1. “A Bully In The White House”
“It would be bad enough to have a competent bully in the White House,” says Adam James, founder of the online journal Majority60. “To have an incompetent bully there is a disaster.”
James knows what he’s talking about. From Monday 23 Oct to Friday 27 Oct, Majority60 is a hosting weeklong online seminar on the subject of bullying. And bullying, he notes, isn’t just a problem of a few tussles on schoolyards. Still less is it merely the concern of sensitive “snowflakes.” Rather, it is potentially crippling, both for individuals (people who have been seriously bullied, particularly as children, report psychic injuries lasting for lifetimes) and even the larger society.
According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, for example, when bullying happens in the office, victims report trauma akin to PTSD—but the employees are not only the ones to suffer when the boss is a bully. Employers who tolerate, or don’t bother to discover bullying going on in their organizations frequently suffer serious declines in productivity and the loss of talented employees, not to mention the occasional lawsuit.
And then, of course, there’s the bully in politics—or, in our current crisis, the one in the White House, who has more or less openly enshrined bullying behaviors as part and parcel of his day-to-day business. Not only has his own conduct been appalling, but his example has given license to a new wave of ugly behavior across the land. Indeed, the Southern Poverty Law Center now talks about the “Trump Effect,” and credits it with thousands of acts of aggression and intimidation in towns, schools and communities everywhere.
Which is why James and Majority60 decided to address the subject. “Bullying is life changing,” he warns. “It absolutely shapes you.” And for that reason, society needs to examine it very closely.
2. Not So Boring
“I’m an MBA turned political scientist,” James says of himself. After a childhood spent partly in Pennsylvania, he now lives and works in Nashville. He really didn’t get passionate about politics until he watched the somewhat mysterious and contested election that put George W. Bush into the White House.
But it was the most recent election, in 2016, that moved him to begin Majority60. “Originally, it was going to be just a boring policy site,” he jokes. However, circumstances quickly changed that. Soon, he began to do interviews of liberal and progressive-conservative notables from around the country. Among many others, James has profiled Randy Bryce, the iron worker famous for his “iron stache” and his opponent Cathy Myers, the Harley-riding schoolteacher who are fighting it out for the chance to unseat Paul Ryan in Wisconsin; Shannon Watts, the energetic and charismatic founder of Moms Demand Action; Jaime Harrison, the Associate Chair and Counselor of the Democratic National Committee; and on and on. (In interest of full disclosure, we should add that among James’ interviews is our Founding Editor, Mat Blanchfield, who sat down with Majority60 back in September.)
However, recently, James decided to branch out with an actual week-long event. “It is 100% new,” he says. “We’ve never done anything like it.”
The event, which will be online, will include articles, essays and personal stories from activists, experts, and political figures on the subject of bullying. James notes that among the contributors, guests, and participants will be “Congressional candidates: Dr. Christine Eady-Mann, who talks about the health effects of bullying, and Cathy Myers, currently vice president of the Janesville, WI School board who will be writing about bullying from the point of view of a teacher…as well as a number of Twitter activists discussing cyber bullying and race, and the systemic failures of society to deal with sexual intimidation and violence in the workplace.”
Moreover, Majority60 has its first non-political celebrity interview for the event— actor Curtis Armstrong, whom readers will remember from his roles in Risky Business and Revenge of the Nerds,” as well as TV’s “Moonlighting,” “The Closer” and “Supernatural.”
“[Armstrong] is an actor, but he is also a lifelong activist,” says James. “And his new memoir, Revenge of the Nerd, gives a behind the scenes look at what it’s like being on and off set with huge Hollywood stars and shares what it was like to grow up in Detroit and Geneva. The king of the nerds shares what it was like being a nerd before being a nerd was cool.”
3. Not A Bully’s Pulpit
Asked why he decided on bullying for the topic of his publication’s first event, James admits he isn’t quite sure. But, “if I remember correctly, it was when I heard him [Trump] refer to Colin Kaepernick as a son of a bitch.”
The idea that a president of the United States, the nation’s commander-in-chief, should have used such vulgar and juvenile language to talk about an American citizen, who was simply exercising his freedom of expression, utterly revolted him.
“The office of the presidency,” he says, “is called a ‘bully pulpit.’ But that doesn’t mean you can use it to be a bully. It is supposed to be a moral compass for the country. It was never meant to be a place for attacking American citizens.”
And so, the idea of the event on bullying was born. There will be, he notes, other events in future. “I imagine they will lean toward policy debate issues…health care for instance.”
But bullying, a genuine social crisis of the first order if there ever was one, will be the first of them. “Definitely fire up your twitter accounts,” he jokes. “And come visit Monday through Friday, October 23 through October 27. There will be something new every day.”
And we may rest assured that every bit of it…every word, new or not…will remind a certain orange-headed clown in a White House that it isn’t “snowflakes” who are the losers, but rather the empty men who flail at the world in a futile attempt to conceal their own enormous, and awful…