Four years ago, I was living in New Zealand, enjoying my first few months of being a stay-at-home dad.
Like many, I had an interest in the US Presidential race and given the NZ/US time difference I remember watching the presidential debates live in the afternoon – my then baby daughter transfixed by the screen (we didn’t tend to have the TV on during the day).
Four years later and we’re back in the UK. I’m just as keen to watch the debates, only they are now in the very early morning. I record them and watch before my wife and now 4-year-old daughter wake up. Only for the second debate, my daughter woke up early.
When she came downstairs, I turned the TV off. I didn’t turn it off because I thought she might be bored. On the contrary, she would likely be asking me lots of questions about it.
That was the problem.
I would have to discuss issues of sexual assault, objectification, male privilege, and fat shaming. With a 4-year-old. And I would have to explain why a man as reprehensible as Donald Trump is in contention to becoming the most powerful elected leader on the planet.
My wife and I like to engage our daughter in the political process. For example, I have always taken her to vote with me (and we always vote). If this were a ‘normal’ US election, I would happily let her watch and listen to news reports and the like, and answer any questions. But not this time.
It isn’t just the debates. We like to listen to BBC Radio 4 in the mornings. My daughter always requests we turn it to Radio 2 (middle aged before her time), so we usually compromise and I keep listening to Radio 4 for a while. Not anymore, the radio’s on the music filled Radio 2 before she’s in the room.
Mitt Romney’s ‘binders full of women’ gaffe seems so quaint now, sexism from a bygone age. Yet it was just four years ago.
The thing I finally noticed about Trump in the last debate is that he acts like a badly behaved toddler. He’s petty, impatient, sees unfairness everywhere, and constantly complains to mum and dad (the moderators) about everything. He also gets frustrated at his inability to win arguments with valid reasoning, so resorts to lies, bluster, and bullying.
In answer to the question posed in the title – I simply can’t explain Donald Trump to my daughter. Or more to the point, I don’t want to just yet. So I’m going to let her sit this one out.
There will be a time to talk to her about men like Trump, and the way they view women. But hopefully it will be in the context of how he failed to become US president. Because if not, that conversation is going to be a whole lot tougher.
Writing this post, I was reminded of these Hillary Clinton campaign ads: