What We Steal from Our Children

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I recall a conversation with two women who grew up in Taiwan. They said they wish they had grown up in the United States. I can’t quote them exactly, but the gist of it was that we Americans love and spoil our children. We have Disney World and Christmas and all sorts of special events and traditions designed to make their lives special — perhaps more so than anywhere else on Earth. I remember thinking how lucky I was.

Fast forward to 2016 and one of my African American bandmates tells me a story of a young girl, perhaps his granddaughter, who posed a question to him. She said, “You mean there is going to be a white president?” I don’t know how old she was, but it’s possible she’d never seen a white president before.

Expanding on that I realized, like me, she had never experienced a president who lacked the ability to act presidential. President Obama, in spite of any faults or shortcomings, always presented himself with the class and dignity worthy of the office. He was and remains thoughtful, intelligent, articulate, measured and polite even in the face of unwarranted attacks. When his face appears along side all those white presidents who came before him, I see someone who fits right in the iconography of American presidents. The revered decorum of it all.

Fast forward yet again. Let’s say four years from now. What type of behavior will a young child expect from a president? Will that child be led to assume all our past presidents were babbling, irreverent clowns?

The election of 2016 has been shameful.

I know that many of our past presidents were no saints. The list includes several corrupt individuals, adulterers, alcoholics, and who knows what else. But my blissful ignorance of the details allows me to remain somewhat proud of the history overall. I’m pretty sure we’ve just laid an ax to the root of that tree.

On behalf of my fellow adults of voting age, I feel the need to apologize to the coming generation of young Americans. We blew it. We have destroyed civility on the world’s largest stage. We normalized vindictive, selfish behavior. We’ve empowered and validated a man no one can predict, much less hope to control.

This has to change. Let’s make America great again.

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