The Bully in the Schoolyard


When you have a group of five thirteen-year old boys, they have a collective mental age of about eight. The larger the group, the lower the mental age. They have the same ability to discern right from wrong, appropriate from inappropriate as someone five years younger than their physical age.

I was just watching a group of such boys playing at the swimming pool and they kept getting into my lane, but I realized that none of them could be reasoned with, because they didn’t know why they were doing what they were doing. They were simply following the group. When a group of boys lights a homeless person on fire, and you ask them individually why they did it, they will say “because Joe said it was a good idea.” And if you then ask “why didn’t you object?” they’ll say, “I don’t know. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Joe’s usually pretty smart.”

Our Congress is like a group of thirteen year old boys. There is a bully in the schoolyard, and a group of stronger boys has appointed themselves his lieutenants. They are afraid of him and envy his power. If you intend to challenge the bully, you will have to deal with them first. They will sneak up behind you while are distracted by some outrageous bully act, and then you will have to deal with them as well as the bully.

If you could candidly talk to the members of Congress who form Trump’s core support, they might individually admit they disagree with his policies, but none will go on record with that. Besides, they like this bully better than they liked the last bully, who did not hold them in esteem.

No individual can take on the bully or his cohorts. It will take overwhelming force. And reasoning with a group of people with a collective age of a preteen will get you nowhere.



2 thoughts on “The Bully in the Schoolyard

  1. Exactly right. This is what another Iowa City writer, Clark Blaise, so wonderfully described as “the great baboon troop of boyhood and adolescence.” But we should expect our “leaders” to leave it behind, shouldn’t we?

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