Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What Do I Tell My Kids? A Suggestion...


Just. Stop.

Stop emoting and let your right brain take a breather for a moment.

Better? Now read on…

Yes, the election is a shocker. You were misled by ALL of the polls. No one (apart from the Simpsons 16 years ago) could have predicted this to happen. Yet it did.

No, the world is not going to come to an end, though it may feel that way for some of you. There were even reports of the Canadian immigration site crashing as the election results were coming in.

Every four year, we have a new election for the President of the United States. Sometimes, it goes your way. Sometimes it doesn’t. And yet – every time the country has survived. You may not like the person, or the system, or the results. But the country survived (and if you are the anarchist type that was hoping to overthrow the government or something, maybe you *SHOULD* consider Canada. Or Libya. Or Iran. Or North Korea – I hear they have a great golf tournament there).

I saw that #WhatDoITellMyKids is trending on Twitter at the moment, and I thought I would share some things that you can share with your kids about this election and the American political system, without delving too deeply into more political rants and discourse:
  • There will be a woman President someday. She will be a person with honor, integrity, character and values. She will love our country, and do everything in her power to make it better. Hillary Clinton may not have won this election cycle, but she has proven that major parties can nominate and compete with a woman on the top of the ticket. Trailblazers such as Clinton (and Condoleezza Rice and others) have craved a path through a male dominated world for our daughters to follow and excel.
  • The powers of the Presidency are limited. Simply, there are limits to what the President can do, and those limits are a good thing. Many think that they get in the way of positive action, but just as often, they prevent totalitarianism. Yes, the President will be able to select his Cabinet, and he will oversee the bureaucracy. But those positions will still be held by those that know how to make the government run, and many will be those that were hired by the former President.
  • Congress acts a check and balance. One of the more bizarre consequences of this election is that few (if any) of those elected or reelected to Congress achieved this by riding the President-elect’s coat tails. Trump may have a unified Congress for the first couple of years, but none of these congressional leaders are beholden to him. Quite the contrary – there is probably more animosity between a President and the congressional leaders of his party than at any time in history. Point being – don’t think that Trump has a rubber stamp for any of his programs or ideas. Far from it.
  • Trump the TV personality vs. Trump the businessman. I don’t know how else to explain this other than like this: I believe (as do MANY others) that the Donald Trump that we have seen on the campaign trail is Donald Trump the TV celebrity, and that Donald Trump the businessman is a VERY different person. I can’t speak to whether this is true, and maybe the businessman is not really any better than the celebrity. Time will tell. But if you think that this campaign felt like one long reality TV show, maybe it is because it was. And Trump played a part specifically designed and molded for him by the public and the media. He played it so well that he won. Sure, it isn’t the Emmy that he wanted so badly for his TV show, but the perks for winning this contest are not too bad…
  • Trump was elected for a reason. Certainly, it was not because he was a stalwart Republican. Certainly it was not because of his great hair. I have read by many that it wasn’t that Trump won, but that Hillary did everything she could to lose. That may be true as well. But there is a current of dis-satisfaction with the “business as usual” approach to government and politics. Trump tapped in to this wellspring and the current carried him to victory. Republicans and Democrats need to stop and take notice – despite their best efforts to stop the stream and run business as usual campaigns, the message that Trump promoted (in between insults and horrible statements) was still the one that was the most important to voters. The people tried 8 years of “Hope and Change” under Obama, and have very little to show for it. They wanted an outsider to have a crack at it – someone that was against the business as usual, Washington establishment types. And that is who they elected – bad hair and all.
The right brain side of you is probably violently reacting again at this point, coming up with all of the counterpoints to things listed above. At the end of it all, the kind of person you are will undoubtedly shape what you tell your kids, and the tone in which you tell them. You can focus on the negative – which there was ample from both candidates – or you can focus on the smooth transition and the desire to affect change in a positive way in the future.

So my simple message for your kids is this:

I am proud to be an American, 
and will continue to work to shape the future elections 
for the benefit of all.