I thought explaining the birds and the bees to my children was difficult and unpleasant enough, but compared to the current presidential campaign tossed up with a little mud, dirt and the color orange, discussing how babies are made is a cake walk to say the least. Good grief!
I find myself at times completely unable to find the appropriate words to answer my children’s questions about the upcoming election and more questions about the candidates themselves especially with my 12-year-old twins. “Why is Donald Trump’s face so orange and is that his real hair?” and “Why does Bernie Sanders look like he’s so angry at everyone?” are two fairly light questions. But there have also been ones like, “How can someone running for president use the word ‘liar’ on television?” and “Why do they keep talking about Hillary Clinton’s emails?”
My high school age daughter started watching one of the debates with me only to leave 15 minutes in. She was not impressed with all the back and forth and wondered why more time wasn’t spent on the more important issues plaguing our government. In all this, there seems to be a common denominator of sorts where young people are questioning the bad behaviors of those running for the most important job in our country.
With all the half-truths, the outright lies spoken by many of the candidates are we not wondering if this is the best we can do as the leader of the free world? It is sad at the very least to see what works best in campaigns today is the negativity. For years, campaigns have known we are less interested in and have a harder time retaining the positives about candidates. On the other hand, the negative stuff gets our attention and stays with us.
Negative ads are run because they work. Pouring gasoline on the fire of negativity is a media which has always understood no one rushes to his or her television or computer to watch good news. The tragic side of this is being truthful and running on your own merit is slowly disappearing. Sadly, one can’t get elected on the positive stuff.
Politics has always been a messy business and some of this we just have to accept, but it seems to be getting worse and our children are taking notes. They are watching, listening and waiting for our cue.
I certainly won’t pretend to have the answer, but I do believe we have to return civility to our politics. In this election year, we can start by focusing on the important issues, more on the positive, less on the negative, and complicated as it may be, finding the path back to the values our country was founded on. The next generation is counting on it.