Douglass Mackey is alleged to be one of the many anonymous Twitter users who made the 2016 election so different, so memorable, and so important.
Like other anonymous internet memesmiths (anons), Mackey had no external reason that anyone should care what he said. He held no office. He had no byline at an elite publication. He had no vast pool of wealth that conferred legitimacy, deserved or undeserved, on what he had to say.
Mackey’s notability, like that of Bronze Age Pervert or Libs of TikTok, came exclusively from what he had to say, and that people found it funny and compelling. Over the summer and fall of 2016, Mackey allegedly went by the nom-de-tweet Ricky Vaughn (after Charlie Sheen’s character in Major League) and collected tens of thousands of followers who found him funny and compelling. Mackey was not single-handedly responsible for getting Donald Trump elected. But the work he allegedly did along with dozens of others is what made Trump’s victory possible. An MIT analysis estimated that Ricky Vaughn was a bigger influence on the 2016 election than NBC News.
But for the regime, the specter of anonymous individuals making the system tremble was too much. And so, for more than two years, the regime has been battling to send Mackey to prison.
You might not know much about Mackey’s case. It’s far less notorious than the January 6 prosecutions, or the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse. But in terms of how much the speech matters for American liberty, it is as important as either of those — perhaps more so.
In January 2021, shortly after the January 6 incident inaugurated a national anti-MAGA crackdown, the Department of Justice charged Mackey with “conspiring … to deprive individuals of their constitutional right to vote.”
Mackey’s offense? Illegal memes.