The President of the United States!
How many of you had that thought growing up? Maybe one of your siblings would say this ALL THE TIME (so annoying…) and you would just roll your eyes. Maybe there was a kid in your 3rd grade class that had an early penchant for leadership and would talk about how he (or she) would be in charge of the whole country some day. Maybe your parents told you that you should dream about being the President. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to be the mother of the President? Quite an honor indeed.
But now we have a President-Elect Donald Trump. His actions and words during the campaign have made it abundantly clear that he is NOT a person we want our children to aspire to. It’s one thing to want your child to be a successful business person, and it’s completely normal to want your kids to be economically well-of in the future. But it’s another thing to say that you want your child to star in porn movies, be married three times, and spout off about racist, anti-woman, and anti-American ideas.
The President of the United States of America has always been a respected position and a common aspiration. The men holding this office have done great things. George Washington was the general won the American Revolution, Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, Roosevelt led us out of the Great Depression, Jimmy Carter helped rescue the Iranian hostages, George W. Bush had to get us through 9/11, and Obama ushered in ground-breaking health insurance reforms. Even though all our presidents have had diverse beliefs and political affiliations, they had one thing in common: They all had a history of public service. Some were generals, lawyers, some were respectable businessmen, and a few had more humble titles like “peanut farmer”, and “community organizer”. All of these men had the common goal of wanting to lead the country on a path to greatness. While greatness may not be fully achieved yet, I argue that we are well on the way there. The point is that these men were leaders. Someone you could look up to. Someone who would act with dignity and respect. Someone who would be gracious, kind, funny, classy, educated, and principled.
I can say with confidence, Donald Trump is none of these things. In fact, is the exact opposite of many of these qualities. Donald Trump is not a leader, nor is he someone who I want my children to look up to. He has certainly not acted with dignity and respect during this campaign, and he has never been gracious, kind, funny, classy, educated, or principled. He is crude, crass, demeaning and a bully. He has made it clear throughout his entire career that he will let no one or nothing stop him in his quest to be a “winner.” He will take out anything and anyone who gets in his way. These actions are certainly not something that I want my children to emulate.
So how do we reconcile the fact that the most respected office in our country is now held by someone who we don’t want our children to be like? When we encourage a child to become a leader, they are going to look to the only leader they know: the President. And they are going to see Donald Trump. A self-described sexual predator who furthered racist and false claims about Barack Obama’s place of birth and who wants to ban Muslims from this country and round-up Mexicans and send them back across the border. A man who has had three wives and who doesn’t think its necessary to pay people who do work for him. A man who hurls personal insults at not only beauty pageant winners, but also journalists and nominees of the political party he is opposed to.
The answer is that we can’t reconcile these two sides of the coin: the idea that the President is someone to look up to, and the fact that a truly despicable man is now going to sit in the Oval Office. The only thing I can say about this at this point is that we are going to have to point our children in the direction of actual positive role models in their lives. Demonstrate that there are actual good leaders in our government, leaders that in our Senate, our House of Representatives, our state houses, our Scout leaders, coaches, and teachers. We are going to have to teach them to emulate the positive leaders in their lives, not the negative ones. We are going to have to explain to them that the President of the United States is a man with many negative qualities, but unfortunately, so many people agreed with his stances that he was elected to lead our country. When we don’t agree with our leaders, we have to strive to be like the positive leaders in our lives and work to exact change.
So, unfortunately there will be many of us who are going to have to tell our children, “No son, you definitely do not want to be like the President we just elected.” This is going to be difficult. I hope that you will be able to find the words and guidance to get you through the difficult situation of having to explain this Presidency to your children. I hope that after the next four years we can elect a President of the United States that acts with dignity and respect to all people and a President that will uphold positive leadership qualities that can be an example for us all to strive for.
I hope. I hope. I hope….
I know he did more than this. Lincoln’s accomplishments and achievements in the midst of so much turmoil are too nuanced to go into much detail here. Maybe another day!