Treat Trump like the bigoted preacher on the quad
There’s a Westboro-esque character on campus who shows up every day at the quad to preach. His sermon never changes. He tells us that we’re all going to hell.
He takes out a Bible and shouts vile things. That we’re all adulterers and sinners. That our lifestyles deserve the wrath of God, that judgement comes for all of us and we college students, specifically, are screwed.
When I was a first-year, crowds would form. It was a spectacle. There’d be well-meaning tall white kids in checkered button-downs and Sperries who tried to have a rational conversation with him. There’d be misanthropic frat boys wearing backwards hats who preferred to Snapchat and draw phalluses on him. I was the second type.
But over time, the crowds dwindled. Today, he stands and reads passages aloud by himself. He paces and shouts and waves his hand. While he used to get engagement, he now gets, at best, some passing glances. The man tried to gain the superpower of influence but instead gained invisibility.
We used to pay him. Now, we’ve cut him off. He’s starved of the one thing that gets him up in the morning: attention.
I view 45 the same exact way. His one area of competence in life is getting attention. If he had business acumen, a man of his resources would surpass Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. If he had intelligence, a man of his prominence wouldn’t have won the election by a quirk in our electoral process. If he had decency, his children would have given him the love and affection he so clearly desires.
No, he only got where he is because of his ability to agitate emotional reactions. Over the course of his life, he’s developed an almost subconscious filter to find who’s empty enough, damaged enough or miserable enough to buy what he’s selling. Those of us that had more going on in our lives had the privilege to wave him off. Now that he’s the leader of the “free” world, we believe that we need to pay attention to him. That we need to give him what he craves: our anger, our misery, our irritation, our hot-blooded emotion.
I played football in high school, and I learned that there’s a difference between focus and awareness. When someone has the ball and they’re running at you, you only pay attention to their hips. It doesn’t matter what they’re doing with their arms or shoulders or head. The hips don’t lie. So when you’re on defense, approaching the ball carrier, you focus on the hips. Meanwhile, you’re aware of everything else going on — the other players, potential blockers who’d get in your way, where the ball carrier just went — but that’s in your peripheral. You’re focused on the hips.
Taking Trump down is going to take focus. That’s not the same as awareness, because his method is to throw as many stories at you as possible, so you can’t figure out what’s most outrageous or infuriating. That’s by design.
Everything he says is meant to throw you off from what he does. Just like a running back fakes his head to the left but darts to the right, he’ll make spectacles for us to tweet about while he’s making personal business deals with foreign governments behind the scenes. He wants us to read about him from the tabloid column when he’s actually in the business section. He wants us screaming in his face or approaching him calmly for “dialogue,” a futile exercise in affirmation — just so you more quickly exit the Trump Tower.
He’s a vulnerable man. He has plenty of holes to exploit. His flurry of spectacles is meant to confuse us so we don’t attack him where it’ll actually hurt. His biggest weakness is the Russia story, as that can most easily turn his Republican Congressional firewall against him. And his voter base will give this issue much more thought than anything else — Bob in Indiana who lost his factory job doesn’t give a damn about the EPA, I can promise you that. But our President making shady backroom deals with America’s historical nemesis? That’ll move the needle.
By the time this story gets published, anything could happen. But whatever happens this week, next week, every week— we need to maintain focus, not just awareness.
Awareness without focus means he’ll be just another bigoted preacher on the quad. We can’t ignore him as easily as the preacher because Trump’s presidency is actually consequential, but we need to maintain focus on what matters while keeping everything else in our peripheral. We need to stay on our toes, but not dive into the traps he lays out for us. Eyes on the hips.
Written by: Yinon Raviv — firstname.lastname@example.org