We interrupt our regular outdoor adventure-oriented programming to bring you this special message that I can’t get out of my head.
This is the first time that I’ve been a mother when a new president is elected and I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what that means. I have thought about what life would be like for my children if Ted Cruz or Hillary Clinton became our next president. I’ve thought through Rubio and Bernie taking office. I’ve thought about the impact for my children on their finances, their health care, their future families. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I thought mostly about what it would mean for them if Donald Trump wins.
If anything will make you more political, it’s becoming a parent. Suddenly you aren’t just invested in decisions about your own life. You’re worried about a whole generation from now.
When I began to think about what a Trump presidency would look like for my children and the direct impact it would have on them personally, I had a lot of trouble pinpointing exactly why the idea made me feel so fearful.
Was it environmental issues? Trump maintains that the Keystone Pipeline would have “no impact on the environment,” and calls global warming “an expensive hoax,” but I know that the science says differently. Even so, how will Trump’s stance on climate change impact my boys personally? Will they live long enough to see the effects? I don’t know. So why I am so worried?
What about religious freedom? We aren’t Muslim and we live in an area where my children don’t have much exposure to diversity. Trump’s suggested requirement that all Muslims register with a national database won’t affect us directly and likely won’t even affect any of my children’s friends. But still, it feels so deeply uncomfortable. It isn’t right. But it it isn’t us. So why am I so worried?
How about immigration policy? My in-laws are both immigrants but they are from wealthy European countries. They aren’t the people who Trump is talking about when he refers to “people who shouldn’t be in our country.” And of course I don’t have to worry about the immigration policy when it comes to my kids. They are already Americans. So why am I so worried?
It must be women’s rights. It must be about a woman’s right to make decisions about her body, and contraception and family leave. I have boys, but maybe someday my boys will grow up and have families of their own. But still, I suspect that if they someday have wives, it will be not them but their wives who are impacted the most. Of course I hope my boys will stand up for their family and support them however possible, but these are women’s issues and I have boys. So why am I so worried?
It almost seems like my boys have nothing to worry about. I mean, I can’t expect my boys to ever fully empathize with the stance of the under privileged when they themselves live a life built on privilege, as white males in a white male country.
And just like that I know why I’m so worried, and it’s actually terrifying. My children are white. They are middle class. They are boys. They don’t have to worry about choices being made about their bodies. They don’t have to worry about finding a job that will pay them fairly. They don’t have to worry about getting pulled over for no reason or held at an airport, not allowed on a flight. They don’t have to worry about so many things and to think that they don’t have to worry about a Trump presidency just perpetuates a vicious cycle of white, male privilege.
We need a president who does worry about these things because if the president doesn’t, then who will? Why should my little boys care when even the president doesn’t? How can I teach them to be better than the president of our own country? That’s why I’m so worried.
My boys are in the midst of their formative years, and the possibility exists that they could spend almost their entire childhood growing up in a Trump presidency. By the time back-to-back terms were over, my boys would be 11 and 12. And what will they have learned?
They will have learned that as men, they have the option to take away a woman’s right to choose. They will have learned that being white means they can live where they want without worrying about carrying a special ID or being stopped by the police for no reason at all. They will have learned that as Americans they can expect to travel the world freely, though here in America we restrict the movements of others based on race and religion. They will have learned that boys like them are born to rule our country. That’s why I’m so worried.
Do we want our future leaders raised to expect privilege based not on merit but on race, religion and sex? That’s why I’m so worried.
And that doesn’t even touch on what they will learn from Trump as a role model. Can they get what they want by bullying their opponents? Can they offer insults in lieu of answers when a tough question is asked of them? Can they come out swinging instead of asking for help when they’re down? These seem to be the tools necessary to get to the top. That’s why I’m so worried.
Every parent wants to raise a child who recognizes the needs of others and responds to them in kind. We foster empathy and compassion. We encourage our kids to make good choices, share and help others. Why shouldn’t we expect a president who can do the same?