When I was about 8 or 9, I was bullied ruthlessly in school by a boy in my class. I faked being sick so I wouldn’t have to go to school, but my parents figured out that something was going on and my father came in to talk to me. I confessed to him that I was scared of my tormentor, and what followed was a lesson in the beauty of ignoring another person. He explained that bullies crave attention and that if they are ignored, they sort of deflate. He then showed me how frustrating it is to feel like you’re invisible, by ignoring me when I tried to speak to him. It worked. I returned to school, I ignored the bully and he gave up his attacks on me.
Donald Trump is like the abusive boyfriend or ex-husband who won’t go away. In that situation, one would take out a restraining order, but obviously we can’t do that with Mr. Trump. So how about not making him the predominant news story? I have noticed, to be fair, that he is a little less predominant, but let’s face it, he is still everywhere in the news. I understand that announcing his candidacy for president is news. But does it have to be a front-page story? Does the end of his exile from Twitter have to dominate the day’s coverage? Does every move he makes, every ridiculous statement he utters, have to be reported?
With each news story, each segment on television, we are giving him the elixir that keeps him going — attention. There are plenty of things going on in the world that are more important than Donald Trump. We have a planet to save. Russia is still waging war on Ukraine, and still imprisoning American citizens like Brittney Griner. The West is running out of water. There are mass shootings so often it’s hard to keep track of them. Just to name a few really important issues.
What if there was a collective pledge among responsible news organizations to take Donald Trump off the front pages, to not talk about him every single day? He would huff and puff and try to blow the house down, but no one would be paying attention. Think of how much calmer the waters would be. Think of how many other stories would get the bandwidth they deserve.
It’s not easy ignoring someone who keeps barreling onto the world stage, determined to create chaos and eviscerate the democracy we depend on, but it is often the only remedy that will work. The person being ignored will find himself alone on a battlefield he created, with only his own voice bellowing around him. Linger on that image for a moment — Donald Trump all alone in the wilderness, with only his own voice to keep him company.
There was a very satisfying end to the story of my school bully. My parents insisted that I had to invite everyone in my class to my birthday party — I couldn’t be rude and leave him out. We had my birthday parties at our ranch and the entertainment was a man with a horse and a dog, who had trained the dog to ride on the horse and do other tricks. Then the kids would get a chance to ride the horse for a few moments. My former tormentor burst into tears and recoiled at the idea of getting on a horse. He was terrified, and everyone started laughing at him.
Every bully has something they’re scared of. Every bully has something that knocks them off their game and reveals the weaknesses they’ve worked so hard to hide. All the media has to do is turn away from Donald Trump and we will see who and what he truly is. Aren’t you at least curious?
Patti Davis, a daughter of President Ronald Reagan, is an author. Her most recent book is “Floating in the Deep End.”
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