I am pulling out of a parking spot at a popular fast-food place. A man nearly broadsides me and honks viciously. I let him go ahead of me. And when I pull out, I see it.
“Of course, he’s a Trump supporter,” I say.
“What’s a Trump supporter?” asks my 6-year-old.
I tell him that they’re someone who supports electing Donald Trump for president. He’s familiar with the whole president concept. Of course, he asks who Donald Trump is. And I believe in telling kids the truth — and that means more than “Donald Trump is a Republican.”
I tell him that Donald Trump is a man who has lots and lots and lots and lots of money and never uses it to help people, ever. He says mean things about women and black people and Hispanic people. In fact, he dislikes Mexican and Central American people so much he wants to build a wall to keep them out of America. He said we should shoot his opponent, Hillary Clinton, which is never ever, ever okay. His hair looks like a dead fox squirrel stapled to his head. In my political and moral opinion, Donald Trump is a bad man. He also lies.
I tell him that his supporters can be even worse. They have big Donald Trump gatherings where they yell horrible, horrible racist things and use racist words to describe people of color. They say that we should jail his opponent for the presidency, Hillary Clinton — or that we should kill her.
Some of his supporters actually wear T-shirts saying we should kill her. They say we should take back America. They want to take it back from people like you and me who think we should use government money to help poor people and little kids and pregnant moms and national parks. They are angry because they feel they don’t have any power.
I tell him we support another candidate. — any other candidate.
He accepts this information with some nods and says that he doesn’t have any more questions. That’s a shame because I’m itching to go on about why Trump hates Mexicans, his shady real estate deals, his business ventures that border on theft. But my son doesn’t need to know all this. How much is too much? That’s the issue here.
I believe in being honest with children, and I believe children should be clued into the political process. I also think we need to tell our kids what our political opinions are, and while we should give them a summary of the other side, we have no obligation to be neutral. As they get older, they can research candidates and make decisions on their own.
But I also believe my kids don’t need to know everything. Obviously, I’m not going to tell my 6-year-old how Trump degenerated into talking about his penis size during a Republican debate. I’m also not going to tell him how people bait the man about his tiny hands. I mean, I’ll get my digs in about his hair, but I’m not dragging the discourse too far down.
I really resent even having to mention this kind of nutbaggery to my children. If the Republicans had nominated someone else, I could rationally explain their ideas. I could explain what they think and why they think it in terms a 6-year-old could understand. But they didn’t.
We’ve lost an opportunity here, not only for a decent presidential candidate, but for rational political discourse with our children — because there are some things I can’t tell them. And like Trump’s entire campaign, that’s a messed-up situation.