Donald Trump is going to be our next President. We live in a country where there’s something called Democracy. Not every country gets to have this. The idea is that once you get to be 18, you get a chance to vote for the things that are important to you. Sometimes the vote goes in your favor, sometimes it doesn’t. We are very lucky to live in a place where we get to participate.
That was from a post I wrote 4 years ago on November 9th, 2016, called SPARK.
It was the day after the election and I was feeling quite disheartened but maintained most of my normal, and probably occasionally annoying, hopeless optimism.
I’m a Bright-Sider.
Julianna was 8 and Chloe was 7.
November 7th, 2020, is the day when the next presidential election was called and there is a new President-Elect.
Julianna is 12 and Chloe is 11.
I have struggled for the last few days about how to write this. While it has not been certain, the outcome has gained clarity and finally the major networks (all of them) have finally felt comfortable with their predictions. I try not to put my political views on this blog or in the faces of others and will try to walk some sort of line here. My goal is not to get anyone upset. I am not gloating or rubbing salt in wounds.
I will try and reflect on what I believe 45 has meant to my children and what I hope 46 and beyond will mean to them in the future. I suspect (and hope) that we are all doing that for the sake of our loved ones.
I am a democrat but this is not about Democrats vs Republicans; not about the ideology of each party. I have never had any problem with healthy and respectful debate about the size of the federal government or who should be taxed or what our foreign policy should be. I don’t have a problem with healthy and respectful debate about your beliefs on climate change, health care, or same-sex marriage. I don’t have a problem with healthy and respectful debate on anything. That is what Democracy is. The ability to discuss those things, and so much more, is what makes me proud to be a citizen of a democratic country; proud to be an American.
4 years ago I was proud to be an American even though the outcome of the election was not the outcome I wanted or voted for, simply because I was able to vote.
In that post, 4 years ago, I went on to say the following:
I told them (Juliana and Chloe) that I want to believe that all the mean things that Donald Trump said in this process (the run-up to the election) were choices he made because he thought that was his best chance to win but that deep down, maybe he wasn’t actually a bad person. I said that in any game I’ve ever played, win or lose, I try to be a good sport and be respectful of my opponent; that had I been running for President (maybe next time), I’d like to think that I wouldn’t handle myself the way he did and I’d like to think that they wouldn’t either. All of that being said, I told them that the race is over and that Donald Trump, whether we had wanted it or not, is going to be our next President and its our jobs, as Americans, to respect the process, respect the office, and do what we can to work together, in whatever ways we are able, to make sure good things happen for people. We are all better when we’re all better.
I tried. I really did. While it has been difficult to pretend for the girls that many of the things that Donald Trump said and did during the last 4 years didn’t happen, with the girls, my wife and I have always tried to maintain a higher level of decency than he was willing to show. We have tried to always be respectful of the office of the President and the presidency itself.
When I encounter or observe people who Julianna and Chloe are also exposed to, I find myself thinking about what kind of influence they might have on them. This happens with local people, TikTok “influencers”, tv and movie stars, and celebrities in general. Is that person a good role model for my children?
I had taken President of the United States for granted in this consideration but in these 4 years that has unfortunately changed.
Again, I am not speaking from a political perspective but rather as the father of 2 pre-teen girls who for the time being, still has a lot influence on their growth and environment.
This has been my struggle:
How do I rationalize, to my daughters, whatever ends you believe in being justified by any means?
I want the President of the United States, and all our leaders, both political and otherwise, to be people my daughters respect, not because the “title” requires it, but rather that the person earns it. Respecting them doesn’t mean that they have to agree with every decision or every policy.
Political policies aside: Donald Trump went out of his way to alienate and attack anyone who didn’t show him undying support no matter what. His public displays of animosity towards anyone who disagreed with him, didn’t tow his line, or dared to ask reasonable questions, were all examples of the the kind of leader and leadership I would never want my daughters to emulate.
I don’t think George W. Bush was a great president for our country but I never remember feeling like I was questioning my respect for him or of the office. No matter which political party you are affiliated with, you are likely to feel the same way about one president or another and I think that’s the beauty of a democracy.
Morals and ethics transcend policy for me in my role as a father to Julianna and Chloe. That’s the choice I made at the beginning. I don’t prescribe or judge the choices you make with your kids. I only think I know the right answer for me and would certainly not presume to know the right answer for you. Time will tell.
During a car ride last night with Julianna and Chloe, I told them that I wanted them to have a life filled with fun. I wanted for them to have everything they ever wanted or needed; that I would always do everything I could to help them get all of that and more but I would not and could not sacrifice the process of working to get there.
When they grow up they will inevitably have various managers, leaders, and partners who they have to work with. They will likely take on their own leadership responsibility at some point. The both certainly have it in their respective personalities.
When those opportunities come, they will likely do what I and I’m sure many others have done: reflect on and learn from the leaders they have experienced and figure out their own style and approach.
I want them to lead selflessly with humility, dignity, and grace.
I want them to show respect to everyone, especially those who disagree with them.
I want them to listen more than they speak, not just to the words of the people around them but to the moods and feelings of those people.
I want them to appreciate others for who they are and for what they believe.
I want them to work together, with everyone, to make the world, however big or small their version of it is, better.
I don’t always get what I want but I’m certainly going to try.
They know, I hope, that no matter what their political affiliation is…no matter what…my love for them is irrefutable and unconditional. That love requires no work.
The rest does.
If this election proved one thing it is that the people in this country are divided. We are not defined by that division though. We are defined by how we deal with it.
4 years ago I ended the post with something that I meant then and still mean now:
Now is the time to take off the boxing gloves and put on the work gloves.
Time for us to work together, with open minds and open hearts, and move forward.
Our kids deserve at least that much right?