A little while ago a group put up a bunch of statues of Donald Trump in a variety of major cities in the US. The statues were a reasonable likeness, enough that nobody missed who they were aiming at, but they portrayed Trump naked and with a tiny penis and no balls.
A lot of people laughed at this, and mocked Trump.
Now I am all for mocking Trump - but shouldn't we mock him for the right things? If all we can muster for insults is 'I bet you have a tiny penis' then we are pretty much admitting that we have no substantive arguments whatsoever. Nobody but six year olds should resort to such things, especially when it is so easy to come up with real arguments as to why Trump's campaign is a catastrophe. Plus, when we make it clear that we are happy to judge a person's ability to lead on the size and shape of their body, aren't we striking back at some really important values?
Simply put, there are so many things we can say about Trump that are so damning, we really have no excuse for insulting him about trivial things. This is doubly true when we are insulting him in ways that we would be aghast at if things were flipped around. If Republicans were erecting statues of Hillary with tiny breasts and laughing at her lack of sex appeal, I would be incensed, and so would most of the people mocking Trump's statues. We should all hold ourselves to that standard no matter who the target is.
It isn't as though Trump has earned that respect or decorum. Heck, if anyone deserves it he does... but no one deserves it. When we make it clear that only people of a certain type of appearance are qualified, we fail any number of marginalized groups.
It isn't just about Trump. This has broader applications. When we campaign against something, we need to campaign against it on its merits or lack thereof, not with pointless ad hominem attacks. When we give up on our principles in favour of partisan shrieking, why would the other side bother engaging with us at all? Do we want to win hearts and minds, or just piss into the wind?
No question, it is hard to maintain decorum when insulting someone like Trump. But if we want people to listen to us, if we don't want to make the world a worse place, and if we want to actually reduce the entrenched tribalism that is so much a part of our politics we simply have to be better than this.