Monday, November 21, 2016

How Do You Raise Your Daughter In Trump's United States


So we moved on and accepted that Trump is president elect (not king).

What now? We can't change the election. So what do we do? For this exercise, lets assume Trump's rhetoric stokes the fire of hatred in the country and his policy proposals are to 1) try to build a wall, 2) imprison Hillary Clinton, 3) deport Mexicans and 4) put Muslims internment camps. For the record, I think 1, 2 and 4 are never going to even get proposed, but lets say they do.

What do we do? We fight those proposals.

Democrats who have been deporting people at record numbers under Obama are going to have to object. Democrats who hated gridlock are going to have to be that gridlock for 2 years, after which structural realities of our politics mean that that Congress will likely fall to the Dems.

And they are going to have to work with Trump. Not every policy of his is bad. He was a Democrat for years and diverges from Republicans on a number of issues.

And we focus on the local. We raise good kids who are nice people. Kids who will grow up to reject this kind of nonesense. Because our future isn't with Trump, its with the kids. Nothing Trump does in his 4 years will have the kind of impact our kids will have.

Which reminds me of a quote from the movie Bad Moms that I'm going to paraphrase: We should be trying to raise nice kids. Our job as parents isn't to raise math geniuses or science whizzes. The reality is that if you when your kid is born, whether they Albert Einstein or a Rufus Dufus is already set. When you brag on Facebook about how your kid is so talented at math you aren't really saying how great a kid he/she is or how great a parent you are. What you are really saying is something like "we got really lucky with genetics." Or maybe "we got a really lucky roll of the dice."

Whether your kid can speak, or add, or do complex theoretical physics is a function of genes and luck. Pretty much every kid learns to speak. Whether they are poetic about it or not is a function of genetics. You can practice and practice and practice, drill and drill and drill, but no amount of work will make your kid Stephen Hawking or Robert Frost.

Nature chooses to bestow those gifts or it doesn't.

As a parent you can help draw it out, sure. But its not like if my parents had just tried a little harder, pushed me a little more, I could do theoretical physics.

I'm just not genetically able to.

But you can make your kid a good person. You can teach them what is right and wrong. To care about people (within reason). You can give them a frame work. You can make sure that the next person with charisma and the ability to impress a crowd with a speech isn't the type of person who makes blanket statements about people who don't look or think like them. The kind of person who won't say insane things simply to get power.

So what do we do? As adults, we fight the good fight, whatever you think that fight is. And as parents you raise good kids. Ones who are caring and insightful.

I'm not going to tell you how to do that. I'm not sure I can. I'm not sure anybody can. But I strongly believe that it starts with not being afraid. If we turn the election of a Donald Trump into a parade of hate, if we pretend his idea for a wall at the Mexican border is something odd and racist in and of itself* we only serve to make our kids afraid of different ideas and different people. If we teach our kids to that we should appreciate the unique thoughts and differences in people, but not those deplorable redneck idiots, we aren't doing our jobs. Replacing racism with xenophobia accomplishes nothing in real terms. And indeed, there is evidence that this country is more xenophobic than racist. Name calling and blanket statements are what must oppose and if that is goal, simply replacing one group with another won't move the ball forward.

That just replaces one type of fear for another.

That isn't the way forward.

* which it isn't, because again, we already have a wall, and a wall for which Hillary Clinton voted in favor. We should be able to have policy discussions about immigration and walls without it being racist.

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