Controversial new President presents challenge to parents, educators
EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s alone and do not represent the views of the Lamplighter, the Cooper-Young Community Association, its members, staff, sponsors, or any other affiliated persons and organizations. The author has been a trusted and valued contributor to this paper for many years, and we decided to run this column after we determined it was wholly consistent with the his long-standing mission of raising awareness to issues related to child-rearing.
By Dr. D. Jackson Maxwell
et me get my disclaimers in right at first: I did not support Donald Trump for president. I did not vote for him. In truth, I was not overly thrilled about either of the final candidates, but I did my civic duty and voted as I have done in every election for the past 30-plus years. While not happy about it, I accepted the election results as a part of living in America’s version of a democracy.
After about the first 100 days, here is my opinion and associated musings on the challenges I am facing as a parent and educator in President Trump’s America.
Trump seems to me to be a character from days gone by, a throwback to when I was a child growing up and listening to what my parents’ generation had to say about women, race, and the state of our country. The same bigoted views on minorities and women expressed by Archie Bunker on “All in the Family” that my parents and their friends would nod and agree with—never quite getting the irony and sarcasm that Norman Lear had written into the character. While I have gotten older and developed my own opinions (most of which are the polar opposite of what I heard as a child), there are obviously enough Americans who felt differently and, for their own reasons, pulled the lever for Donald Trump in November. So be it in our democracy.
What is continuing to trouble me about our electoral decision is its impact on children. For example, what effect are President Trump’s sexist words and alleged assaults having on my children and the students I teach? How do I explain to my 13-year old daughter that the president, a supposed role model, has bragged that it is okay to grab a woman by her genitals if you have enough money? Or that it is fine to make fun of and mock those with disabilities? Our president’s labeling of a nation as consisting mostly of a bunch of murderers and rapists who we need to wall out is particularly troubling. Or as for my 17-year-old son, that it is okay to call females fat pigs, dogs, ugly or nasty women? How do I explain to the children at my school that under our current leadership, government policy appears to target people of certain religious beliefs or nationalities to be denied entry into our country? Plus, it is acceptable to contemplate throwing out dreamer children who were born in America but are considered illegal due to their parent’s lack of citizenship?
On the other side of the coin, for better or worse, President Trump is a man of his word. He is making plans to build his wall on Mexico-United States border. Through his repeated executive orders, he is living up to his campaign promise of curbing immigration and kicking out illegal aliens he deems as undesirables.
The Affordable Care Act is also being dismantled by executive orders. He has installed people in key cabinet and upper-level government positions that look and think like him. Old, Caucasian rich men fill many, if not most, of the top government posts—those very same souls of my parents’ generation and sharing many of their beliefs. Finally and perhaps most dangerously, Trump has repeatedly stated in interviews, he prides himself on relying more on intuition rather than experience and, apparently, facts in making his decisions.
My teenage son regularly tells me that I am over reacting. President Trump will not blow up the world. He will not take away all of my rights. The sun will still come up tomorrow. Trump will not make life worse for those less fortunate than himself. Others my age remind me that as baby boomers we have lived through even more tumultuous times during riots, bombings, war protests, beatings, civil rights protests, and the Cold War era tensions of the 1960s-1970s. I hope my son and friends are right.
That said, it appears to me the Age of Reason is past. We, as citizens of a Trump-led America, are moving into the Age of Intuition and Feel no longer bound by moral limits or accepted facts. We are, as President Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway informed us, living in a new time of “alternative facts.” A Trump perceived, alternative reality that exists outside of what observation, reason, and scientific fact tell us. So I ask, how do I explain this strange new world to the kids?
Dr. Maxwell is an educator, parent, and freelance writer. If you have questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.