My Vote is with Mr. Rogers


MR. ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD, (AKA MISTEROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD), FRED ROGERS, (CA. 1970S), 1968-2001

Imagine you are in a Starbucks or wherever your brain brings you when you imagine picking up a coffee and a cake. Now imagine two men (or women, up to you) are in line in front of you. Guy the First speaks politely to the barista. He orders his coffee, waits, and gets his coffee. When it’s clear the barista has forgotten to include a lid, he asks her for one, dismisses her apology with a light-hearted joke about his own forgetfulness, thanks the barista, and goes on his way. Guy the Second is the opposite. He snaps his order to the barista, orders her around as if is something less demanding of human decency, and calls her a fucking moron for not including a lid. Instead of thanking her, he harshly berates her for ruining the rest of his day because of her gaff. And then he goes his way with a whistle.

I don’t think I have to go into the question of which of those two men you’d feel more comfortable or happy with and which you’d feel aggressively unpleasant towards and maybe be kind of embarrassed for. If you were the person standing behind these two men, you probably wouldn’t concern yourself with the first person at all. Your life would go on and so would his. The second guy would be different. You might think for a while – what the hell is wrong with that guy?

Last week Donald Trump took two stabs at Joe Biden. The first was that Biden would make the apparently embarrassing mistake of believing scientists. A good deal of American voters couldn’t quite figure out what the jab was and we looked around at each other with narrowed, confused eyes saying “I don’t get it. What was the jab?” Trump might as well have said “I’ve heard that Biden is just unbelievably good in bed” or “This Biden character pays all his bills on time and works out five times a week.”

It’s clear that this was aimed at the, dear Dog please, fringe minority of Trump cultists who think that science is a conspiracy created by George Soros meant to keep human life from walking off the edges of the table-shaped world. But I don’t have too much faith in my hopes.

The second dig compared Joe Biden to Mr. Rogers. And for that Trump can just walk himself off the edge of our table earth.

We all get why he did it. By comparing Joe Biden to Mr. Rogers he’s suggesting that he’s a milk toast too-nice-guy, not a tough guy like Trump not only pretends to be, but which has become a massive part of his persona.

There is so much to say about this that I could write a blog post a day for a year on Donald Trump vs. Mr. Rogers. But to narrow that down, let’s just say that if Mr. Rogers was alive today, I would vote for him.

This line of commentary says so much more about Donald Trump than it does Joe Biden. Joe Biden, for his part, is a good and decent man. He’s a family man, who takes responsibility for his actions. He’s not a bully or a braggart, as Trump is most hideously, on things he hasn’t done. Biden has so far talked about unifying a hurting country. This of course is in stark contrast to Donald Trump, a man of extraordinarily weak values and no integrity, who has pandered to an angry subset of the country while doing everything he can to drive a wedge between right and left America.

And no doubt this comment shows Donald Trump to be what he really is – a very sad, insecure person whose only care is what people think of him. He is insanely lacking in self-awareness and so desperately wants to come off as a tough guy that he’s possibly the only man in America who would attack combat veterans of a war that he got out of because his heels hurt. I don’t think there’s any more need to put down Donald Trump, because honestly, I pity him. I really do.   

More to the point, how could Trump think that attacking Mr. Rogers’ character is A. reasonable for a man so lacking in every positive characteristic a human being can possess? And B. something that will endear him to a majority of Americans 10 days before they will vote for or against him? If you are somewhere near my age (46 in reality / 13 in my brain / 73 in my knees), then Mr. Rogers was a huge part of your life. He showed us all that he cared for us whether we were tall or short, fat or thin, black or white.

And to Trump’s insinuation that Mr. Rogers was a wimp, he had the guts to soak his feet in a pool with Officer Clemmons at a time when the country battled over segregation. So in 1969, when the civil rights issue was at a fever pitch, Mr. Rogers had the guts to say that black and white were equal and the same, which is a thing Donald Trump is too scared to say fifty years later lest it upset those who like him. When Mr. Rogers found out that a blind girl at home couldn’t see him feeding the fish, he said it aloud while he was doing it. More than a gesture, this showed a little girl that she was included. Donald Trump’s policies during the coronavirus pandemic has been more or less “sorry you’re going to die, but I need these people to think I don’t believe in science.” And yet when he got sick he got the best medical care the world can offer it. And afterwards, he had the gall to brag and dance.

I think we could use a little more Mr. Rogers in American politics. He taught generations of kids to treat others with respect, to love and help one another. He taught us to share and he treated everyone as if they mattered. What could possibly be wrong with a leader who espouses those ideas? But Mr. Rogers’ legacy was that he knew we were all special and he found the good in everyone. Maybe, with a little bit of time and effort, he could even find the good in Donald. J. Trump. But that might be wishful thinking.     

  1. #1 by ed on October 29, 2020 - 12:47 am

    HEY dame! Great post as always!

    Trump is a major dickhead with a cult of personality, lacks empathy, and has a dangerous lust for attention and power…. but do you really believe biden is kind and decent? Kinder than his opponent sure but very far from a paragon of virtue… he’s got plenty a dirt on his hands.

    • #2 by Damien Galeone on November 2, 2020 - 6:41 pm

      Hello Edwardo! I know that any politician (normal, that is) has dirt on their hands. I’m not going to pretend that Biden’s clean as a whistle, but compared to Trump he’s the fucking Dalai Lama. Ed, don’t you think it’s weird that we all hold seem to hold every politician in America to a FAR higher standard than we do Trump? I mean, it’s as though the whole country – left and right – has just said, ‘oh yeah, well Trump’s a pathological lying sack of shit, but this other guy once said something mean about Detroit.’ Trump needs to be off the national political scene – he’s got no place in it.

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