Multiple anti-Trump activists and commentators are signaling a coming broad-based effort to carry out punishment and retribution against Trump supporters and associates for what the activists claim are the irreparable harms that Trump’s political movement has wrought upon the United States.
Major media outlets last week declared Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 election. Donald Trump has in response lodged multiple legal complaints and recount requests in battleground states that Biden is projected to have won by razor-thin margins.
In the meantime, numerous anti-Trump activists have been threatening to ostracize and economically punish individuals who have been associated with Trump’s political career since 2016.
Among the more prominent figures avowing such an intent is New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who last week suggested keeping an archive of the internet posts of Trump supporters for some undefined future purpose.
“Is anyone archiving these Trump sycophants for when they try to downplay or deny their complicity in the future?” she tweeted. “I foresee decent probability of many deleted Tweets, writings, photos in the future”. In a subsequent tweet she cryptically alluded to holding Trump supporters “responsible for their behavior over [the] last four years.”
Shortly after the election, Evan McMullin — a former CIA officer who ran as a spoiler candidate against Trump in 2016 — offered a similar proposition, suggesting that those involved in Trump’s legal efforts to investigate and challenge voting irregularities in the 2020 election should be effectively blacklisted.
“We should keep and publish a list of everyone who assists Trump’s frivolous and dangerous attacks on the election,” he said. “Name and shame forever.”
‘We have a list’
McMullin’s suggestion of a perpetual shaming campaign against Trump supporters was not unique. Jennifer Rubin, a prominent NeverTrump commentator and columnist at the Washington Post, echoed that sentiment on Twitter a few days after the election.
“Any [Republican] now promoting rejection of an election or calling to not to follow the will of voters or making baseless allegations of fraud,” she wrote, “should never serve in office, join a corporate board, find a faculty position or be accepted into ‘polite’ society. We have a list.”
Rubin herself did not provide an example of that alleged “list.” But one newly created group, the Trump Accountability Project, appears to be the most organized effort to date to institute punishments for Trump associates following the presumptive end of Trump’s first term in office.
The group, which last week was promoted on Twitter by former Democratic National Committee Press Secretary Hari Sevugan, seeks to stigmatize “those who took a paycheck from the Trump Administration,” who the initiative argues “should not profit from their efforts to tear our democracy apart.”
Among the individuals the group seeks to target: Trump campaign workers, Republican National Committee staffers, individuals with “affiliated organizations,” Trump political appointees, and major Trump donors and bundlers.
Just what the intended retribution will look like is unclear. The Trump Accountability Project did not respond to a query seeking more information on how it intends to promote and encourage the comeuppance of Trump associates. Nor did Rep. Ocasio-Cortez or many of the other individuals who have expressed similar desires.
Among those is former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who said in October that, following the eventual conclusion of the Trump administration, the U.S. should develop a “a Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” a political body often established in war-torn countries after major human rights violations have transpired.
Such a commission in the U.S. would “erase Trump’s lies, comfort those who have been harmed by his hatefulness, and name every official, politician, executive, and media mogul whose greed and cowardice enabled this catastrophe,” Reich said.
Calls for such a commission have been echoed by numerous others, including Lincoln Project co-founder Steve Schmidt and former actress Quinn Cummings. Schmidt, a strategist on John McCain’s failed 2008 presidential campaign, had particularly pointed things to say about individuals such as attorneys he said were participating in Trump’s alleged attacks on American democracy over the last week.
“All of these people are complicit in the assault against American democracy,” he said. “None of them should ever be forgiven. All of them should pay a brutal price for betraying the American ideal.”
The Lincoln Project itself this week launched a campaign to harass the law firms representing Trump in his election-related lawsuits. The group on Tuesday urged its followers on Twitter to create LinkedIn accounts, message lawyers working for those firms, and “ask them how they can work for an organization trying to overturn the will of the American people.”
The group shortly thereafter began retweeting screenshots of messages its followers sent to those firms. The Lincoln Project, a NeverTrump political action committee specializing in negative ads, also strongly implied it would be taking the fight even further than that. One of the group’s followers advised them on Twitter to “go after [the firms’] clients. Hit them in the billings.”
“Oh, we’re on it,” the Lincoln Project replied.