My son, who is 3, can name all 50 U.S. capitals. And he has no idea who Donald Trump is.
Greyson has known the Obama family by name since before he was 2, courtesy of a First Family mug I drink coffee from while I read him stories in the morning. (Sasha has always been his favorite Obama.) But I can’t bring myself to tell him anything about the current resident of the White House, since doing so would prompt so many questions I’m not ready or willing — or in some cases, able — to answer.
The reason I have withheld this information from him has nothing to do with partisan politics. I am not a Democrat, although many of my conservative friends and relatives assume I am. And my disapproval of the president has nothing (read: zero. zilch. nada.) to do with him being a Republican.
It has everything to do with morality, decency, and truth. Those are concepts I learned during my formative years from people who, almost without exception, happened to be Republicans. Many of those same people (my immediate family not included) now openly support or consistently defend a man who aspires toward none of those ideals, and who in fact often shows unbridled contempt for them.
I haven’t told Greyson about Donald Trump for the same reason I haven’t told him about Vladimir Putin or Harvey Weinstein. Because I believe a 3-year-old is not ready to start learning about the deep chasm of lies, cruelty, and immorality into which some men throw themselves headlong. I couldn’t begin to explain the president’s ugly words and terrible behavior to Greyson, and he couldn’t begin to understand it.
I have watched in horror over the past 6 years — with my own eyes, and without needing any help from the media — as many of our most cherished moral codes and principles of social decency have been trampled underfoot by the most spiteful, erratic, nihilistic, truth-averse candidate who ever ran for president. A man who was then, despite these qualities, elected to be the leader of the free world.
A man who, before his presidential run, was widely viewed by those with a well-oiled moral compass as a debauched business tycoon, and who is now viewed by many of those same people, against all basic moral logic, as God’s chosen leader.
A man who, I’m convinced, my grandparents’ generation would have recoiled in righteous horror to see elevated to power.
A man who, I’m also convinced, my parents’ generation would never have dreamed of embracing 20 short years ago. Or even as recently as 10 years ago, when the conservative candidates of choice were honorable, civic-minded statesmen like John McCain and Mitt Romney.
And yet here we are.
I have watched this nauseating, unthinkable regression in my country, and I have come to one conclusion as a father. There is no viable way that I can even begin to explain Donald Trump to my 3-year-old son.
I want the world to be comprehensible to Greyson. I want to show him people he can emulate. I don’t want him to live in fear of bad men. And I certainly don’t want to explain to him that good people can be convinced — fairly easily, as it turns out, when partisan politics are involved — to root for bad men to take (or retain) power.
I want to protect Greyson, even at this young age, from the beginnings of disenchantment.
I want him to remain, just as he is, deeply enchanted by the world.