So we just finished with an election which proved to be very historic but not for the reason everyone had originally supposed. You know the details.
My husband and I (dyed-in-the-wool Republicans but not Trump fans) were stunned when we started to see what was happening on the screen as Donald Trump’s numbers went up. As our reactions became more and more flabbergasted, so did the panic level in my kids. And why were they panicking? Because we had been telling them all along that if Donald Trump won it would basically mean the End of the World. But that had been just a joke, because someone as brash as Donald Trump would never win!
But now he was winning, and each time a new red state popped up on the screen my son went to his knees saying, “Hurry, Jesus!”
When we discovered in the morning that it was really, truly so–that Trump really was going to be the new president–we had to regroup. Instead of making jokes about bunkers and moving to Canada we told our kids what we should have been teaching them all along. Specifically, that
- There are three branches of the government. The president is only one branch.
- There are checks and balances.
- A president can’t even be the president for more than 8 years…and if he does a really lousy job he’ll only be president for half of that time, and if he breaks the law than he will be president for even less time than that. It is called impeachment.
- America has survived many presidents. Some of them were not so great. Some of them turned out better than expected.
- The president should be treated with respect, no matter who he or she is.
- The president does not have as much power to make a difference in your world as you do.
When a very young child falls and scrapes their knee they will first look for the reaction in their parent’s face. What they want to know is “Should I cry?” If the parent is fearful the child will react with tears. If the parent is encouraging, the child will stand up, give a shaky laugh, and move on.
After school my kids came home and one of my daughters said, “I’m glad Hillary Clinton didn’t win. Because now I can become the first female president!”
I was proud of her. But there are a zillion other ways she can make an impact on the world that are more powerful than being the President of the United States.