The recent election of Donald Trump is nothing short of a national tragedy. Woefully unqualified and unabashedly bigoted, Trump and his cadre of right-wingers pose an existential threat to the very foundations of our democracy. As a father, I find the election of Donald Trump particularly disturbing. The idea of our sons and daughters growing up in Trump’s America makes me sick to my stomach. In times like these, how do we face our children when they come to us for answers? How do I explain Trump’s presidency to my son, who is so privileged that the election results cannot possibly have any impact on him whatsoever?
As much as we may like to tell our children that we live in a tolerant, progressive nation, the election results speak to a harsher reality. The fact is, this is a very scary time for anyone who’s a person of color, a woman, a member of the LGBT community, an immigrant, or a religious minority. My nine-year-old son Taylor is none of these things, and his mother and I have done quite well for ourselves. So how can I explain the election results to him? They are so far removed from anything he ever has experienced or will experience that I honestly think he’d just get confused.
Trump’s blatant racism, for instance, is so horrifying that even we adults may find it difficult to process. But what about our children? How do I look my son in the eye and tell him that we just elected a man who began his campaign by painting Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers? More specifically, how do I get my son to grasp this concept when he’s never interacted with a Mexican person who wasn’t mowing our lawn or cleaning our kitchen? And as for Trump’s shockingly fascistic plan to bar Muslims from entering the country, I’m at a loss for words there too. I don’t think my son even knows what Islam is. There certainly aren’t any Muslims at the J. Webster Preparatory Academy For Boys. You can see the predicament I’m in.
Leading researchers have told us that Trump’s presidency will be disastrous for the economy. Workers will lose their jobs; families will lose their homes. What do I say to my son when he asks me about this? As in, literally how can I possibly put this issue in terms that can be understood by someone whose idea of hard financial times is having to choose between two Dressage horses (as opposed to buying both of them and also a small island)? Guiding my son through this dark chapter in American history that will, as far as he’s concerned, be completely identical to every preceding chapter of American history, is sure to be the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do as a parent.
When it comes to women’s rights, the message we have sent by electing a man who brags about his tendency to “grab [women] by the pussy” without consent is truly shameful. It seems all I can do is pray that Taylor doesn’t grow up thinking it’s okay to follow our President’s example of how to treat women. Of course, if he ever does follow Trump’s example, my wife and I are more than equipped to provide him with the necessary legal counsel to get him out of trouble. We own an arena league football team, for Christ’s sake.
It’s times like these that truly define our character as a nation. I urge all of you to take a long, hard look at this country and think about the kind of society you want to leave for your children, even if your children are like Taylor, in which case society will probably be pretty awesome for them no matter what happens or who is President. As much as I would like to show Taylor the gravity of this situation, there’s only so much I can do before I have to accept that it will always lie behind his comprehension. That said, when our summer home in the Hamptons sinks into the Atlantic Ocean, he might figure it out.