Bullies are not invincible. Far from it. They are more afraid than most people. So as victims, they decide make somebody else more afraid than they are. With enough abuse a human sees only two possible roles. You can’t be one without the other. Victims will do anything to placate their abusers in hopes of reducing the seemingly random violence. But behind it all is a frightened child.
The new president, after a long campaign of wild rhetoric and belligerent outbursts, has started directing executive action against vulnerable groups that a normal person would treat with respect and kindness and generosity, such as women and children fleeing for their lives from war zones. This has put citizens on full alert for the next outrage - or for some imagined terror attack, which Trump recklessly claims his sweeping edicts will forestall.
This is what abusers do. They have to keep their victims off balance. When they try to find some plausible context for increasingly painful and frightening behavior, the “rules” change, followed by humiliation and retribution. Imagination runs wild. It becomes a desperate guessing game as we learn how badly we underestimated their harmful intent.
But bullies are not invincible. Trump’s legal and legislative fights will not blow over when some bigger story comes along. Unlike former investors, he can’t sue these people with their own money. Congressional elections are coming, and the courts have some appreciation for facts. Lately his trajectory is aptly described as a collision course with calamity, for himself or for all of us, depending on when it comes. But come it must. And if the president doesn’t see this, surely his corporate backers do. Trump never got where he is on his own. He is propped up by those who find his flamboyantly destructive behavior convenient.
This leads to some inescapable conclusions. One: his ultimate failure and removal from office won’t bother his backers at all; they may even facilitate it. Two: by the time he goes too far even for his party, their agenda will have become the law of the land. In other words, this is the old bait-and-switch game.
Yes: we, the people, need to stand up to this bully. Deprive him of his drug of choice: our rapt attention. That we must give to the people in his shadow, without whom Trump would be just another guy in a suit. They are serious. It is past time they were exposed to some sunlight, maybe let their stockholders get to know them a little better.