Why My Vote Matters For My Children

by Julie Scagell
Originally Published: 
Andy Kemmis / iStock

As a mother of three kids, I’ve been thinking a lot about this election. To be honest, I am scared shitless — not just about what it means for our country, but its lasting impact on future generations. While it’s tempting to separate the two, we must admit as much as the character of our president defines our nation, who we vote for defines us as a person.

I want to be a role model for my children. I don’t want to have to look and them and say, “Do as I say, not as I do.” But this election forces us to make that distinction. So as a mom of three kids, here is what I cannot do:

Can you tell your children not to make fun of people who are different, not to ridicule disabled people, or mock people with a different religion, color or creed, and then vote for this man? I can’t.

Can you teach your children the basic principles of compassion and the importance of helping others, and then vote for a man like this? I can’t.

Can a mom vote for a man who proudly calls women “fat pigs,” and then tell your son not to treat women the same way? How can you rationalize that to your son? I can’t.

Can you teach your children not to be a bully on the playground or on social media, but give your vote to someone who does? I can’t.

Can you demonstrate integrity and honesty to your children but support someone who brags about shortchanging people in business dealings? I can’t.

Can you tell your kids not to bring you problems without suggesting a solution, while voting for someone who can’t articulate one himself, and whose only constructive answer to immigration is to build a big wall, which doesn’t actually solve the problem at all? I can’t.

In the words of John Oliver, “When we say I just want a politician who will tell me what he really thinks, we should specify that that politician should not be a total fucking monster.”

As I’ve tried to teach my children, once you say something, you can’t take those words back. Words matter. So you better be damn sure you mean them before you say them — because although some people will forgive you for things you say, they will never forget.

I know a lot of Trump’s followers like him because they want someone “different.” They are sick of the same old run-of-the-mill politicians. But different isn’t always better. Just ask the guy who invented the Watermelon Oreo. Stephen Hess, who served under Eisenhower and Nixon, recently said of Trump, “It’s incredibly depressing. He’s the most profoundly ignorant man I’ve ever seen at this level in terms of understanding the American presidency, and, even more troubling, he makes no effort to learn anything.”

This man has zero experience running a country and has yet to produce substantive detail behind any of his platforms. If your child needed a life-saving operation, would you go to a doctor who never attended medical school? Would you trust him with your child’s life if he’d never before performed the operation he was claiming your child needed? If you wouldn’t be willing to do this with your child, why would you be willing to do this with your country?

When I think about what this election means for my children, I’m reminded about the importance of teaching them to live their lives without fear. Trump’s entire campaign is built on instilling public fear that paints a picture of “poverty and violence at home, war and destruction abroad,” yet he’s offered no solution for how to improve this — except by turning people against Muslims, who he claims are mostly terrorists.

Do you know you have a one in 3.6 billion chance of getting killed by a terrorist in the United States? (Oh, and all Muslims aren’t terrorists, just in case you needed the reminder.) The chances of being killed by a shark are one in 3.7 million, but I’m not going to tell my kids never to swim in the ocean. This fear mongering is appalling. We cannot tell our kids to “just do it” and “have no fear” while supporting a reality show host conspiracy theorist who stokes the flames of fear and distrust.

This really is more than politics. It goes to the heart of who we are as people and parents. We are better than this. Our kids deserve better than this.

And they need us to show them the way.

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