By J.D. Munch
If anyone ever believed Donald Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp,” they should not believe it anymore. Trump himself admitted that he only used it as a sound byte that people seemed to like, and with each wildly unqualified billionaire cabinet nominee, he has made increasingly clear that the swamp is flooding Washington, D.C. more than ever before. The resistance movement may have known this would be the case, but many more are coming to understand the level at which they have been duped.
If we look back at the steps that led here, this should not surprise anyone. Trump ran a campaign on a platform composed not only of bigotry and misogyny, but also on promises to favor businesses over consumers in every conceivable way. His Executive Order to eliminate two regulations for every new one enacted served notice, as did his nomination of individuals opposed to the missions of the departments they will oversee, that the world of Trump belongs to business owners and executives—and everyday citizens and our water and air are welcome to fend for themselves.
In its infamous Citizens United decision, the United States Supreme Court gave companies and individuals the right to essentially give unlimited contributions to political campaigns through SuperPACs. It framed the issue as one of First Amendment speech, equating political donations with speech acts. But what many fail to fully understand is that speech is not, and has never been, completely free. The Government may not retaliate against you or create laws that abridge that right, but private citizens may respond to speech acts as they like.
And here, we reach the point where the resistance can make an impact. Just as the speech that corporate giants and billionaires can make comes from their pocketbooks, so the speech they understand comes from ours. After Trump’s top donors spoke with their money, those of us ready to resist Trump can tell where we stand through the way we spend ours. When we spread the word and take away our financial support for those who worked to elect this man, we can combine to make an impact and send a message.
1. Sheldon Adelson
Sheldon Adelson had contributed $47.4 million to Trump as of November 14, more than any other individual. He is the CEO and Chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corporation, and more importantly for these purposes, has made no bones during recent elections about his desire to buy the White House for Republicans. After holding back for much of the campaign, Adelson went all-in once Trump emerged from the field. For the Trump resistance effort, Adelson represents the heaviest hitter among those supporting the president. Boycotting his casino and any other business interests may barely dent his fortune, but can make a collective statement about his role in getting this odious human elected.
2. Robert Mercer
As of November 14, Robert Mercer had donated $23.5 million to Donald Trump’s campaign. Mercer also serves as one of the top contributors to Breitbart, so his money has a direct tie to some of the lies and conspiracy theories that have caused so much damage to reporting of facts themselves. Mercer is CEO of a hedge fund called Renaissance Technologies, so the resistance should spread the word that money should not flow to that fund or any of Mercer’s other business interests.
3. Linda McMahon
Linda McMahon contributed $7.5 million to Trump’s campaign, and earned a cabinet position atop the Small Business Administration as a reward. After she spent $100 million on her own failed attempts to win U.S. Senate seats in Connecticut, this gave her a shortcut in her chase for political influence and power. McMahon is best known for her role as former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, so perhaps her blunt force approach to politics should not be surprising. Her family fortune is still tied to the professional wrestling world; efforts to resist Trump should include a boycott of WWE events and patronage, and a boycott of its leading sponsors as well.
4. Bernard Marcus
Bernard Marcus is the co-founder and former CEO of Home Depot. He contributed $7 million to Trump’s campaign through at least two different Super PACs. While he does not currently hold a position with Home Depot, his fortune undoubtedly maintains a connection with the company he helped build. The resistance effort can and should push to avoid giving business to Marcus’ company and direct those dollars to competitors in the market. A large-scale boycott can dent the stock price and help make a statement that his efforts to help elect Trump are recognized, and that we stand together ready to respond.
5. Andy Beal
Andy Beal is a billionaire banker in Dallas, Texas, who has a role in helping shape Trump’s economic policies as part of the President’s economic adviser council. He paid handsomely for the opportunity, contributing $4 million to Trump’s campaign. Given Beal’s propensity for developing tax dodge strategies, it probably should not surprise any trying to resist Trump that he pushed money into Trump’s corner. In fact, Beal seems to have convinced himself that Trump’s racism, sexism, and fear-mongering are just figments of our imagination. Beal’s company, Beal Financial Corp., serves as a ripe source for a resistance boycott. Send a message that the willful ignoring of Trump’s worst impulses and qualities cannot stand.
6. Geoffrey Palmer
Geoffrey Palmer owns G.H. Palmer Associates, a real estate company known for building gauche housing and going to court to fight regulations that once required affordable housing to be included in all new developments. Given the similarities to the Trump bulldozer approach to business, it is little wonder that Palmer donated $2 million to the campaign. This is a man who fights against regulatory requirements designed to help people, and he helped elect a man who wants to eliminate as many such regulations across the board as possible—all to help further line the pockets of his fellow billionaires. The resistance would do well to send a message by boycotting any of Palmer’s developments and encouraging others to take up the fight.
7. Ronald Cameron
Ronald Cameron focuses much of his giving on churches and religious charities, particularly through his $26 million contributions to his Jesus Fund. After supporting Mike Huckabee with $3 million, he donated $2 million to Trump’s campaign. Like many evangelicals, Cameron fixed on Trump as the last Republican standing, despite Trump’s decidedly hypocritical relationship with Christianity, falsely aligning religion with the party that most pushes not to help those who need it. Cameron’s poultry company, Mountaire Corp., provides the source of his fortune. Resisting Trump through boycott should include a determination not to give any financial support to Cameron’s business empire.
8. Betsy DeVos
Yes, her. Betsy DeVos and her family contributed $1.8 million to Trump’s campaign. As part of the return on her investment, DeVos is now the Secretary of Education, and probably the least-qualified person to ever serve in that position. While joking about her valiant efforts to help defend schools against bear attacks can be fun, she is in position to do serious damage to public education in our country. Trump resistance efforts can focus on her family’s Amway fortune, boycotting the company and its products.
9. Joe and Todd Ricketts
Joe Ricketts is the founder of TD Ameritrade. His son, Todd, is a co-owner of the Chicago Cubs—and thanks to the combined $1.3 million donation the family gave to Trump’s campaign, is now Deputy Secretary of Commerce as well. Trump’s swamp-draining efforts continue to stand out. Boycotting TD Ameritrade can help let the Ricketts family know what the resistance thinks of their purchasing of influence through getting the worst man ever elected President into office.
10. Peter Thiel
Peter Thiel is a venture capitalist at Mithril Capital Management and the head of a data mining company called Palantir. He donated $1.25 million to Trump’s campaign, and has helped elevate several of his business associates for consideration as senior members of the Trump administration. Thiel’s support stems from his desire to cut regulations on experimentation and drug and technology approval processes, potentially endangering lives for the sake of easier business processes and quicker profits. Thiel, like several other big donors, uses his money to gain access to power and boost his own bottom line. The resistance would do well to speak out and to avoid contributing to Thiel’s businesses.
The likelihood of sending any of these individuals to the poorhouse through boycotting efforts is minimal at best. The goal of these efforts is not to bankrupt anyone. Rather, we should focus on the messaging, the reasons we are doing this, the reasons we are fighting in the face of an onslaught of Republican victories and subsequent attacks on basic human dignity. The election may be the culmination of years of Republican lies and attacks, but it does not end our country. Resisting Trump matters because we face a choice: shrink from the horror or rise from the ashes. Take a stand, and pick our country back up.