When I was around 8 or 9 years old, I was brutally bullied at school by a boy in my class. I pretended to be sick so I wouldn’t have to go to school, but my parents realized something was up and my father came to talk to me. I confessed to her that I was afraid of my tormentor, and what followed was a lesson in the beauty of ignoring another person. He explained that bullies crave attention and if ignored, they kind of chicken out. He then showed me how frustrating it was to feel invisible, ignoring me when I tried to talk to him. It worked. I went back to school, ignored the bully, and he backed off from attacking me.
Donald Trump is like the abusive boyfriend or ex-husband who won’t go away. In this situation, we would take a restraining order, but obviously we cannot do that with Mr. Trump. So how about not making him the mainstream news? I noticed, to be fair, that he’s a little less prominent, but let’s face it, he’s still all over the news. I understand that the announcement of his candidacy for the presidency is news. But does it have to be a front-page story? Should the end of his exile from Twitter dominate today’s coverage? Does every move he makes, every ridiculous statement he utters, have to be reported?
With every report, every segment on television, we give him the elixir that keeps him alive: attention. There are a lot of things going on in the world that are bigger than Donald Trump. We have a planet to save. Russia continues to wage war on Ukraine and continues to imprison American citizens like Brittney Griner. The West lacks water. There are mass shootings so often that it’s hard to keep track of them. Just to name a few really big issues.
What if there was a collective commitment among responsible news outlets to remove Donald Trump from the front pages, not to report on him every day? He would huff and puff and try to blow up the house, but no one would care. Think how much calmer the waters would be. Think about how many other stories would get the bandwidth they deserve.
It’s not easy to ignore someone who continues to storm the world stage, determined to create chaos and eviscerate the democracy we depend on, but it’s often the only remedy that will work. The ignored person will find themselves alone on a battlefield they have created, with only their own voice screaming around them. Linger for a moment on this image – Donald Trump all alone in the desert, with only his own voice to keep him company.
There was a very satisfying ending to the story of my bully at school. My parents insisted that I had to invite everyone in my class to my birthday party – I couldn’t be rude and leave him out. We had my birthday parties at our ranch and the entertainer was a man with a horse and a dog, who trained the dog in horse riding and other tricks. Then the children would have the chance to ride a horse for a few moments. My former executioner burst into tears and recoiled at the thought of mounting his horse. He was terrified and everyone started laughing at him.
Every bully has something they’re afraid of. Every bully has something that makes them lose their game and reveal the weaknesses they’ve worked so hard to hide. All the media has to do is turn away from Donald Trump and we’ll see who and what he really is. Aren’t you at least curious?
Patti Davis, daughter of President Ronald Reagan, is an author. His most recent book is “Floating in the Deep End”.
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