“Daddy, who are you going to vote for?”
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this one. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to find a balance between getting political and keeping consistent with the point of this blog. My goal in this post is not to make a political statement as much as it is to talk through my thought process when it comes to discussing the current and unique Presidential Election with my daughters. Feel free to disagree with my political viewpoints if and as they creep out but as far as I’m concerned, my opinions are mine and you can have yours. There are plenty of places in the world where that isn’t allowed. This isn’t one of them.
Julianna and Chloe both know that we’re in election season. This is the first election where they are old enough to understand what The President of the United States represents, at least somewhat. They are aware of who the candidates are and hear people, at various places in their lives, talking about them.
“Daddy, I think you should vote for Hillary.”
When they’ve said that to me over the last few months, I used to tell them something I truly believe: “When you are old enough to vote, you are allowed to vote for whoever you think and feel is the right person for the job. Who I vote for is my choice and my business but I’m happy to talk about any candidate you’d like.”
For those who know me, I’m sure its obvious who I’m going to vote for. I’m sure many of us, at this stage, with this particular election, are the same way. That being said, I never ask. I still don’t truly know who my wife votes for. I have my guesses but I don’t ask. Its important to me that my daughters understand the beauty of the process and the value of what it means to live in a place where we can have a voice at all. I want them to ask questions and think beyond just emotional or skin deep reasons for liking or not liking someone. That goes for all of their interactions with people: in school, with friends, at camp, or if you’re running for President.
We try and teach them to be nice to others and to be open-minded. We try and teach them to be thoughtful and sensitive. We try an teach them to be giving and caring. I think its fair to say that we, and I mean all parents at this point, feel like we’re always looking for good role models in society for our kids to look up to.
The President of the United States. We should all be able to find some sort or respect for not only the position itself but for the person who holds that position for the next 4 or 8 years.
And then Donald Trump happened.
I work hard to not speak negatively about anyone, but I’m human. We all say things to our close friends or family that we probably wouldn’t say if different people were around; you know, locker room talk. That being said, around my kids, like I assume most parents do, I try to keep things positive, highlight the good stuff while being ok ackowledging that nobody is perfect. This has gotten incredibly difficult regarding Donald Trump.
I’m not sure where she got it from but recently Julianna asked me why Donald Trump lied when he said that President Obama was not born in the United States. I had a difficult time explaining this one without “going negative” so I tried to deflect and/or redirect or give a sort of vague answer like, “I’m not sure, but maybe he was just trying to get attention for himself.” They can relate to people who seek attention in silly ways, sort of like some of their classmates in the 2nd and 3rd grades.
I don’t want to get into the litany of offensive, hateful, or false statements Trump has made over the last year in this forum but as November 8th gets closer, and the spotlight gets brighter, and the magnifying glass gets stronger, I’ve dreaded the girls hearing any of it and having to explain it.
Now, for the record, I don’t think Hillary Clinton is close to perfect. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t see a tremendous amount of value for my kids in them growing up in a world where for the first time, a woman can be the President of the United States but to be fair, she’s not my ideal candidate. She doesn’t show the charisma I’d prefer in a President (see Obama). You could certainly make the case that she didn’t handle the Benghazi situation the way we would have liked or that you don’t like the Iran Nuclear deal that she was part of negotiating or the whole email scandal. You could make the case that you don’t agree with her political positions or she isn’t the kind of person who would be fun to sit and drink a beer with (George W. Bush). I’d happily have that debate. That part is healthy.
The debate ends, for me, when we aren’t talking about about political things at all. When the Access Hollywood video came out, there was more public outrage than we’ve seen for any of his other “loud” statements. Everyone is talking about it and I fear its just the beginning. I knew that at some point the girls are going to ask about this. How would I explain this one to them. Its worth noting that I think what he said is shameful, awful, terrible, embarrassing to men, embarrassing to locker rooms, embarrassing to Americans, and everything else. The fact that I have 2 daughters, a wife, a mother, a sister, a mother-in-law, grandmothers, a sister-in-law, a fiancé-in-law, 2 nieces, a plethora of aunts, a woman CEO at my company, and many friends who are women does not change or magnify the outrage. Its disgusting, just like all the other hateful, racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic statements that he’s been spewing for, well, it seems years.
Its just too much and has been for a long time. I have gotten to the point where I am no longer trying to soften the blow if they ask. I won’t go out of my way to bad mouth him and I try and avoid political conversations when the kids are around because I’d like for them to continue to believe that all people are generally good.
But the other day they asked about Donald Trump again. This reminds me that we’ve also had to have the conversation recently about the “clown hysteria.”
“Daddy, the boys at school said that there are clowns hiding in the woods trying to get kids to follow them so they can scare them.”
Well, that kind of scary clown is a little easier to explain away.
Political issues are certainly important and I have opinions on all that stuff but the reality is, the President does not create law or make sweeping changes alone. I wish that was all this particular election was about. Unfortunately, its not.
The girls will not vote in this election. They won’t vote for a President until 2028. When that time comes, I hope they can be part of that discussion for the right reasons and have an appreciation for how great this country already is. It won’t be because social security is “this,” foreign policy is “that,” or “this many” people have jobs, but rather because people care about each other; because we’re good.
So I’m sorry if this is ranty and all over the place or if this offends you in any way. I wish I had the answers. All I know is that when I look into my kids’ eyes, into their hearts, how could I ever show support for a person who has acted the way Donald Trump has? This goes far beyond political views for me. I wish it didn’t have to.
As a result, I choose my girls.
I’m for them. I’m with her.