Donald Trump’s presidential campaign hasn’t simply shocked the Beltway crowd. It’s left parents all over the country wondering how to tell their kids about the most unusual campaign in U.S. history.
Where to begin?
- The name calling
- The inter-party bickering
- References to small hands … and more
- The fisticuffs at too many public events
And that’s just a short list. Trump’s campaign isn’t like any other in our lifetimes. That leaves parents, hoping to inject some civics into their meal-time gatherings, at a loss.
Not to fear, since Trump apparently isn’t going away anytime soon. Here are five tips parents can consider the next time Jill or Jimmy asks, “Is that man really gonna be our next president?”
1. Accentuate the Positive
It’s easy to deliver a laundry list of Trump’s flaws. The DNC is currently writing just such a list, and it may take until the DNC convention to complete. Why not tell kids why he is succeeding? Adults are sick of politicians’ broken promises. They’re fed up with politically correct GOP candidates who don’t sound like you or me. And they distrust a system where money plays a role in how people think (and vote).
2. The Bully Pulpit
Trump’s supporters contend the candidate is merely punching back at his enemies twice as hard. But as Trump’s newest attack on Megyn Kelly shows, it’s often more bullying than anything else. Compare Trump’s words and actions to what your children see on the playground. Describe why he says what he says, and the intended results. Suddenly, politics may seem a lot more understandable to their young minds.
3. ‘Anyone Can Be President’
It’s what we tell every child at some point — you, too, can grow up to be our commander in chief. It’s technically accurate. Look at the chaos a young Bill Clinton endured to become a two-term president. Yet the reality is it takes a very specific scenario to even be considered for the gig. Trump’s out-of-left-field campaign crashed the political system, as did Dr. Ben Carson with his unorthodox run.
4. Define the Term ‘Presidential’
One of the most depressing aspects of Trump’s run is how monumentally “un-presidential” he appears on a near-daily basis: He pouts. He name-calls. He insults friends and strangers alike. Just ask Gov. Chris Christie. It may seem old-fashioned to crave a “presidential” president, but there’s a reason for it all the same. The president gets a bully pulpit on Day One, and from that day on he can help shape a nation’s conduct, and even soul, with the right combination of words and charisma. That matters. Still. Your children should understand that, and why squandering that asset is a mistake.
5. Sore Winners Don’t Count
It’s easy to be magnanimous in victory. Even Trump has shared a few kind words for folks like Sen. Marco Rubio after they exited the stage. It’s far more difficult to stay true to one’s principles after a loss, particularly a devastating one. So compare and contrast Trump’s behavior after unexpectedly losing Iowa to Rubio’s speech after he suspended his campaign. That’s a beautiful lesson for children to process.