You’ve seen the ad. Children of varied ages and backgrounds, innocent eyes fixed intently on the television screen at Donald Trump. Trump, a man running for President of the United States of America. A man who received more votes during the Republican Primary than any other candidate has in the history of the Republican Party. A man, who should he win this election will represent our people, our values, and our choices.
As the children gaze on, Trump speaks about the “old days” when physical violence was the answer to peaceful protest and jokes that he can “shoot somebody and not lose voters.” He attributes Megyn Kelly’s scrutiny during debate moderating to her menstrual cycle. He pontificates that Mexican people are rapists bringing drugs and crime over our border. The nail in the coffin, or the icing on the proverbial cake if you prefer a sarcastic idiom like I do, is when Trump mocks respected New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski for his physical disability. He makes all these statements proudly, while our children are watching.
Trump supporters may say these video clips are taken out of context or that much was said in hyperbole and jest. They may opine those who do not appreciate Trump’s bluntness are just cogs in the Politically Correct Feelings Machine. Those who do not smirk or laugh at his proclamations must lack a sense of humor. I will be a saturnine observer; no smile will split my lips while listening to insufferable ignorance. I will make a point to defy these actions vehemently, because my children are watching.
Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President of the United States mere days after I gave birth to my twins. Laying in a hospital bed, newborn coos and cries filling the air, watching a celebrity who I listened to on The Howard Stern Show, and believed to be a Democrat until his steep descent into birther conspiracy theory, proudly vow to “Make America Great Again.”
I will admit I did not give Trump’s campaign much credence. After all, he was running for a nomination from the Grand Old Party, led by the religious right. Surely, Senator Marco Rubio, would best Trump. Evangelicals would rally behind, Senator Ted Cruz, a man whose religious convictions guide his political career. The party of Senator Paul Ryan and “family values”, without question, would not support a man who has had 3 marriages, 2 high profile divorces, infidelity scandals, and unleashes a constant barrage of crude statements, specifically towards women. How wrong I was! Even Golden Boy Rubio turned Golden Goose in Trump’s wake.
During the first months after my children’s birth I moved through a euphoric, yet depleted haze. There were long nights without sleep and days that turned into weeks. Throughout that time, a steady stream of news reports and sound bites bombarded my television screen. Trump’s statements got more egregious, his temperament more erratic as the days past. On July 21, 2016, a little over a year from the day of my children’s birth, a year where my heart was full of love for these new little humans in my life and my ears filled with racist, misogynistic, hateful diatribes, Donald Trump accepted the Republican Nomination for President of the United States of America.
Many children look up to the President of the United States as a personification of America’s strength and patriotism. The President is a superhero who was exalted by the American people. Though they may draw biases from their parents’ leanings, the dignity of the position itself remains unwavering. We are faced with the possibility that a man who fans the flames of division and hate will corrupt the prestigious position of President.
Now is the time that our children will watch us. We will show them that “old times” of physical violence towards those that disagree with us are where we have been, but not where we are going. They will watch us as we rebuke glib statements about gun violence because we know too many have suffered loss by bullets. Our children will watch us as we refuse to define a person by their sex or gender. While they are watching, we will show them that Xenophobia does nothing but close us off from the vast beauty of our varied experiences. They will watch as we honor that our country has been built by immigrants, by recognizing their continued value in our society.
Above all our children will watch us and see our reverence for humankind regardless of race, religion, ability or disability, sex, gender, or politics. Our children are watching and we have something to prove.