Thursday, November 10, 2016

How You Explain Trump To Your Daughter

I've seen lots of posts about how you explain the election of Donald Trump to your daughter. I'm just not sure what all the anxiety is about.

I say this as a man who didn't like Trump, who didn't vote for Trump, whose wife probably didn't vote for Trump, and whose daughter cried when told "the girl" didn't win. All three of my kids voted for Hillary Clinton in their class' mock election.

So I write this not from the Trump Train in some gloating fashion but with honest and open eyes.

How do you explain this to your daughter? First, it might help if we stopped defining every single life event as if it was the apocalypse. Not every election is the "most important one of our generation," even though someone inevitably trots that out ever stinking year. How am I explaining it? Like I would any election. As this post from Popehat.com suggests: We move on. (Seriously, read the linked article, its awesome).

Elections are won and lost for lots of reasons. I'm firmly in the camp that believes this election was lost when Clinton put half of Trump's voters in a "basket of deplorables." You can argue the truth there. Some of his supporters are certainly racist. He appears to be a misogynist. No matter. You aren't likely to rally voters to your cause by calling his names. And worst, and what I think happened, is that she gave them a badge of honor and fired them up. Its why you see the high rural area turnout. The left prides itself on empathy, but all too often its an in-group empathy. One that feels only for certain poor people, focusing on inner-city poor while mocking  the rural poor. Its how you get people who would never permit name calling in other situations referring to a group as "uneducated red necks."

Coupled with low turnout for her and there you have it folks: President-Elect Trump.

That is a lot for a five-year-old to take in. I realize that. But its reality. Sometimes good people do bad things with the best intentions. Sometimes bad people do good things. Electing Hillary Clinton, who appears in her actions and need for secrecy to share lots with another former president: Richard Nixon, was no promise things would be delightful. Thomas Jefferson, arguably one of the greatest thinkers and founding fathers (and my favorite) held slaves while arguing passionately about the immorality of that practice. The same Dems who loved Bill Clinton now often blame many of his policies for the economic collapse.

But this isn't bad policy. We are talking illegal and immoral here, aren't we. Well, arguably, at best, only two of our last 5 presidents hasn't done something pretty awful on that point either. Bush II arguably lied about the need to invade Iraq. Clinton had his assorted scandals, assaults and alleged rape. Reagan had the Iran-Contra issue. Bush I comes off relatively clean, I suppose. He did have Dan Quale as VP. Obama has Syria and Lybia. You can put them in the "pretty awful" category, and they both are, but I'm not sure they rise to the level of the other scandals; all those are borderline illegal or violate the constitutional. It wasn't so long ago that we were locking up U.S. citizens in concentration camps based on their nationality during WWII.

So yes, we elected Trump; Trump the Democrat who was friends with the Clintons until he was a Republican nominee who wanted to lock her up, until he was President-Elect Trump who said we owed her a great debt for her service. Maybe he will work out, maybe he won't. Personally I think its 60-40 that he won't. But we have had awful people do awful things as president before and survived. You don't have to like the president the person. You don't even have to like him to recognize the good things he or (someday soon) she, does. We are still the country that elected Barak Obama not once but twice.

On last note that might help you explain: We have a very strong system. A system designed to weather these storms and one that has weathered worst in the past. If you think the country or life is over because we elected Trump Tuesday, then you really don't believe in that system, you believe in the cult of personality of the presidency.

So, dear Sadie, or Judy, or Emily, I may think Trump is not a nice man, but that doesn't mean he won't be a good president, or do good things. He won't do anything to you. And I know its confusing, but sometimes good people do bad things and bad people do good things. Its one reason why you can't be quick to judge people.

You celebrate the good and you fight the bad and that doesn't change regardless of who we elect. And always remember, the good old days weren't always good, and tomorrow isn't as bad as it seems.

4 comments:

  1. "But we have had awful people do awful things as president before and survived."

    Yes, the country as a whole has survived. However, it could also be said that Germany survived having Hitler as a ruler and the Japanese survived being put in "internment" camps during WWII. Except for all the people who didn't survive that. And the families that were broken up and the lives that were horribly disrupted by being taken from their homes to be put into camps.

    But I'm sure Muslims don't have anything to worry about, even if the registry previous broke up families by only sending males home.
    http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/11/16/13649764/trump-muslim-register-database

    But I suppose your daughter doesn't have to worry about that. And yes, the US will likely survive it. And yes, it might not be as bad as it seems from this side of history. And yes, the government has a system of checks and balances to keep terrible things from happening. But unfortunately as the Japanese internment camps shows, sometimes they happen anyway. (I won't even touch EVERYTHING involving the native people.)

    Maybe it'll be good to have all of this out in the open and shoved into the light, but I think simply saying "we'll survive" makes it too easy to turn a blind eye on the bad things that can happen. Although obviously this isn't something you'd bring up to your wee one, I just voice caution in spreading the mentality of "it's going to be fine, we've always survived so far" too much.

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    1. **It should say "Japanese Americans / Americans of Japanese descent" rather than Japanese**

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  2. I'm going to say that everything I type below, and everything in the original post, includes my knowledge that most of the worst of what Trump said doesn't apply to me. It would be easy as a hetero white male to brush off misogyny, sexism, and racism. I get that.

    I hope my post didn't appear to reject individual concerns. I get that some individuals are scared. Probably rightfully so.

    I was shocked at the result. I went to bed a little uneasy and woke with a pit in my stomach.

    Maybe it didn't come across, but the post was aimed more at the "end of our country" and "end of our democracy" panic crowd. That was part of the whole line about: "If you think the country or life is over because we elected Trump Tuesday, then you really don't believe in that system, you believe in the cult of personality of the presidency.

    You fight the policies as they come.

    Clinton wasn't an angelic figure, she was a human who has also done and said awful things. Trump has said worse things, its true. But you fight the individual policy and individual actions. Trump has been pro-gay rights longer than Hillary Clinton, for instance. I get that there are like probably 100 reasons why it was easier for Trump than Clinton, and that Clinton may have been hiding her true preference all those years, but the fact remains. People get all worked up over Trump's wall like we don't already have a wall that Hillary voted for. Trump wanting a bigger wall isn't a big deal to me (his idiotic and racist comments about the need for a wall aside).

    I guess that was what I was saying when I said "move on." Lets focus on the battles before us, not that some less-worse-in-some-ways candidate lost.

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  3. I wonder too, if as a frequent third-party voter who is often faced with two candidates who will do things I find to repugnant, or at the very least to be bad policy, if I'm not somewhat insulated.

    If your choice is racist Trump and his awful policies or not racist Hillary Clinton and her love all things good, her loss stings. If your choice is racist Trump and his awful policies or less awful Hillary Clinton and her different set of awful policies, maybe the loss is more like every other day.

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