but they were anything but.
First of all, Trump’s tweets in support of these protests were all aimed at states with Democratic governors, and ignored Republican governors who also issued stay-at-home orders. So clearly political. And never mind that Trump was inciting people to break laws and guidelines that he himself had endorsed just a couple of days beforehand.
Secondly, the Facebook traffic that coordinated these protests was organized by Ben Dorr (along with his two brothers), who is the political director of Minnesota Gun Rights. And the protests themselves were organized by pro-Trump activists (including some who are surrogates for Trump’s campaign, or are prominent conservative donors.
In fact, the state with the largest and most vehement protests was Michigan, which were organized by Michigan Conservative Coalition, which was founded by a Republican state lawmaker whose wife sits on the advisory board for Trump’s campaign. Also promoting the demonstrations was the Michigan Freedom Fund, which is funded in large part by the DeVos family. Betsy DeVos is Trump’s education secretary, and her husband ran unsuccessfully for governor of Michigan in 2006.
The online activity (mostly on Facebook) was created (and paid for) in order to make it look like opposition to sheltering-in-place is popular and widespread. But this is fake news. Even among Republicans, close to 70% are in favor of a national stay-at-home order. And needless to say, 95% of Democrats are in favor.
So the number of people who demand that the governors “give them liberty or give them death (or both)” is quite small and is being egged on by conservative political activists.
UPDATE: After I wrote this, I found a post from Heather Cox Richardson on the same subject. Definitely worth a read.