Donald Trump can’t be the President of the United States because if he acted like this as a kid, nobody liked him. His refusal to debate on Fox News if Megyn Kelly is the moderator will be his undoing.
Why? Because Donald Trump just became the guy we hated playing with on playgrounds growing up: the guy that takes his ball and goes home.
We’ve all been there. We were 10 years old playing football/baseball/basketball (back when we could wander a couple blocks from home without our parents getting arrested). We chose up sides. We had rules. This side of the tree was out. The other side of the tree was in. New players were given an orientation on the rules. Those rules stuck with the playground you played on. We played. We had fun. The game usually ended organically when players started dropping off because it was time for dinner.
But there were times games ended prematurely. When that guy didn’t get a foul call; or if that guy was called out on the basepaths. That guy would take his ball and go home. On that particular day, that guy ran the game. Because if that guy didn’t get his way, the game ended. We hated playing with that guy.
Nobody liked that guy. And kids—especially in the summer—have long memories. So the next day, everyone showed up with a ball. And nobody wanted that guy on the team. Nobody wanted to play with the spoiled brat who thought he was bigger than the sand lot game. Because the game was more important than any particular player and everyone playing understood that. And once he stopped getting calls to go his way, that guy stopped coming around. Most of the time, he didn’t have to be told He just knew he wasn’t well liked and stopped playing.
By his refusal to take part in Thursday’s night Republican debate, Donald Trump just became that guy. He is that guy we didn’t respect on the playground. He has effectively taken his ball and gone home. And although the game changes on that particular day, the people left in that guy’s wake, resolve to never allow that guy to hijack the game. Because he’s not bigger than the game and he shouldn’t think he is.
Trump said that advertising revenue he brings to the debates is more important than the actual debate. Just like the kid who said his ball was more important than the game—because without it, we couldn’t play. Trump said Fox News will regret his absence because it will not make as much money as it would have if he was involved. Is that the guy you want to be President? That guy who thinks he is more important than the process? The guy who takes his ball and goes home?
I’m not a tough guy and wasn’t a tough kid. One day after getting in a tussle at school with the local bully, my father told me to punch the guy in the nose and he won’t punch you again. Bullies don’t mess with people who defend themselves.
By asking tough questions, Megyn Kelly punched Donald Trump in the nose. And now look who is backing down. Donald Trump won’t engage someone he can’t bully.
That’s another kid we didn’t like to play with in school.
Fortunately, Donald Trump didn’t shoot someone on 5th Avenue so we won’t see how his poll numbers will react after such an event. But can his refusal to participate in this debate actually be worse than that?
Although simplistic, this tactic will resonate poorly with voters. Will this tactic give voters a gut punch? Will it give us a bad feeling, something like déjà vu? Will it give a feeling that we’re not quite certain where it came from but an understanding that this sort of behavior is just plain bad?
Will it take you back to a time when you were young and that green field seemed endless? Remember when those hours in the summer sun seemed like days? You played with the same seven kids. You made rules that kept the game fair. And when someone broke a rule, the collection of kids dealt with it? It was easy because there was right and wrong. And you knew when someone was wrong. And you knew when that guy left the game, the game would be better.
Let that guy leave the game. Let Donald Trump take his ball back home to New York.
Yes, there is one less player on the sand lot—but ultimately, the game will be better without him.
Filed under: National Politics