The POTUS bok-bok

President* Trump,

Hey, so it sounds like you aren’t down with participating in the debate next week since the Commission made the switch to virtual. I don’t know about you, but I’m hearing the insistent ‘bok, bok, bok’ sound chickens make.

Before I dig into your anxiety bits, though, I want to sketch out what a virtual town hall that was designed to hear both candidates respond directly to American’s questions and concerns might end up looking like if one of the candidates (you, as it turns out) refuses to participate. Let’s suppose for now that the 90-minute prime time slot is still filled by the town hall and those who are set to ask Joe Biden questions go ahead and do so and he responds. Let’s also supposed that those who are set to ask you questions go ahead and do so, but of course you don’t respond because you are busy facilitating more super-spreader events, aka rallies. If they stick with the planned format, it’ll be interesting to see how they handle the blank space that you would’ve over-filled. I don’t think it would play well if they allow a full two-minutes of silence (assuming that’s the allotted time limit per question) even though it would drive home your no-show status quite well and give the country time to meditate on how blissfully quiet it is when you aren’t there. I hope they allow at least 30 seconds of silence, maybe with a chyron running that says: “President Trump refuses to answer American’s questions or speak to their concerns.” That would pretty much sum it up, wouldn’t it?

Ok, back to your chicken-self. I’m betting that you were secretly thrilled when the Debate Commission changed the format to virtual. I’m guessing you were beside yourself with anxiety about how you’d handle questions from the American people after you flailed and flapped so ineffectively at your very own Town Hall event, struggling to respond coherently when real people challenged you even a tiny bit.  Plus, the town hall format doesn’t begin to accommodate your belligerent, abusive style. You can score macho-points with your White male base by yelling at, over-talking, demeaning, and disrespecting your opponent, but woe unto you if you were to pull any of that crap on the White suburban mom who challenges your racist coding over the suburbs becoming unsafe under President Biden. The prospect of having to behave yourself when confronted by real Americans raising their real concerns about you, your record, and where you seem to want to take the country was almost certainly not something you were ever looking forward to. In other words, you’d probably rather chew glass than subject yourself to such torment.

Remember when you had to meet with survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after 17 students and staff were murdered and you carried that little scrap of paper with the most pathetic of notes-to-self on it? If you’ve forgotten what that note said, there are images of you clutching it all over the Internet and three of the five points you wanted to remember to make are visible:

  • (1) What would you most want me to know about your experience?
  • (2) What can we do to help you feel safe?
  • (5) I hear you.

When a person needs a crib sheet like this to help him navigate with real people with real emotions and real suffering who aren’t in love with him, that person is not going to make a good showing in a live – no note – Town Hall format. In fact, that person is more likely than not going to come off sounding like the cold, out of touch asshole that he is. So, that person is going to do whatever the hell he needs to to avoid such situations because they are like Dorothy’s bucket of water was to the Wicked Witch of the West – the stuff of total annihilation.

May we be safe from chicken shits.
May we be willing to watch a one person “debate” and say ‘om’ if we get the luxury of silence where you would have been.
May we see that strong, grounded people make themselves emotionally available to others.
May we accept that we need leaders with this capacity.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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