I don’t get out much. That’s not a complaint, just a fact. But today my wife and I sought some foliage—always more fun to look at than to rake—and on the way home we found ourselves waiting behind a school bus from which, at one of the stops, two young children exited. Weighed down but apparently not bothered by backpacks larger than they were, they crossed the street and bounded toward their home. At the same moment on the car radio, Donald Trump was shrieking about Hillary Clinton in his usual semi-psychopathic tones.
And I thought—how far removed are these little kids from the political chaos around them, and I wondered how do we keep them that way at least a while longer? Beyond that, who’s responsible for making sure that, when they do grow up, they thrive in a country that allows kids—their kids—those moments of innocence?
We’re responsible, and we’ve done an awful job this past year. We’ve already allowed children to witness, even if only second-hand—the worst in us. We’ve allowed a fool to become a viable candidate for the presidency, and provided him with one forum after another to disseminate his ignorance. And though the fool in King Lear is one of the wiser characters in the play, the fool who is Donald Trump falls far short of anything approaching wisdom in our particular drama. Add to that a meanness, a cynicism, a recklessness, and a veritable encyclopedia of misshapen and indefensible ideas, and we have what can only be considered a clear and present danger to those kids—the ones who will inherit the responsibility for maintaining our republic.
Tonight many Republicans are falling back in line behind Trump. If he should win this election, checks and balances may deter him from destroying us all, but the damage he can inflict should not be overestimated. Even if he loses, his ego will not allow him to go quietly; and if he were to encourage his followers to revolt or riot, nobody would be surprised. Such an act would be actionable on the part of the government, but that fact would not dissuade him.
Those of us who understand this know that we have a long fight ahead, both before and after the election; but we adults—if we’re worthy of the title—need to make sure that after November 8, 2016, Donald Trump ends up on the trash heap of history with every other megalomaniac that preceded him. We haven’t done a very good job of that so far, but we owe our kids at least that much.