Hillary Needs To Slay The Bully
Everybody dreams of standing up to The Bully.
The Bully comes in all forms. They’re the kid on the playground, stuffing your face in the sandbox. They’re the “friend” at the party, blithely commenting on your inability to fit in. They’re the boss “joking” about your weight and incompetence.
Or maybe they’re more subtle than that. Maybe The Bully greets you with a smile on their face and an arm around your shoulder, manipulating you into thinking they have your best interest at heart, when in reality they intend on using you for their own benefit.
Or maybe they don’t even bully you at all. Maybe this Bully targets the most vulnerable, those least likely to stand up for themselves, and relies on the compliance and cowardice of others to continue their reign of terror.
At some point, we all encounter The Bully. We all fantasize about giving them a piece of our mind, of standing up for ourselves or for others, of speaking righteousness and humanity and banishing The Bully from our midst. We’re gonna do it, we say. We’re gonna be the hero, we say. Tomorrow, we say.
But tomorrow rarely comes. Whether it’s out of fear, self-preservation, or just plain laziness, humans don’t often follow through on the pledges they make to actively repudiate The Bully. Sure, they’ll discuss it with friends and colleagues, have a good laugh at The Bully’s expense behind their back, but rarely do we actually do something about them.
Donald Trump, in all senses of the word, is The Bully. Peak Bully, if you will. He uses and humiliates people. He resorts to schoolyard taunts when somebody displeases them. He picks at other people’s emotional scabs and deliberately tries to verbally assault them where he knows it’ll cause the greatest anguish. He attempts to gaslight the public into disbelieving their own eyes and ears and knowledge of history.
His racism, his misogyny, his outright meanness, it all comes from his need to dominate the world into his own vision of what it ought to be. Any perceived threat to his image of strength is met with a vicious and disproportionate counterpunch that’s intended to prove who the tough guy really is. He attempts to balm the existential pain in his heart by inflicting it on others.
I’m not the first person to point any of this out. The case has been made a number of times on all sorts of different platforms. Yes, calling him “Drumpf” is nice and it is cathartic. Laying out all the moments that would’ve been instantly disqualifying to any other political candidate is important. But clearly it hasn’t been enough.
Enter Hillary Clinton. She has a chance to do what the rest of America has only dreamed about: Tell Donald what’s what to his face. She must take this opportunity. We all have been bullied by him. Now we need Hillary to stand up not just for herself, but for all of us.
Tonight’s debate is perhaps the most highly anticipated political spectacle in modern American history. Television ratings are expected to reach near-Super Bowl levels. This will in all likelihood be the largest audience either candidate has before Election Day.
There will be no greater chance for Hillary to make the case for American humanity, gentleness, and kindness. With the world watching, she needs to show that Trumpism is not who we are.
In short, we need her to be our champion. She needs to represent the best of what we as Americans aspire to be. We need her to demonstrate that she gives a shit, that the damage that A Donald has inflicted upon the nation wounds her on a personal, visceral level. He has tried, often successfully, to pick at the country’s angsts and anxieties and play them like a Nintendo. She needs to show that this isn’t a fucking game.
There has been an enormous amount of speculation over which Donald is going to show up to Hofstra tonight. Will it be the bawdy, belligerent monstrosity we saw hurling vulgarities at his enemies from the stump over the past 15 months? Or will it be the reserved, subdued, pseudo-competent robotron we’ve seen in drips and drabs over the past few months?
If I had to guess, I believe it’ll be closer to the former than to the latter. Think of it this way: At the very least, Donald is astute enough to know that if this becomes a policy fight, he cannot possibly beat her. He simply is not equipped. He’ll have to drag it down into the gutter to have a chance. The only way he can impose his dominance is by being the person who got him to this point. He’ll have to be The Bully.
That being said, Hillary must be prepared for all possible Donalds. She can’t lose sight of who this guy is, has been, and will be if allowed to get his tiny little baby hands on the nuclear codes. She must set her strategy and execute it well.
I don’t mean to make it sound easy. Hillary Clinton has a difficult task ahead of her. She has to stand up to The Bully while demonstrating a brighter path for the nation. She has to challenge his assertions without making the entire 90-minute affair about him. She has to cut him down to size while elevating herself out of the muck.
But this isn’t just about winning a debate or an election. After all of this is over, somebody has to be President. If current trends hold, it will be her. She needs to show the country that she’s in this for all of us. I believe she is, as do millions of other Americans, but many are still skeptical. It is mostly an unfair skepticism, rooted in sexism and right wing fever dreams, but it exists. By slaying The Bully, by outlining an inclusive vision that has no room for The Bully’s ideology, she can begin to earn the trust of everyday people.
This is the job. This is what she has to do. I believe in her, but anything is possible.
Dear God I hope she does it. The fate of the world literally depends on it.