Joe and Donald going at it like School Boys: The 2020 Masculinity Fight Club

I like sports. Many people do. I have stories from my youth, just like you do. Let’s converse about what many learned about sports in working-class communities as an analogy for our current state of presidential politics. Basically, many of us have seen this script before when battling for supremacy as kids playing pickup sports.


Kids play far more organized sports these days. Many of you won’t have experienced choosing your own squad to play pickup football, basketball or baseball. But in the old days, this is what we did — and how the drama flowed. Because we didn’t have X-Box back then.

A rich kid arrived with a ball, friends and neighborhood kids gathered, threw the ball around 20 or 30 minutes for fun, then after enough kids had come outside and jumped in on the fun, someone would yell, “Hey, let’s have a game! We’ve got enough people now!

You gathered around in a circle, agreed on the best two players as captains (because you can’t have the best two players on the same team), then chose the teams, one player after the other. You never wanted to be the last one chosen. That was humiliating. You will get THE LOOK of disdain, or get the verbal equivalent: “Okay, I guess you are on our team by default.”

This may have happened to me once, but never again. I had pride of place in the lineup. But enough about tender emotions at twelve years young. Let’s interweave Trump and Biden’s likely place in this neighborhood scenario. This has been an instructive analogy for me since both campaigns began in earnest in 2019.

He who owns the ball owns the gold

On our street, the last guy chosen was also the rich kid who brought the ball. We had to keep him happy. Which meant throwing him the ball on occasion. We took some joy in the ball bouncing off his chest or his head. Under our breath, of course. He complained and pouted or cried sometimes. This was probably mean and a gateway to bullying, but the statute of limitations has passed now. We were 12 years old, most of us, and laughing at each other and crying was not such a bad thing then. We had yet to discover toxic masculinity.

On rare occasions, when things did not go in his favor, he took his ball and went home. This is a violation of the basic tenant of childhood: “Let us play!”

We stood around, bursting with energy and ready to have more competitive fun on the black-top narrow street we played football on, while confused about how the worst player on the street could stop the game. He could because he owned the ball. He held much power over us because we were one rant away from losing our joy at playing sports. Being poor has its consequences. Let’s call the kid with the money and the ball, Donald.

By the time kids we were playing in high school, there were a few more balls to play with. Teenagers like me were now employed at Kinney Shoes and making our own money, and because God invented Christmas gifts of sports equipment. So, the rich kid didn’t hold as much sway over the game, the rules, and our tender emotions. And because half of our minds were thinking about girls, anyway. Maybe more than half.

Playing Fair in the Neighborhood

So, Donald, now 16 years old, decides in the middle of a great game, to take his ball and go home because he’s not getting enough “action” at wide receiver. But not without a tussle. You see, Joe lives on the end of the block. He’s been pleading with Donald since he was a kid to “play fair” and be a team player, not a “momma’s boy.” (I was a momma’s boy, but that lasted until I was 10 years old. Divorce meant a harsh reversal of my fortunes. I was treated closer to a runaway slave. But no shame in being a momma’s boy. That is not your fault.)

Joe and his family had a harsh upbringing with not much of anything but hard work and a penchant for talking truth to power. (This is simply my analogy; Joe’s real-life personal background, like Donald’s, is far more complex than I want to explore here.) (All About Joe Biden) (Trump the ‘Bully’: How Childhood & Military School Shaped Him)

Joe had always pleaded with Donald to “do the right thing” as a kid growing up.

Other kids respected Joe. He was a tough kid, but fair. He never backed down from a fight. He would defend you if you were his friend when bullies approached. It didn’t matter if Joe won the fight or not, he was loyal and a fighter and forgiving, if the situation called for peace.

Donald just huffed and puffed and walked away. With his ball. Again and again, leaving many kids high and dry.

Joe pleaded in high school, too. He asked Donald to “Stop being such a cry baby all the time.” Donald was bigger, stronger, and more emboldened by his parents’ riches, which he seemed to think were his own and earned with his hard work. He could bully his cronies because they liked the money he drizzled on them. This made him think he was REALLY a tough guy, even though it was all on paper. Green paper.

They stayed with Donald and didn’t challenge him. If they did, he would “defriend” them. So, Donald mistakenly thought everyone was a pushover. And that he was tough. And that people loved him for all of those reasons.

At some point, you just have to fight

He chastised Joe in front of others at school, calling him “Poor Joe,” then walked away smug as ever. Joe, of course, wasn’t having it. He yelled back, “I’ll see you behind the gym after school.” That’s kinda how it happened. Duke it out, like the good old days. (Trump responds to Biden’s wish to fight him: ‘I’d love that’)

Sidebar for Black folks: For my Black readers, what you need to know is that this is the most “White male” thing you can say to someone. You challenge them to a fight to settle matters. You will see this over and over again in movies. Klingons, my Star Trek friends will know, gladly accept the challenge to their leadership. They pull out a knife and shank the opposition. I don’t personally know how this settles anything, but here we are in the Western World of dicks and hissy fits. If we ever needed emotional intelligence, it is now. (Trump responds to Biden’s wish to fight him: ‘I’d love that’)

And though Black people do something very similar in shows of machismo, I want to stick to White ways of seeing the world as both of these competitors are very white and very male. But these patterns of machismo are certainly not the province of White males only. We follow their lead.

While Joe wasn’t a bully as a kid, all the other boys looked up to him because he had a sense of right and wrong and had a loyalty to his family that was unshakable. Kids saw that, and saw that Joe stood for something besides himself. They were all anxious to see the fight at the end of the day behind the gym.

We called it the 2020 presidential election.

Ways to avoid a fight you picked

But Donald didn’t want to fight. He knew the outcome already. All the other White males would align with Joe and cheer him on because he was more “authentic.” Joe could “out White-man” Donald. Thus, Donald had to figure a way to win. He wasn’t used to a fair fight. If he did fight, it was usually against women and minorities with harsh words and insults about their looks or non-White maleness, and most of the time would win favor with other White males who stood by and said things like, “Awesome — he put her in her place!” He felt bold around women or “others” who were not White male. Many White males loved him for that.

But they revered Joe because he was like them. And Donald knew it.

This is why Donald sought help from another Ukraine before the election. He had to find a knockout punch before the woodshed fight ever happened. He knew that a REAL FIGHT would be the end of him. Which is why he got impeached as president. He tried to cheat. (Trump Impeachment: A very simple guide)

He could find nothing on Joe, because “character,” so he went after his son, Hunter. Hunter might have done shady things, but Hunter wasn’t running for president. But alas, Joe might have helped secure Hunter’s job, or something like that. I don’t doubt that there could have been influence peddling. Maybe not. But it did look bad. (Republican Inquiry Finds No Evidence of Wrongdoing by Biden)

But if Donald could just find something — anything — to prevent a fair fight behind the gym, he would.

Donald abused his power trying to get Joe disqualified before the big fight. He lost his pre-fight battle. He was shamed for his trickery and deception and given the “forever label” of “impeached president.”

But his now rich friends loved him so much, they forgave him his abuse. They were rich! And everybody in their party loved him. Thus Senators, Republican Senators, decided, “No biggie. You get a pass. See you tonight at the club!”

Hedging your presidential bets

Which meant Donald got was back in the fight of his life against Joe. He was scared. Very scared. He feared losing, like many of us do when faced with a tough battle ahead. The contender Donald announced before the fight, “If I win, and I will, it is because people love me and know I am doing a great job and want me to keep going — another eight years!” (Trump says he will ‘Negotiate’ Third Term Because he is ‘Entitled’ To It)

That was impossible, and not a mathematical mistake, but a desire. A “trial balloon” at a dictatorship option. Why not claim yourself as “president for life” if everybody who associates with you are “yes” men and women, and throngs are willing to risk their lives to see you in person in a Covid-spreader event? I might have said the same thing if people worshipped me like that.

After all, an inflated sense of self is likely what happens when you grow up rich, entitled, and have everyone around you saying how great you are. Because money makes us seem sexier and smarter and worthy of being able to tell poor White folks what is best for them: Him.

He even tells African Americans that we should vote for him because many of our urban schools and living conditions are awful (he kinda got that right). But this “casting his line for victims” leads him to rhetorically ask for our votes, because our life chances are so bad that, “What have you got to lose?” (Trump to Black Voters: What Do You Have To Lose?)

He goes further: “If I lose — it will be because Joe and the democrats will cheat. I’m telling you in advance. Because I might lose. Because I kinda know I’m not as authentic a White male as Poor Joe. White males will flock to him if we go at it. I will even lose some white females who might love his Scranton machismo!”

Donald was wrong about that. They didn’t. White females voted 53% for trump in 2016 and increased to 55% in 2020. (The 53 Percent Issue) Black men voted for Trump at an 18% clip. Looks like Black women hold the democrats up, again. (55% of White Women, 18% of Black Men voted for Donald Trump: Exit Poll)

He was on a roll. He was a savior from all they despised. (US Election Results 2020: Joe Biden Defeats Donald Trump to Win Presidency)

They are still tallying the final votes but looks like Joe did just what he said he would do: Whip Donald. He had uncommon support to flip “republican” states to “democrat” control from many, many Black people who identified with the guy who seemed like he was from the other side of the tracks, like them. Thank you, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee and Phoenix.

Take your whipping with pride

I understand the recounts and the confusing being sewn over voting and mail-in ballots and counters and observers. We are living in Covid-19 times, so we must get it right. Thank goodness for paper ballots. Easy to recount. We will be challenging every major election for the next 20–30 years, so best we stay with paper ballots to make any recount easier. Electronic ballots can be rigged or changed; I agree.

At some point in this fracas, we are hoping that Donald comes out of the house, admits he lost (we can see it from the bruises on his face/or Twitter page), shake hands, and agree that he can coexist with Joe and maybe even, dare I say, be friends. They are now tied together forever. Either they fight — or they both lose the machismo act and serve us, as they should. That is what we pay them for.

Taking your ball and going home can last until January 20, 2021. And then you have to leave the place you’ve called home for four years. A tough loss is hard to take.

I felt that when my Raiders lost to the Patriots in the Divisional round of the playoffs in 2001. I drove up highway 80 in California with no destination in mind, just a desire to get away from everything, like Forrest Gump did when he ran. I landed in a place called “Placerville,” ate pancakes and bacon, stared out the window, gathered myself, then vowed to never take one game so seriously again. I didn’t want to be a sore loser.

Sabotage is just another word for sore loser

If he loses his position of power, given my sports analogy about Donald above, sabotage is what we should expect from a man who has always had his way and is now angry and mean-spirited and is being forced to give up something he wants, but lost badly. He wants to win badly because he wants to stay out of jail; who can blame him? Well, I guess I can. And I am. I want him to be above the fray. Unfortunately, he is the fray.

Joe is well aware of the possible sabotage of his administration that is brewing.

But we are equally praying that on his escape out of the country. I’d probably jump bail to stay in a foreign country instead of jail, so I suspect Donald has given it a thought. Let us all pray that he does no more damage to our republic.

This is one time we are praying the rich kid does take his ball and walk away. Donald seems bent less on “marching off into oblivion,” rather angling to blowing up the entire gymnasium we call American democracy.

© 2020 by Dr. Vernon Andrews. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Andrews is an Oakland native and New Zealand citizen. His awesome new book is titled “Policing Black Athletes: Racial Disconnect in Sports” (NY: Peter Lang)

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