Friend and regular reader Phyllis asked where Archie and his young friends got their information about “when you’re a grown up and popular, you get to make a lot of money like Trump.” I actually have no idea, as I didn’t go down that path with him. I chose to focus on the distinction between being popular and being a good person.
But her question raises an important issue for those of us in contact with young children in any way. How do we talk about Trump? Phyllis and I are from the same era, where as children we were taught to respect the office of the presidency and the institutions of our political life. According to the Burns and Novick documentary on VietNam, that respect began to wane nationally when people realized that successive presidents had lied to us. But that basic formative notion of respect for institutions and the people in them was still part of our value and belief system.
I have no respect for Trump, and think our Grifter-in-Chief makes a mockery of the office. But six year olds are concrete, not apt to sit for nuanced explanations about why you can’t respect this one but maybe next time we’ll get a better one and you can respect him or her. I think there are significant implications in raising a generation of children without respect for our core democratic institutions.
I think the burn-the-house-down forces of social media, driven by people like Steve Bannon and Alex Jones, are tremendously dangerous. That’s the environment we live in as well.
The bottom line is that I have no idea how to talk with six year olds about the institutions of our democracy and the people who occupy them in the era of Trump. Do you?