Starting the first presidential debate at 9 p.m. eastern time thankfully excluded my children from watching the much anticipated event live.
It does not, though, exclude them from seeing the highlights this morning and, subsequently, asking for my take on the often fiery commentary.
I struggle to talk about the campaign with my kids. I have grown to be apolitical – having written before about not looking toward typically rich, usually white candidates to create personal, meaningful change.
Despite my dismissal of the system, though, my kids are curious and should not be left alone to interpret what they see plastered all over the various news outlets.
To me, the debate did provide certain takeaways for my little ones:
(1) Privacy (and secrecy) is disappearing. Technology is making the ability to hide anything virtually impossible – whether that involves Clinton’s emails or fact-checking Trump via past social media material. Hitting “ok” on any platform memorizes a record that will have endless life through a simple Google search.
(2) The glass ceiling is cracking every day. With each day of campaigning, the celebration of powerful woman in America is expanding. That should not go unnoticed by my kids. Hilary Clinton is not the only female power-broker trading barbs with the boys club. My kids should take a look at Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, who has been impressive in her mastery of the spotlight while leading a multi-billion dollar, international conglomerate. I hope that my toddling, 11 month-old daughter will never know a society where woman takes a backseat to a man in any capacity.
(3) Competitive borders are expanding. My children should understand that decisions near home can have infinite reach – in education, in philanthropy, in business or in trade. My kids will not be competing with their classmates in isolation. They will be trying to outpace fellow school-children abroad in places they’ve never heard of – for college entrance, in sports and during their careers.
(4) Passion underlies excellence. Trump and Clinton both prove that being appropriately obsessed with a passion can lead to success in any forum – if you stay the course. No matter where my voting allegiances fall, the two candidates demonstrate that generational success requires doggedly pursuing greatness in their defined fields of passion. I’d venture to say that neither Clinton nor Trump ever “half-assed” anything in school, their professional lives or as they spread their message each day of the campaign.
(5) We are fortunate to live in America. Through all of the negative ads, the eye-rolling, the on-stage snickering and last night’s endless interruptions, November’s outcome will be respected and generally civil. One of the greatest lessons of last night’s two hours is the fact that a handshake started and ended the venom-filled duel.
As the stage lights dim and the news moves on, my kids will not remember last night’s debate. I refuse to use today’s news to educate them on the particular views of Clinton or Trump.
The lesson above, though, persist.
These takeaways prove that a bigger picture exists – a panoramic that is not completed in November, once every four years. This landscape will not be described to my kids, they will be creating it as they process the information inundating them.
My kids’ future, indeed, starts with the reflection in the mirror. That lesson will outlast any election and, to me, is not debatable.