Trump in Burlington: The Bully, The Bullied, and The Bystanders
A handful of years ago, I attended a seminar at my sons’ elementary school on bullying. The speaker was a woman named Barbara Coloroso, whose words impacted me greatly.
You see, as long as I can remember, I’ve had a visceral reaction to bullying. From my point of view, there is simply no excuse for bullying. It’s the strong picking on the weak, and I find it completely morally reprehensible.
There’s something inside of me that clicks when I witness bullying that will not be silenced. I remember being a guest at the dinner table inside my in-laws’ apartment in Chicago when my husband and I were newly married and hearing a teenage girl outside the window as she spoke with a young man. Her voice slowly changed from a normal tone to a louder begging tone, to borderline hysteria as she pled for mercy. My adrenalin kicked in as I raced down the stairs, across the sidewalk, and around the corner to the parking lot beneath the window where she struggled: her wrist held captive by the man’s hand, her arm twisted. I shouted at him to let go of her and to leave or there would be trouble. And, amazingly, leave he did.
In retrospect, it was probably a foolish move. The more appropriate option might have been to call the police, but at the time, it didn’t feel as if there was much of a choice. Stepping in immediately seemed like a necessity. A girl was being hurt by a guy, presumably her boyfriend, who had half a foot and 50 pounds on her, and the abuse had to stop.
What’s frightening to me, too, is how typically level-headed, caring people can get sucked into bullying situations.
Within the act of bullying, Barbara Coloroso explains that there’s a “deadly triad: bullies who terrorize, the bullied who are afraid to tell, and bystanders who watch, participate, or look away.” Often, we think of bullying as occurring between two parties: the bully and the bullied, but we can’t ignore the important third party, the bystander – a witness of sorts, who plays a critical roll in bullying. Bullies thrive on bystanders whether on the scene while the bullying is occurring, or while bragging about their deeds later on.
As much as we’d like to deny it, if we witness an act of bullying and do nothing, we’re also complicit.
Which brings me to Mr. Trump.
Last night, Donald Trump arranged for and spoke at a political rally in Vermont.
Not just in any town in Vermont, mind you. He held his rally in Burlington, Vermont, hometown of former mayor and current Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders. Now, despite being the largest city in the state, Burlington, with a whopping population of 42,000, is tiny as cities go. And its theater, where Trump held his rally, is fittingly small as well with a maximum capacity of 1,400. Thumbing his nose at this physical limitation, Mr. Trump and his band of marauders issued in excess of 20,000 tickets to the event, which is not only irresponsible, but it’s a certain recipe for chaos in a small community.
In addition to being small, Burlington is also extremely liberal, so much so in fact, that it’s often called a “hippie-loving enclave.” In other words, a bigoted, militaristic, xenophobe like Donald Trump who stands for the exact opposite of what most of Burlington’s residents do, would not only be unwelcome, but could quite possibly stir up such unrest and resentment in a few peaceable community members that it would be completely understandable if they considered ripping off their boho beads and strangling old tribble Trump with them. Which, of course, they never would, because . . . Peace.
And Trump knew all of that when he planned his visit. It was a purposeful act: one designed to taunt and demean Bernie Sanders, and to flip a big, fat, New York, billionaire middle finger at the residents of Burlington. It was also a pre-planned media circus, intended to point the spotlight on that particular rally, and that particular candidate, which is The Donald’s forte.
Trump has money. Trump has power. Trump has minions as well as paid bouncers who have shown that they are eager to berate, punch, kick and physically haul anyone who would dare to disagree with their mighty leader, out of his rallies.
Trump is a bully extraordinaire.
So, what did Bernie Sanders have to say before the visit took place? “I welcome Mr. Trump to Vermont. I hope his presence here will help him better understand Vermont values — social and economic justice, tolerance, respect for all people and the environment.”
Event ticket holders began standing in line as early as four thirty yesterday morning in the frigid Vermont air, to ensure they would have a seat at the rally. That evening, before being ushered inside to the rally, folks in line were first questioned about whether or not they were Trump supporters. Those who honestly admitted that they were not, were told they had to leave. If they tried to argue their case, they were told that it was a private event, and they would be arrested for trespassing. Never mind that one of the primary intents of a political rally is to allow the candidate to speak in front of non-followers and hopefully convert them into followers. Trump, as usual, plays by his own rules. But really, what’s the point of only talking to confirmed minions unless, of course, it’s all about pandering to the media? Which, of course, it was.
Well, as it turns out, some Bernie supporters must have said they were Trump supporters (Ouch!) just to get in the door because pockets of protesters began speaking out against the almighty one’s message from time to time while he was at the podium.
“Throw them out into the cold,” Trump bellowed to his henchmen, resulting in raucous cheering from his hand-picked crowd. “Confiscate their coats . . . It’s about 10 degrees below zero outside. Keep his coat. Tell him we’ll send it to him in a couple of weeks.”
And just like a dog does tricks to illustrate its mastery of various commands, Trump, right on cue, shared those and many other wincingly atrocious sentiments proving, yet again, that he is the toughest, loudest, brashest bully of the bunch.
Now, the question remains, what are we, you and I, going to do? What stance will we take?
Are we going to bully others in turn, fortified by Trump’s own blustering?
Are we going to sit back and allow ourselves to feel bullied by him and his ilk?
Are we going to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye and be the quiet, seemingly unconcerned, yet utterly complicit bystanders?
Or are we going to use our words and our votes to stand up against a tyrant like Donald Trump?
Because, like it or not, we all play a role in the deadly bullying triad.
And this time the bullying is taking place on a worldwide playground.
Cover photo courtesy of: stopguninsanity.com