On November 23rd, many of you will be back home, caught in a cacophony of clattering silverware, the occasional smoke alarm, and of course, that one "chill piano music" playlist your parents put on. You will sit down for the long anticipated meal, give thanks, and dig into the delicious food. The chatter is harmonious, innocuous, and all around pleasant. But then someone says it.
It was inevitable, really. It could be your brother, your sister, your father, but it’s generally the second most outspoken member of your family. The comment comes in roughly twelve minutes into the dinner. The jig is up, and gone is the illusion of familial peace. The table falls silent, and dread sets in as you turn around and notice the nine empty cans of Miller Light awkwardly sitting in a corner. You now recall that Uncle Bobby was standing in that same corner, vying for attention, drinking when he received none, thereby furthering the vicious cycle that led to this inevitable tantrum.
You see his fragile ego shatter into a million pieces, and though your aunt tries to pick them up, the family knows it’s for naught.
I don’t need to spell out what he says, but he’ll come up with immaturely demeaning names for the rest of your family members, he’ll threaten to leave the family, he’ll threaten to punch your dad, maybe he’ll even stand up as if to demonstrate his readiness to do so.
The table is tense. Mom looks at Dad. Dad looks at your brother Mike. Mike looks at you, and you look at your Aunt, who sighs, stands up, and goes for a walk outside. Could this be the end? Was your assuming that you could all get along doomed from the start? Have you single-handedly destroyed a family with potential for harmony?
No, you haven’t.
Because after Bobby’s let all his air out, you see him for what he is: a sad, broken man with more strength than he deserves. He’s a deeply insecure man propped up by a false sense of machismo that harms those closest to him. A man who feeds his fragile ego 140 characters at a time.
If this gratuitous belligerence reminds you of something larger than Thanksgiving, it should. The world has recently had to deal with the same anxiety that comes from unwarranted truculence from someone who, for all intents and purposes, absolutely needs to have a grip on reality.
Just like Bobby’s contentiousness stems from a near-constant validation from those closest to him, it is Trump’s enablers who allow him to haphazardly endanger the lives of millions. Bobby can’t abandon the idea of his life as a Norman Rockwell painting, and in the same exact vein, Trump cannot abandon his archaic vision of an isolationist, white America. He claims to be a man of the present, but his actions all indicate his inability to evolve with the times.
So how do you deal with a drunk uncle, or a leader intoxicated on his own power? You could treat him like a common bully, and ignore him so he has no reaction to feed off of. But if you ignore him, he’ll go on and hurt someone else, and eventually you’ll have a table of broken, hurt family members. You could stand up to him, tell him off, but this seems to be the worst option, as he clearly has no intention of standing down. So what do you do?
Check him into rehab.
Yes, he’s been a terrible, terrible uncle, but he’s family, and he needs help. Cut off his supply of alcohol, and get him help.
While the presidency is occupied by someone clearly unfit therefor, it is imperative to strip it of its most efficacious powers, lest we let people suffer at the whims of one deeply insecure man.
It is also important that the family members closest to him implore him to get the help he needs, instead of complicitly handing him another beer whenever he so demands. As with any issue, inaction is perpetration, and should not be tolerated. We must expect the same responsibility from McConnell and Ryan as we would from Bobby’s wife and children.
It might be quixotic to dream of a happy family, as every member will have their egregious flaws, hidden or not. What we must do is help those with the clearest and most destructive ones, partly for their own betterment, but mostly to ensure the safety of those we love.
There’s hope for everyone. Even drunk Uncle Bobby.