If you’ve ever spent time hanging out on an elementary school playground, you probably know how one kid can influence the tone of the whole school. One kid starts swearing, and suddenly “everyone” is swearing. One kid starts tackling other kids while playing “fliers up” football, and suddenly kids are being thrown to the ground everywhere you look.
Every once in awhile, there will be a kid who can throw his chest out, strut around, and convince everyone that he can say or do exactly as he pleases (usually sprinkled with plenty of insults), and no one will speak against him because they don’t want the insults pointed in their direction. He can kick balls out of kids’ hands, run through tetherball games, and jump into the front of the jump rope line, and laugh his way through it all. It’s not a playground you want your kids playing on when this becomes the status quo–it’s unsettling, unfair, and seems to give everyone permission to be their worst selves.
George Bailey, in the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, discovers (with the help of an angel), what a difference he has made in his life to the tone and lifestyle of his town, Bedford Falls. When the deceptive, cunning, insulting Mr. Potter is left in charge without a George Bailey to counter him, the town has become Potterville–a place of strip clubs and desperation. A bar club owner feels free to humiliate a ragged man who comes begging, and then he ridicules Clarence, the angel. It’s not a place you’d want to live, just like the playground in charge of a bully is not a fun place to play.
I don’t talk about politics very often. I don’t feel like I know enough about it, usually, for one thing. After watching the last Republican debate, however, I feel compelled to ask this: Do we want to live in Bedford Falls or Trumpville? The US, granted, is not as perfect a place as Bedford Falls, but a leader who calls people “a nothing,” who would be sent to the principal’s office if he was running for a student body position using the same language, insults, and antics, who can only point to how he’s “winning” in order to counter substantive questions, who is already, in my own experience, giving some kids permission indirectly to pick on other students)–that is a leader who will create a tone for a country that I don’t want to live in.
Governor Kasich was the only adult on the stage who looked like he could bring people from both sides together. Isn’t that the tone we want and need for our country? Ohio, it’s up to you to keep him alive in this race! Bedford Falls or Trumpville?