Not Fake News received a response to one of my latest blogs about checks and balances in which I urged readers to "take a stand." The respondent asked several important questions, but the bottom line was this: In the face of today's Trumpian environment, how do we take a stand?
I'll get to that. Stay with me.
Foremost in those questions was how to explain to our children and grandchildren how someone can be doing the things Trump does every day when it is diametrically opposed to the values upon which they were raised. That's a tough one.
One of the issues I had as an educator for many years was the undue attention paid to students who acted out in class. They received rewards for “having a good day” or “not being as bad as they were the day before”. The result: other students realized that to get attention, they needed to act out, thus creating chaos.
This is true of the Trump administration. In fact, Trump’s daily bad acts and deeds drew him so much attention that he’s now in the White House. Like the recalcitrant students, he is reaping the benefits of these bad acts and deeds through the attention he attracts. Every day he acts out -- and gets away with it.
In the ideal world, the way to stop him would be to ignore him. Stop giving him news coverage. Ban him from Twitter. Take away his favorite “news” source, Fox, by having the FCC ban them for misuse of the airwaves.
Sadly, we do not live in an ideal world. We live in a world where sex and scandal sells. By paying so much attention to his Tweets and outlandish behavior, the media that he regularly vilifies continues to provide the platform he needs.
Indeed, during the campaign, I recall yelling at the television to stop giving him so much coverage. His outlandish behavior was what put him in the spotlight in the first place, elevating his status with free publicity.
So, how do we respond when our children ask us what to do?
Begin by asking them if this is the kind of world they want to live in? Ask them what they see as right and wrong. Ask them what they see as acceptable behavior. Then, tell them the one mistake people make with bullies is sitting on the sidelines and allowing it to happen. In other words, through inaction, they are enabling the bully to succeed.
Encourage them to be active in their community. Have them volunteer for a campaign that supports a worthwhile candidate. Allow them to have aspirations to seek political office. Tell them that the only way to change things is to become part of the solution.
Another issue the respondent raised was the increased popularity of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She has definitely sparked renewed interest in the political process among the younger crowd. Like JFK from a previous generation, or Barack Obama from this one, AOC has given rise to a new era of hope to those questioning the bad acts of this administration.
What she lacks in experience she more than makes up for in attitude and chutzpah. I also see hope in her actions, but worry that, like the mythical Phoenix, she will burn brightly for a while, then fade into political obscurity. However, AOC is one to watch. She represents a ray of hope in today’s ugly political landscape.
How do we take a stand?
We do so by getting involved and not sitting on the sidelines.
We do so by combating misinformation with facts.
We do so by not being complacent, especially during elections.
We do so by committing random acts of kindness.
We do so by responding to hate with well thought out, coherent responses. (Nothing makes an irrational person angrier than being shut down by irrefutable facts).
I hope this helps my respondent. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but perhaps this is a starting point for those seeking them.
Good luck! Above all, get involved – and don’t forget to vote! That's the most important way of all to take a stand.