To The Land of The Brave,
I used to joke that I only learned one thing in four years studying politics at university: Don’t talk politics with anyone, under any circumstances.
After I graduated, that joke quickly became one of my strictest rules. I generally don’t engage in political discourse on any level with any person. But for you, America, I’ll make this one exception.
Look, as a northern brother, I get it. I really do. Having a racist megalomaniac running for president is never ideal. Having that would-be tyrant promising to commit a laundry list of war crimes if he gets into power makes it worse. Seeing that candidate gain momentum and support anywhere in the world (other than North Korea) is both shocking and depressing.
I can definitely sympathize with the people who have already hit the panic button, but I don’t share in their quickly spreading fear that America is becoming the fourth Reich. The power is still in the hands of a collective people who, other than a minority of droogs lost souls, will continue to be the champions of reason and light in the face of a growing darkness in this world.
It is difficult to watch, however, those who claim they are strongly against Trump continuing to be his greatest source of power.
When Hercules faced the Hydra, he quickly noticed that every time he cut off a head, three would grow in its place. You shouldn’t be making the same mistake as Hercules, because one Trump head is terrifying enough. There simply isn’t enough road kill in existence to maintain that many terrible hairpieces. Yet everywhere I look, people are cutting off Trump heads, making the fascist Hydra more powerful with every swing of their sword.
I understand it was well intentioned, but when anti-Trump protesters shut down a Trump rally in Chicago, that was a victory for Trump. Freedom of speech and expression are foundational pillars of the democratic values that anti-Trumpers are claiming to be defending. When you limit someone’s free speech – no matter how borderline insane his or her speech may be – you limit our own. Free speech will be your greatest weapon against Trump’s antics, and yet by shutting down his rally you’ve legitimized the strong-armed repression of that freedom. It’s now fair game for Trump supporters to respond in kind.
The problem is, you’re treating Donald Trump like he’s a bully.
Like we were all taught as school children, you believe the best course of action is to approach that bully and punch him in his squishy, piggish face.
You’ll shut down his rallies. You’ll quote him in your tweets and add a snarky comment that berates him. You’ll splash his comical face on every form of social media. You’ll dedicate your time and energy writing articles or blogs (much like I’m doing now) pointing out the inconsistencies in his campaign promises or the similarities between him and Hitler. You’ll keep throwing punches until the bully backs down. Swing for the fences.
If Trump was a bully, those punches in the nose would probably be just what the doctor ordered.
But Donald Trump is not the bully of the American political school yard. He’s the class clown. It may seem like a subtle difference, but a bully and a clown get their power from two very different places. A bully takes his power from preying on weakness.
And where does the class clown get his power from? From being given other people’s attention. Your attention.
The class clown starts out innocently enough. First he puts his hand up with a smirk on his face. The teacher, knowing this particular student’s need for constant attention, sighs before reluctantly asking “Yes Donald?” Donald makes a fart noise with his hands. The other boys laugh, the girls say “Ewwwww gross!” Donald violently nods his head in approval of himself. His hair piece nearly falls off.
Best day ever.
But the laughter and the attention is fleeting – attention that Donald is desperate to keep his short-fingered hands on.
He knows just the thing that can get it back. An old classic that never fails.
Slowly sneaking his hand up his shirt, he breaks the silence in the classroom by making fart noises by flapping his arm with his hand in his armpit. A few of the boys laugh. The girls ignore him. A poor result, indeed. Even Donald knows he has nothing to nod approvingly about. His hairpiece is safe…..for now.
The class clown feels desperation. It’s time to turn up the volume. He knows no one really takes him seriously, because he doesn’t even take himself seriously. So, he turns his jokes outwards. He looks at the student landscape very carefully when choosing his victim. Being a coward, he wants easy prey.
He starts by making fun of the one red head in the class. Not much of a thinker, Donald says “Hey ginger, nice red hair!” A few of the less
intelligent kind boys in the class are excited. They actually get the joke. They smile and say something along the lines of “Ha! He DOES have red hair!” They laugh along with Donald and ask him to hang out next recess.
That was easy. Now Donald has attention, AND support. His hair piece is once again in danger from his incessant nodding.
Recess comes, and Donald is approached by the red head’s best friend. Let’s call him Bernie. Bernie heard about Donald’s words and wants to chuck the mitts. Donald threatens to sue. His dad is rich, you know. Other kids take notice that Bernie’s anger didn’t phase Donald. It starts to create an illusion that the clown has real strength rather than empty words. Donald goes back to class feeling even better about himself. Sure, Bernie’s attention was negative and threatening, but in the game of buffoonery, attention is king.
Unfortunately, picking on the red head stops getting laughs, even from his most loyal goons supporters. So he moves onto other carefully selected victims. He tells the class the child of Asian descent and her family invented global warming. He spreads rumours that the Mexican student in the class is both a rapist and murderer – and then suggests to the other students that a wall should be built around that student’s desk to keep them all safe. He convinces a few kids it might be funny if they didn’t allow the Muslim student come to the class the next morning, or to stick one of the teacher’s gold star stickers on him.
With each passing day he gains a few more followers and, more importantly, more people trying to fight him at recess. Sure, everyone is talking badly about him – but they ARE talking about him. He’s quickly gone from low grade jester to king of the court. Love him or – as many of the students do – hate him, he’s become the most popular kid in school from the endless attention he’s receiving. His hairpiece is hanging on for dear life in the maelstrom of negative backlash he’s bathing his wrinkled body in.
There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” – Oscar Wilde
All of a sudden, Donald’s absurd words have power. All the attention people are giving him somehow validates the garbage that’s falling out of the hole in his head. People feel increasingly pressured to choose a side. Those who aren’t in his class or don’t understand the magnitude of his hateful words see him as the better choice. After all, look at all these punks trying to fight him at recess but he’s not even bothered by it. He just keeps doing his thing – importing wives from Eastern Europe, tweeting about Rosie, and telling people his daddy has a big swimming pool. In a strange way the clown is almost powerful in his nonchalance.
There’s still hope for you, America. There’s still time. For the strength of a clown is also his weakness. Attention can disappear as quickly as it fills up a newsfeed.
If you’re anti-Trump, stop being the main source of his power. Stop following him on twitter. Let the people at his rallies burn crosses or whatever it is that they do. Let him talk of walls and rapists and how impressive he is for inheriting his daddy’s money. He’s not going to win an election with his economic intelligence, his speaking ability, or his progressive sociopolitical ideas, because he doesn’t possess those things. He’s going to win an election with the power you’re giving him. The power of your attention.
Leave the little boy to his fart jokes.
Or may God have mercy on the red head kid in the class.
Be good to each other,
Featured Image: http://www.thedailybeast.com
Hercules and the Hydra: Pinterest
Trump as The Joker: I actually have no idea where I got this, I found it saved in my phone. If you own this image I apologise.