(Credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr Creative Commons)
We recently celebrated my youngest daughter’s first birthday and are getting ready to celebrate my oldest daughter’s third birthday this weekend.
Between birthday cake, my eldest daughter’s first encounter with the joys of Halloween candy, and the obligatory trip to the bouncy house, it’s been a fun and exciting time for them lately.
But I’m worried about their future.
The thought of them growing up – and being shaped – by Donald Trump’s version of America absolutely terrifies and sickens me.
Not because he’s a Republican.
But because of the ideology, fear, and horrific ethics he’s spent the past year embodying and sanctifying on the campaign trail.
In Donald Trump’s misogynistic version of America, women are little more than sexual objects to be groped at will. I want my daughters to see themselves are more than just a “piece of ass.”
In Donald Trump’s America, the disabled are people to be mocked and ridiculed. I want my daughters to see their disabled neighbors as equals deserving of their love and respect.
In Donald Trump’s America, immigrants are a threat to everything we hold dear. I want my daughters to value diversity and celebrate the opportunity to experience cultures different than their own.
In Donald Trump’s America, there is no bigger threat to the safety and well-being our society than Muslims. I want my daughters to get to know and befriend actual Muslims so that they may come to see the hospitality, kindness, and peace that truly defines Islam.
In Donald Trump’s America, critics are enemies that must be shamed, ridiculed, and denounced at the slightest whiff of dissent. I want my daughters to have thick skin and learn to value the feedback of their critics so that they may continually improve in whatever it is they choose to do.
In Donald Trump’s America, lying is a way of life. Facts be damned. All that matters is you believe something to be true and it is so long as you can shout louder than the person on the other side of the aisle. I want my daughters to follow the facts and value the truth even when it makes them uncomfortable or proves them wrong.
In Donald Trump’s America, everything is defined by fear and how that fear – both real and imagined – can be combated no matter the cost. I want my daughters to rise above their fear and not allow themselves to be shackled by it so that they can experience all the joy, diversity, and wonderful experiences this world has to offer.
In Donald Trump’s America, there is little if any compassion for those who suffer. I want my daughters to have a heart for those in pain, to stand beside their neighbors when they suffer, offering them the love, compassion, presence, and grace they need and deserve.
In Donald Trump’s America, being a bully is not only ok, it’s something to be celebrated as a sign of machismo and power. I want my daughters to stand up to bullies and stand between them and those they try to push around.
In Donald Trump’s America, vulgarity is a virtue of those who “tell it like it is.” I want my daughters to speak with respect, intelligence, and grace.
In Donald Trump’s America, there is no place for humility. It’s a weakness that must be extinguished on the path to greatness. I want my daughters to be known for their humility and the grace-filled way they treat their neighbors.
In Donald Trump’s America, minorities are an afterthought with no agency of their own and no reason to complain. I want my daughters to go out of their way to get to know those different from themselves, learn from them, hear their pain, and celebrate all they have offered and continue to offer this great country of ours.
In Donald Trump’s America, there is no obligation to keep your word and honor your commitments. I want my daughters to be known for their integrity in all things.
In Donald Trump’s America, violence isn’t taken seriously. Have a problem with somebody? Punch them in the face or better yet, nuke ’em and be done with them forever. I want my daughters to take the consequences of violence seriously and view it as an act of absolute last resort, if not an act to be avoided altogether.
In Donald Trump’s America, there are few greater sins than that of compromise. I want my daughters to understand that our country was built on compromise and that democracy requires it to function. I want them to be known not for stubborn, self-centered defiance, but for their willingness to participate in inclusive, wisdom-filled compromise.
In Donald Trump’s America, there is no greater idol than money. I want my daughters to see money as a tool to help others, not a treasure to be hoarded and flaunted.
In Donald Trump’s America, to be great means to be powerful. I want my daughters to discover the power in self-sacrifice, humility, and love for all, even their enemies.
I don’t want my daughters growing up in Donald Trump’s America because I want them to have the best possible chance of being good, decent human beings and there’s only so much my wife and I can do to empower them to become the people we want them to be. The reality is it takes a village to raise a child and that village has a tremendous influence on how the children within it see and interact with the world around them. A village led and shaped by Donald Trump would be an utter catastrophe for our children’s future, not just economically and politically, but morally, spiritually, and intellectually.
We may indeed need change in our country, but Donald Trump’s version of America is not the change we need.
We need change that makes us – and our children – better people.
All Donald Trump has to offer is a return to our baser, lesser instincts.
We are better than that.
We have to be.
Not just for ourselves, but for our children and their children.
My only fear is that it’s too late, that the attitudes, actions, and ideologies he’s spread have already become normalized in American society and that regardless of who our next president is, Trumpism and all the terribleness that comes with it is here to stay.
I hope I’m wrong.
I hope as a people we are better than that.
I hope tomorrow, when we cast our ballots that we can rise above the fear mongering, vulgarity, and xenophobia that have made themselves at home in America this campaign season and choose a president – no matter how imperfect she might be – that won’t lead us down the path of moral, political, and economic ruin.
I hope tomorrow is the beginning of a return to decency and a brighter future for my daughters.