9 Nov 2016

How I Explained The Election Result To My Daughters

A lot was made during this election of how to explain the result to our children. Well, I am a father of 4 girls, and I faced that exact problem today.  Three of my daughters are in England, where they watch something called Newsround twice a week, in what American's call home room. Newsround is a BBC news show for kids. It is not patronizing, it does not shelter them from the world, but it does present tough news stories in a way that kids can digest.

Newsround took the stance of being surprised by the result, but it did not shy away from from the outcome. So when they woke up this morning to Donald Trump as the new President of the United States, they had questions.

So I told them:
  • Trump is the new President
  • Trump has said terrible, terrible things about women, and many of us disagree with those statements
  • Trump is a undoubtedly a misogynist
  • But despite that, Trump represented change to people who could look past his flaws in exchange for those changes 
  • Imagine that - people who are women, who are black, who are Muslim, who were all offended by what he said, all could look past that because he promises to fix something they feel even stronger about than their own identity
  • That if they wanted to understand it, they shouldn't hate the people who cast their vote for Trump, but instead should ask questions as to WHY those people voted that way; what was it that was so bad for them that they could excuse their own beliefs
  • That they should understand the way they live, and acknowledge that those that voted for Trump must face situations that they don't yet understand
  • They can still be anything they want to be
  • They should still drive to be everything
  • Politics might not have been ready for this particular woman, but that doesn't mean they aren't ready for a female President
And it reminded me of a situation I had seen before.

Three of my children are 50% South African. I met their mum in 1997, barely 3 years after Mandela came to power. It was a new world, it was the final nail in the coffin of Apartheid. I was excited that this country had emerged from the dark ages. And whilst some things got better, many things didn't, and still struggle to do so. I didn't understand.

People at the time started talking about "reverse racism", which in my opinion isn't a thing. What they meant was that the hatred had turned against blacks, and instead focused on whites. That's hard for most Americans to comprehend - a country where the pecking order of priority for jobs became black male >  black female > white female > white male...

And during that time I met a man, whose name I wish I could remember, and he told me about the concept of a pendulum swing...

In South Africa the pendulum was so far up to one side (in favor of the white population), that it could not swing down after the election and just settle in the middle. That defies the laws of physics (and humanity). Instead, it would swing the other way for a while, driven by anger and passion; but hopefully not as high up the other way. And over time it would swing back and forth, and eventually - and hopefully - settle somewhere in an acceptable middle (which is slowly happening in South African today).

For Trump supporters, the pendulum was lifted well up to one side, the side that was against them. Trump is the opposite reaction of the pendulum swing. Trump is short term, but he is today's embodiment of the opposite side of the swing. Others will follow him. The next probably will be back the other way, only to be defeated by someone like him, or opposite. Until eventually - and hopefully - we settle somewhere in an acceptable middle. Trump is part of the system that has been created, an essential part of the process. He is a small step in a situation that is larger than our generation.

I didn't vote, because I am not entitled to in the USA. I would personally not have voted for Trump. But if we look past hatred and hate speech, and look at the macro view, we can hopefully see that Trump will make changes that satisfy some of the concerns of the other side, and then be replaced with someone who can balance him out.

President (Elect) Trump is not the end. He is part of a journey that this still relatively young country must endure in order to satisfy the many.

- - -

Additionally, a lot was made of Hilary Clinton "smashing the glass ceiling", and how her failure to win sends a negative message to our daughters that the 'highest position' can still not be occupied by a woman'.

Bullshit.

If your daughters want to be a politician, then perhaps that is true; (but I sure as hell hope mine don't, for their own sake).

Success is individual. My own wife is super successful at what she does, my mum was incredibly successful and built her own business, my sister is doing the exact same thing, my ex-wife is very successful as a teacher, my ex mother-in-law is a highly talented draughtsman, my wife's mother helped thousands of people as a nurse... there are many successful women, and one woman not becoming President should not be the example that our daughters cling on to.

Hilary (in my humble opinion) didn't lose because she was a woman, she lost because she didn't provide the solution for the pain points that the majority of the voters felt. Her loss should not be considered a loss for women; her loss should be considered as a loss for what she stood for and what her kind represented.

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