Comedian Rob Delaney (creator of the Amazon series Catastrophe) wants to help Donald Trump punish Republicans who un-endorse their Presidential candidate.
But let's back up to almost a week ago: an eon, in terms of this election cycle. On October 7, 2016, which will henceforth be known as Access Hollywood Day, the world watched as now-Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump, in what he thought was a private moment, bragged about sexually assaulting women to TV host Billy Bush. You may have read one or two things about this on the internet.
What happened next – and what continues to happen – is that a stream of Republican lawmakers are dropping their endorsements of their Presidential candidate. We are seeing, in real time, a cleaving in two of the Grand Old Party. Of those fleeing, some are, possibly, truly appalled, and others think voters will require them to be appalled. Of those staying with Trump, some truly still support the candidate, and some likely fear they will lose their base if they repudiate him.
Delaney has been watching this development with growing anger. When we spoke on the phone (he's currently in London, where he shoots Catastrophe), he told me that his first thought was, "Are you kidding me? THAT'S what it took? Spare me." And then, almost immediately: "You need to be punished.'"
Delaney's point is that we already knew who Trump was, and the time has long since passed to credibly disavow him on moral grounds. Well before Access Hollywood Day, Trump shared his hostility toward women, Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, Muslims, Muslim-Americans, people with disabilities, other candidates, the press, veterans suffering from PTSD, a Gold Star military family, Iowans, overweight people, Rosie O'Donnell, and Prisoners of War. Before October 7, Trump had already bragged about the size of his genitals; commented on a reporter's menstrual cycle; retweeted white supremacists; refused to condemn David Duke, and…well, you get it, and I have a word count to consider.
The political calculus and self-preservation at work in these un-endorsements has "operated on me more deeply than anything in any political campaign I've ever seen," Delaney explained in a recent Tumblr post titled "No Getting Off the Train." There, Delaney declared that the only reason Republicans are leaving Trump, in a post-October-7 world, is that "it finally became clear to anyone who knows how elections work that Trump was definitely going to lose."
Delaney has unvarnished language for these defectors. "Turd balls," for example. People who "pretend they care about women or something." "Spineless shit loaves." "The real garbage, the people who want it both ways." (Delaney, for the record, has long spoken up for women's rights. But his self-avowed "blue-collar feminism" is "not because I was born from a woman, or am married to one, or have a sister," he told me. "I'm just a human who lives on earth.")
The Access Hollywood video was the final straw for many Republican lawmakers, but those lawmakers' reactions to the video, in turn, produced the final straw for Delaney.
So he made a decision: "I want to harm the people who've angered me. In a fun way!" That harm is coming in the most American political form possible: money. Delaney worked with ActBlue to set up "#TerrificPAC," the sole goal of which is to get money to candidates who are "challenging Republicans who unendorsed Trump on or after October 7, 2016." Money donated via the site will be shared equally among eligible candidates.
The perfect irony in Delaney's campaign is that his message, on its face, dovetails nicely with the theme of retribution that Trump has engaged in since the defections began.
Delaney, for his part, is motivated by making sure that these defectors are "welded to Trump until the end…you're on the train till it crashes into the American Electorate at full speed."
Those who show consistency by sticking with Trump are safe from Delaney's fundraising efforts. But Delaney reserves special wrath for the politicians who have un-endorsed and then re-endorsed Trump (because why not; 2016 is insane):
With more defections happening all the time, Delaney is making sure the newly minted former Trump supporters know they've entered his crosshairs.
In addition to funding electoral punishment for hypocrisy, Delaney hopes his effort will get voters engaged in down-ballot races. "It's a shame how much laser-like attention is focused on the presidential election," Delaney told me, "because the down-ballot races are where you can have real impact."
Delaney told me his fundraising goal was 1,000 individual donors. As of this writing, the fund had 1,028 donors and totaled more than $59,000. He doesn't have a specific dollar goal, but he says he's pleased with how many people are sending him screenshots of their $69 donations.