Political bullying May 18, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
The new 296-page National Academies’ report laments the lack of consistency among definitions of bullying, but the most common way to define the behavior seems to be as repeated intentional and aggressive actions in which the perpetrator has greater power—regardless of whether that power imbalance is real or simply perceived. Ultimately, bullying might not only be a symptom of a power imbalance but also a contributing factor. According to the report, even though some individuals who bully are “maladjusted,” others, it says, “are motivated by establishing their status within their peer group.” It’s worth noting that studies have found that bullies tend to be more popular than their peers.
“The captain of the football team and the head cheerleader—these are people who know how to get away with bullying without getting caught,” says Tony Volk, a developmental psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. He says that teachers often wrongly think of bullies as lacking social skills and being isolated, when in fact these students actually tend to be popular and high in status, even if they are not well liked by their peers. This is an important distinction and one that, again, is reminiscent of Trump: Popularity does not presume likability. Volk and other researchers draw a distinction between “sociometric” popularity, which describes the status of children who are genuinely liked and “peer-perceived” popularity, a scientific term for the status of so-called popular kids. “Those two groups of kids don’t actually overlap that much,” says Julie Hubbard, director of the Peer Relations Lab at the University of Delaware. “It is the peer-perceived popular kids who tend to bully.”
I’ve encountered bullying behaviours, was for periods as a kid on the receiving end of it, though thankfully only for brief periods – in part because I wasn’t I think worth bullying perhaps because I managed to give the impression it didn’t affect me. It did of course and hugely but it was a useful shield. Not everyone has that shield, or the ability to craft it. And seeing people who were bullied day in day out and realising what that does to them is appalling.
But as an adult the worst bullying I’ve seen has been in work places and online. The former was often a function of work hierarchies, though not always, the latter – well, we’ve all seen it here, there and everywhere. There are thin lines sometimes between enthusiasm, partisanship and bullying but I think that over time the latter becomes clear.
As to Trump, it’s not difficult to hear the excuses – he’s only being ‘political’, ‘if you can’t stand the heat’, etc, etc. Interesting too is the way his proxies are turning on conservatives who aren’t joining in the coronation process – this from Slate on Breitbart’s attitude and rhetoric directed at William Kristol is particularly telling (by the way, imagine if a left or liberal site of equivalent stature said the same about a similar equivalent left wing figure – well, truth is it just wouldn’t happen)…
But there’s a special sort of deceitfulness about the man, a certain sort of bombast and narcissistic egocentricity that marks him apart from most politicians I’ve had the sometimes displeasure to encounter (whose egocentricity is a given). In a way the thing about Trump is that he acts as if there are no consequences, no ramifications as regards what he says, that he can say anything and it does not actually matter – bar that he has said it, that his own authority is sufficient, that boosting himself is all that counts and anything else is hardly worthy of mention.
And perhaps that is it, for him that is all that counts. As to the rest of the inhabitants of the US, or indeed this planet, well – that’s another matter entirely.