I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, and LGBT advocacy.
A Future Voter
What We Try And Teach Vs What Kids Are Seeing
My 16-year-old daughter received a text message in the relatively early hours of November 4, 2020, from a friend of hers.
"It's disgusting," were the words my daughter saw on her screen.
This was around 6:30 or 7 am, so my oldest hadn't quite woken up. She was initially confused, but then realized that her friend was talking about the preliminary results from the United States election, held the previous day. Votes were, and still are, being tabulated, but the general consensus appears to be that this is not the runaway election for former Vice President Joe Biden's camp that some expected. In fact, as we now know, the race continues to be too tight to call.
What was my daughter's friend so disgusted about, you might ask?
Before I get into that, let me clarify something right off the top. I'm Canadian. I don't claim to understand how the United States voting process works, and I know neither Joe Biden or Donald Trump beyond what I've seen in the press. Now, understanding that both of these men - both of whom would qualify handily for the seniors' discount at any restaurant they might go to - are flawed human beings, and both have the potential for error, I'm not saying that either of these men are perfect.
I know, however, that both have been accused of varying degrees of inappropriate behavior with women, and that the behavior that Donald Trump has expressed about women previously is salacious and makes me want to hit something. If Biden has made inappropriate overtures to women as well, that doesn't please me either, but when a man - any man, not just those who run for public office - thinks its OK to just "grab them by the p---y" and openly discuss times where he's grabbed women and kissed them, that's a problem.
When a world leader chooses to separate families and have children separated from their parents and put behind what amounts to cages, that's a problem.
When a man hoping to be leader of their country mocks the disabled and then, upon taking office, strips rights from LGBTQ+ kids in schools, that's also a problem.
When a world leader effectively ignores the medical professionals that surround him during a press briefing to update his citizens about a pandemic and claims that the corner is being rounded when it so obviously is not, that's a problem.
Kids - future voters - are seeing this behavior, and they're also seeing just how many people voted in support of this behavior. Many I've spoken with in the two days since the election are dismayed, to say the least, that the race is as tight as it is, and I don't blame them.
As a parent and a teacher, I know I have tried to teach my own children and my students to do the right thing. I've tried to show them the importance of telling the truth, acting with integrity, and being honest. Now, I'm not saying that I've never seen a dishonest politician - that would be very naive - but we live in a world where everyone's behavior and conduct is on full display. Everything we say and do is potentially recorded through the written word, photos, or videos, and that's the world our kids live in today.
When they see how tight this current race for president is, they have questions, and to be honest, I can't blame them. How can a country be supportive of a man whose lies are so blatant and on social media for the world to see? We are two days post-election, and we have witnessed a man who is supposed to be conducting himself with some degree of decorum threatening to be less than gracious in what could be his impending defeat. His team has already launched lawsuits, demanding recounts in states that haven't even finished counting, and there are lawsuits pending to stop the counting of legally administered mail-in ballots.
Trump is acting essentially like the child on the playground who is annoyed with the other kids and has grabbed his ball to stomp away and sulk.
It's hard to explain to our kids why so many have endorsed and supported this behavior. The thing is, he could have had the most amazing policies on record, but his on-camera and in-print behavior has diminished his credibility, and kids are seeing that. Many are at the age now where they are within a year or two of being able to vote in the next election.
Do you honestly think they'd support behavior that would have them grounded as children?