I prefer to stay blissfully apolitical — informed but never consumed. The truth is, even living off the first subway stop outside of Washington D.C., politics have never affected my household. As the Avett Brothers sing, and my wife and I enjoy quoting, “Your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected.” I can’t say that anymore.
And that’s why I’m writing this post.
When pre-school teachers asked my son who he was voting for on election Tuesday, he said, “Grandpa!” They then told him the name of the two candidates he could vote for. He came home that night saying, “I’m voting for Donald Trump.” Most likely, the president-elect’s name is just more memorable than Hillary Clinton’s.
We intervened. To imagine our son modelling his behavior or language after this man is intolerable. My wife explained that Mr. Trump is a bully.
“Like Flash Thompson?”
Flash is a character who bullies Peter Parker in the Spiderman stories my son reads.
“Yes! Just like Flash Thompson. He says mean things to people.”
“So, he’s a bad guy?”
“Yes. He’s a bad guy.” His logic was undeniable.
This morning, with the shocking results made official, my wife and I made a pact to not mention the words President Trump in the house, hoping we don’t have to explain how someone like Flash Thompson is our country’s role model of leadership.
On usual mornings, I let my children play in the yard as I pack up the car to take them to daycare and pre-school before I head out to work. We live in a diverse community. We are white. Our immediate neighbors are black, Muslim, and El Salvadorian.
This morning I had my kids wait at the door while I loaded up the car. A pair of young hispanic men walked by. I didn’t look them in the eye, knowing they were making assumptions about me, as I was making assumptions about them. I kept my kids inside because I felt the need to protect them.
These assumptions aren’t real. The fear of the thing is never real. But now there’s a problem. Trump’s candidacy and the fear which spurred it has been actualized. The fears of millions have become real. All Americans — no matter race or creed — are all wondering what else will be made real.
What upsets me as a parent is that I can’t control what my son will determine are his core values. And what upsets me most as an American is that nothing about this feels the least bit democratic.
There is always a silver lining. I hugged our hispanic day care providers and let them know I love them. I spoke to the neighbors I know on the block as well. There are conversations we the people must have. The issue of tolerance is now in our lap as a fight-or-flight instinct.
America has lived in a bubble for too long. We confirmed it electing a Christian president who flaunts a set of values that run so contrary to my family’s that my wife and I made a pact to avoid mentioning his name altogether.
The question that I can’t answer — the question that forced these keystrokes on the screen — is: what will happen when the bubble bursts?