Somewhat recently (as of this writing), presidential candidate Donald Trump went on The Tonight Show, where Jimmy Fallon ultimately played political softball with him, culminating in Jimmy playfully tussling Donald’s hair. It didn’t take long for a plethora of Twitter tirades and blogger think-pieces to respond to this, decrying Fallon’s humanization of Donald Trump, how he didn’t press him with any tough questions and simply allowed him to be his gross self.
I definitely see where these folks are coming from. I am certainly not a fan of Trump and his flagrant misogyny, racism, lack of compassion, disregard for the truth, and manipulation of vulnerable populations. But there’s something about this attack on Jimmy Fallon for humanizing him that rubs me the wrong way.
I will grant that Jimmy Fallon has probably committed a grossly irresponsible act in potentially positively affecting Donald Trump’s electability at this point. The man has not demonstrated that his presidency would be anything but a giant, dangerous step back for modern, liberal, secular values, for education, for compassion, for humanity, for the environment, for the entire wellbeing of this country and even this planet.
However, I hold the sincere belief that there is some good inside of just about everyone, including Donald Trump. It’s obvious he’s a serial liar focused first and foremost on himself and his appearance of success, conditioned into contempt for those around him, probably beginning with his upbringing and continuing into today, where he seems to surround himself with a bubble of yes-men.
But even an apparent monster like Trump deserves compassion. Given his upbringing, could he have ended up any other way? Have decades of insecurity and emotional roller-coasters of superfluous praise and criticism not made him who he is today? Is it not possible that just maybe, Jimmy Fallon let out a scared little boy that’s been stuck inside of Trump except for these rarest of moments? Do we not think that Trump could have felt a selfless pride at the birth of his children, or felt real grief at the death of a friend or family member? I would like to believe that, even if his conditioning squashed these moments within seconds of their arising, it’s probable that they’ve nonetheless occurred.
So what does this mean for us now? I don’t know. I’m no politician or campaign strategist. Maybe for now we really should be dehumanizing Trump if we don’t want the mentally unstable guy in the oval office (I’d like to believe that’s not the case, but I honestly don’t know). But just maybe when this is all over, we can start treating him and his cronies like the deeply-flawed human beings they are. Just like the rest of us.