You should learn this on your school playground, real bullies never have friends.
Instead, they rise by picking on vulnerable out-groups and laying into them relentlessly for sport and status. But those out-groups can change as the bullies' needs change, so the real danger lies in one day finding your own name on their ever-expanding out-list.
Usually, it starts with vulnerable minorities (LGBT kids, poor kids, kids with no one to take their side). One thing usually stays constant though, it's fear, not love or respect, that is the bullies' political currency.
Fear keeps the vulnerable from protesting, it keeps the principled from speaking up, it keeps potential victims from fighting back. That's because fear is a great deadener. It closes down on protest and possibility. If you don't believe you can ever win you won't fight.
It is strange to see the law of the playground hard at work in one of America's two great political parties, but here we are. We now have senators and congresspeople living in terror of a mean tweet or public scathing from the cruel playground bully in their own party who can cast them out of political favor with one word.
This overgrown playground bully now has the power to make their oldest friends and associates ostracize them, turning their backs because they are ordered to, afraid to ever speak up or fight back.
We have seen Congressional Minority Leaders like Kevin McCarthy sprinting through the halls of Congress like a hare chased by greyhounds rather than face reporters' questions about why the RNC insanely called the January 6 insurrection “legitimate political discourse.”
This is the same Kevin McCarthy who said in January 2021 that Donald Trump “bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters” but who then suddenly developed amnesia and can now more often be seen literally running away from his own principles and the free press.
It really does us no good to see grown men run like babies from the mean words of a bully. It sends a bad message to the country that these ridiculous tantrums must be endured.
It normalizes cruel dysfunction, it demonstrates that adult cowardice – and not the dollar – is the new coin of the realm.
It's not only in America of course. Putin's own cowering advisors often look like victims in a hostage video as he berates and belittles them on camera before events like the invasion of Ukraine, a sovereign nation, that Trump has repulsively called "a genius move."
Unchecked bullying says to other potential bullies that their time has finally come. It says this is a new golden age of political bullying. There is a reason why Congress is suddenly full of caustic thugs, political hacks who attack their fellow Americans far more than our nation's enemies.
It should be clear now that the worst thing that ever happened to our former bully in chief was not his impeachment for the abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, it was not the violent insurrection that he called for that attacked the Capitol and left people dead, it was the removal of his bully megaphone, the little Twitter account on his iPhone that he used to intimidate and threaten not just his foes but his so-called friends.
With that one little app, that bully could make grown men fold like accordions. In Washington, DC, Congresspeople lay awake at night worrying if everything they had ever worked for, the long hard arc of their own political lives, could be undone in ten words or less by the remorseless bully that they had somehow unwittingly crossed.
The answer to date is that indeed he still has the power to undo all their own hard work, he can instantly make their former friends forget their loyalties, he can make the wider public turn on them by lowering his thumb onstage like an emperor in that modern-day Colosseum he calls his endless red-hatted political rallies.
America stands up to bullies. We stand up for freedom.
That’s who we are.— President Biden (@POTUS) February 24, 2022
But there is one secret bullies hope you never learn. They prosper through fear and not love. That means they secretly lie awake at night worrying if that fear will one day turn to laughter.
They live in the same fear of being turned on in the same cruel way they turn the masses on their latest victims. All it takes is time - and the clock is ticking.