When I heard the news that Donald Trump had pulled out from tomorrow’s GOP debate in Iowa I admit that I was surprised. Of course he had threatened to “no-show” for several days now but I thought it was just a ploy. I told myself he was doing the same song and dance he did with CNN several weeks back.
I know his move is calculated. I know his team methodically looked at every possible scenario. I know his supporters are confident. But as someone who has watched Trump’s entire campaign in awe, this is one decision that I particularly don’t care for. In fact, I flat out don’t like it.
The main reason why I love the debates so much is that it is competition at its finest. To me, it is as if the debates are a simulated athletic contest. Competitors (debaters) prepare for the event, battle butterflies before it begins, perform when the lights are on, and answer to how well they executed afterwards. It is a grueling process that tests a person.
Training, showing up/executing, and taking responsibility are all given components of participating in a sporting event. At the bare minimum, this is what you know for sure you will have to do. None of these three realities are easy. It takes a lot of heart. But as any athlete can tell you, several other factors will also test one’s strength.
By “other factors” I mean competing in a hostile environment, not feeling 100% on game day, battling unforeseen equipment/field issues, fending off problems not related to the sporting competition, doing your best when an opposing player/team might not be playing fairly, etc.
And oh yes, one other obstacle that athletes routinely face is when they look at the game assignments and see who will be officiating their game. Don’t kid yourself here, players form quick impressions on what officials do a good job and which ones don’t. Even competing in high school I had my own short list of referees I didn’t want to see out on the field. I thought they were unfair.
But so what? Every single athlete, including myself, went out and still played the game.
To me, Donald Trump is flat out refusing to compete and I don’t like it. He is no longer training for the debate. He won’t put himself out there on the stage tomorrow in front of millions of people watching at home. He won’t subject himself to the stress of answering questions and challenging his competitors. He won’t have to answer to and evaluate his performance once the debate concludes.
However, the worst part of his refusal to compete is his reasoning for doing so. I get that he doesn’t like Megyn Kelly. I get that he believes she is unfair. I get that he feels she has no place to moderate the debate. But deal with it! Do your absolute best to overcome the adversity and show up at the debate venue on Thursday night. Use her presence to motivate you. Plan for the line of questioning she will deal to you. Don’t pout and quit. Instead, rise to the occasion.
Using the excuse of “she doesn’t treat me fairly” just doesn’t cut it with me. We all have faced circumstances where we had to perform under the perception that we were not being treated fairly yet we stuck it out. I think Trump should do the same.
As I said, I know the Trump team believes this move will help them. However, I don’t see how. If I lived in Iowa and was beating myself up over whether to support Cruz or Trump on Tuesday, I don’t think the decision would be that hard anymore. I think most Iowans would side with the person who respected the process and had the decency to show up for the debate. We shall see. Don’t Blink.