At a recent school meeting our headmaster reported that he’d apologized to the older students for the tenor of this presidential campaign. Unable to use this race as a teachable moment — like normal elections — he’d told the children that adults had failed them – and urged the assembled adolescents to do better. He’s right. We, the adults in the metaphorical room, have to do better. A lot better.
In this current climate, headlines are made when the opposing candidates for president actually shake hands. How low have we gone? We live in a world vexed by life and death problems and yet all we notice is whether or not the contenders for leader of the free world can behave like civilized adults. What happened to the demand that candidates be cordial? I’ll take fake cordiality at his point. I’m sorry, children, we have failed you. Might all of us be better served if we skipped this election? Obama’s approval rating has risen above 50% in recent polls. Maybe we should leave our country in the hands of our current leader even though a sizable minority feel he’s taken their country from them.
“We screwed up, we’re sorry.” I say to our children – especially those for whom this is the first election you’re voting in. Please do better than we have. Go high. You can have respectful disagreement – and it can make your argument stronger, more nuanced sometimes even different. It’s called growth. Try it, you might like it. Compromise is not a dirty word – it is how government and business gets done… and it’s essential for long term relationships too. I’m sorry that we, the ostensible adults, couldn’t show you this. Please, do as I say not how our politicians have done.
I hope that we’re a United States of America on November 9th and that our children will lead us onto our best selves.