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One of President Trump’s biggest selling points during the primary was that “he fights.” A number of Trump skeptics, on the other hand, were concerned that he wasn’t necessarily fighting for the right things, nor did he seem willing to fight within the rules. This was often defended by Trump supporters as “playing multidimensional chess,” but it has recently occurred to me that his fighting — particularly during the general election and since as the President — is something far more familiar to millions of people. Trump is a tank.
I don’t mean in the physical sense, but rather in the online gaming sense. Many multiplayer online games divide the players into a so-called “Holy Trinity” (no relation to Christianity): tanks who hold the enemy’s attention, healers who keep the tank going, and DPS (damage per second) who kill the enemy. This gives players easily grasped specialized roles and allows them to come together into groups where each member is vital to the success of the team.
The job of the DPS is simplest — kill the enemy. Depending on the game, this may be done with melee attacks in the back or ranged attacks from yards away, physical objects like swords, axes, knives, or arrows, or magical attacks with fire, ice, or shaman spells. Some games have DPS classes with pets or special abilities to incapacitate enemies to keep them out of the fight.
The biggest rule is simple: “don’t get aggro.” In non-gamer terms, that means that a DPS player should never get the attention of the enemy, because doing so risks getting killed and putting the team at risk. Depending on the game, a major secondary consideration is to avoid “standing in fire.” Said fire need not actually be fire, but any place where standing still will result in one’s eventual death.
Healers (aka Heals or Heelz) have an equally straightforward task — keep everyone alive. They have many different methods of restoring health to their team members, so their challenge is to restore health while not depleting their resources to heal (e.g. mana, skill points). Competent DPS avoid the aforementioned enemy aggro and bad stuff on the floor, leaving the healer free to focus on just one person — the tank.
The tank has the hardest job in game. They must know the enemy and fight intimately — not only where to fight and the enemy’s weak spots and repeated movements, but also how to keep their teammates safe from the enemy. They set the pace but can quickly find themselves dead if they pick more fights than their healer can deal with.
And this is where we get back to Trump. His tactics are classic tank tactics — rush into a situation, grab all the attention, taunting enemies when need be, and doing superficial damage that keeps all the attention on him. He has his “healers” — Fox News and his friends in the right-wing news and blogosphere who keep him feeling energetic for the fight. And following him quietly, hardly noticed by the mainstream press, are the DPS — millions of everyday Americans who are neither going to the movies nor watching the NFL. Mitch McConnell is quietly stacking the judiciary with conservatives, while Betsy Devos is undermining the liberal hold on education. Administrative rules are being simplified, and immigration laws are being enforced. The DPS are doing what they do best, unmolested because there’s a strong tank holding all the aggro.
I can’t say a “President as MMORPG tank” is the paradigm the founders intended or the best for our nation. But it does appear to be the one we have; so long as Trump has the aggro, let’s do some DPS.