I’m writing this on the eve of President-elect Joe Biden‘s inauguration, which comes at the end of the ugliest U.S. Presidential election of my lifetime, in the early stages of the country’s fourth consecutive embarrassingly ugly election aftermath. (Let us not forget the racism encountered by Barack Obama for twice winning the nation’s highest office.)
The political barroom brawl between Biden and outgoing President Donald Trump exposed some of the worst traits that America has to offer. Petty party divisions, personal attacks above policy debates, endless rounds of the blame game, and a cult-like culture of supporters for each candidate that has shown exactly why it’s so difficult for us to make meaningful progress.
Trump and #TeamMAGA took things to another low with their reaction to losing the election. First it was the immediate and still-unfounded allegations of election thievery, then the riots in Washington D.C. as they attempted to halt the confirmation of Biden’s victory. And that was all before Biden officially takes office.
The 2020 election season was also different for me because it was my first time voting as a parent.
Ever since I was legally eligible to vote at 18 years old, I considered the future with my voting decisions. I always considered the lives and livelihoods of those I cared about; whether it was which Seattle mayoral candidate had the support of local police (my mother was a cop), or whether a piece of education legislation was beneficial for my brother and cousins who were still in school.
In 2020, however, politics hit even closer to home.
The two little people for whom I’m now responsible are patients in our healthcare system; they will be students in our education system; they will be consumers in our economy. Everything that their father and mother are doing in our lives right now impacts their present and their future, including who and what we vote for.
In the days after Election Day 2020, when it started to look like a certainty that Donald Trump was indeed going to lose to Joe Biden in his bid for a second term as President, CNN analyst Van Jones delivered an emotional message that grabbed my attention as a father.
“It’s easier to be a parent this morning,” Jones said. “It’s easier to be a dad. It’s easier to tell your kids that character matters.”
Maybe you stand on the liberal or the conservative side of the political fence. Maybe you agree with Van Jones, and maybe you don’t. That doesn’t matter. If you have kids, you at least have to understand where he’s coming from about how the example set by such high-ranking officials as the President of the United States is important.
It’s hard to raise your kids in a bubble in which they won’t look to famous, powerful people as role models, even if their parents are their primary role models.
The people that we put into some of those positions of power do more than impose taxes and appoint judges. They help create the climate in which we’re all trying to raise our kids.