Saturday, March 19, 2016

Watching the Watchers: Trump is a Bully

I'm a stereotypical nerd who grew up in the 80s, and I was at times bullied. One particular kid stands out in my memory because he was at it for years. At one point he gathered a literal mob lead by a football player who was two years ahead of us by telling the player I had insulted him. Until the day I die, I will never forget the glee I saw on his face in that moment, standing behind the mob and leaning to his left to get a good view of my discomfort.

Trump, to me, reads exactly the same as that boy, and similar to others of his ilk I have encountered. That is why I am not going to be neutral or indifferent about his run for President. While there is still a slim chance that the Republican party can pull some parliamentary tricks to prevent it, right now Trump is their presumptive nominee. Many people can't understand that, but once you see the middle school bully, the pattern holds pretty well.

The abuse of reporters and protesters (and the follow-on denials). The petty and puerile attacks on his opponents. The central importance of ego ("I've never lost a lawsuit."). It's all there. And other folks see it too, though they may cast it into a different light.

According to Politifact, fully half of Trump's statements are flat false. He's lying at a shocking rate even by politician standards. But it doesn't matter. As Nicole Hemmer points out for USNews, "They brought facts to an ego fight, and found them to be worthless weapons." She invokes Gaslighting, which is a type of psychological abuse. The pattern really does seem to fit. And later this fall we will see whether an entire nation will fall for it.

I would love to speculate on why. Did the Republican hate-rhetoric against Obama cause their party's downfall because they were seen as failures? Is it pent-up Racism (again, "thanks Obama"). Is Trump just that much of a "master persuader" as Dilbert creator Scott Adams refers to him? (Adams also refers to him as a con-man in that post, lest I be accused of picking and choosing quotes.) But in the end it doesn't really matter. There are only two ways to deal with a bully. You remove yourself from anywhere you might come in contact with them, or you beat them soundly enough that you no longer seem like an easy target.

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