Trump Won. What do I Tell my Children?
Trump won last night. I really thought it would never happen.
I can’t believe that the people of my country voted for him. I believed that the people of this country could not vote for a man who embraces the opposite of what this country is about. I am still trying to process it, trying to figure out for myself what happened and how to deal with it. And I have to deal with another aspect of this:
What do I tell my children?
How do I tell them that a man who has run on a platform of hate and fear, of sexism and racism, is going to be the leader of our country. How do I tell them that everything I have tried to teach them not to be, was embraced by a significant part of our country?
Our Beliefs can be Different
What do I tell them about a man I find morally repulsive?
I tell them we can have a leader with a different moral code than our own and still retain our beliefs. We can still believe in equality of the races and the genders. It is ok to say that your President doesn’t speak for you, that you find his words and actions wrong. It is ok to disagree with a person in power. It’s okay to have a difference of opinion with people, even if he is the President.
But it’s not ok to degrade or humiliate people you disagree with. And it is not ok to force your beliefs on someone else. It’s how we approach and discuss these differences that’s important.
We have a Great Democratic Process
I will tell them to believe in our government. I will remind them that although the democratic process didn’t work the way we wanted it to, it is still in place. That our government is built on a system of checks and balances to make sure no one person has too much control. That despite what Trump has espoused about single-handedly building a wall to keep Mexicans out and throwing all the Muslims out of the country, he cannot do it. He has to work with the rest of the people in our government to lead our country.
He cannot just throw their friends out of the country.
Fact is Still Fact
Trump lies, there is no question. I will definitely have a talk with my children about lying or “massaging” the truth. We will talk about how some people in power use lies or half-truths as a form of persuasion.
But there is something else that I find insidious in the Trump campaign. It is the brushing aside of facts that don’t fit with his beliefs or goals. Or denying facts because they are inconvenient for him. Or outright decrying scientific knowledge.
I will tell my children to make sure they educate themselves so they know the facts. I will teach them to question what people tell them, even if they are people in power.
We have Work to do
Despite the fact that I want to believe that a lot of people think like we do, they don’t. We have to recognize that a large part of our country voted for Trump. They are unhappy and they wanted changed, so they voted for it. And this means we have a lot of work to do.
Although I feel like the world has ended and I want to go back to bed and sleep through the next four years, I can’t. I have to tell my children that if we want our country to be a place where everyone can have equal rights, then we have to take the lead. We have to stand up now and dispel fear with facts. We have to work within our system to help those people who are so disenfranchised with our country that they just voted for the charlatan that told them what they wanted to hear. We have to work to remind them that helping others does not mean hurting yourself; it means a better country for everyone.
In the end I am going to tell them that it comes down to belief: Belief in ourselves and our country. Because despite the results, I still believe in us.
Photo courtesy of Ste Elmore.