Vengeance? No. Consequences? Yes. How to handle the post-Trump era
Much has been written about the art, ethics and prudence of revenge.
In addition to being a dish best served cold, allegedly, the Bible is prolific on the matter, though not always consistent. God himself seems rather vengeful at times — hello, the 10 plagues? — while Matthew says to turn the other cheek.
Around 1754 B.C., Hammurabi codified the “eye for an eye” approach, and in 1844 A.D., Edmond Dantes learned in “The Count of Monte Cristo” that a life devoted to revenge was ultimately unsatisfying.
But, like most things, it’s possible Jerry Seinfeld put it best. In a season two episode aptly titled “The Revenge,” Seinfeld tells George Costanza, “The best revenge is living well.” To which George dismissively scoffs, “There’s no chance of that.”
The topic of revenge now swirls in the political ether in the wake of Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump. After four-plus years of Trump’s selfish, destructive, dangerous and vindictive “leadership,” there’s a strong desire to make not only him but his supporters pay.
One healthy way to see it is that America already did just that: The election was the revenge mechanism and Trump and his voters will now suffer the consequences that come with it.
Others say that simply isn’t good enough. Trump and his people, they insist, have to suffer.
There is talk of enemies lists, historically a bad idea and one that liberals rightly maligned Trump for embracing. Something called the Trump Accountability Project has emerged, promising to economically punish people who worked on Trump’s campaign, those who worked in his federal government and those who helped fund him.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez clumsily imagined an “archive,” a slightly more scholarly word for “list,” of “Trump sycophants,” for whom the punishment is presumably some sort of social cancellation. If we’ve learned anything from the past decade it’s that cancel culture is corrosive and cannibalizing and something even prominent liberals, like Barack Obama, are increasingly warning against.
Others on Twitter are just happy to turn the MAGA schadenfreude of the Trump administration back on them — meeting four years of “owning the libs” with drinking “MAGA tears.”