Kelly Ayotte, the Republican Senator from New Hampshire embroiled in a fierce re-election campaign, was recently asked whether Donald Trump was a good role model for children. Her response was a classic political mishmash of avoidance and misspeaking. Indeed, she recanted most of her answer later that night, stating that neither Trump nor Clinton was a good role model for children.
When I heard this news story I immediately had several thoughts for the Republican senator.
- No human being is an infallible role model for our children. We are all deeply flawed humans who triumph one moment and fail spectacularly the next. Our children should be taught this, so that they won’t be stuck in therapy for years after being disappointed by their parents, pastors, teachers, friends, children.
- Every human being has traits which are admirable, and ought to be emulated. Ms. Ayotte could have pointed these out.
- Which of Donald Trump’s many traits should be emulated? He is a patriot, and loves his country, being willing to sacrifice years of his life to serve his country. This is a good thing. He loves his family, and has raised them well and intentionally. Trump has taken the time to think about what could help his country -- whether you agree with his conclusions or not. He is an aspirational person who sets gigantic goals for himself and sets out to accomplish them. Yes, children, emulate that please. He has built businesses, provided jobs, picked himself up after failures, and subsequently changed the landscape of many American cities. He attempted to demonstrate the successful business principles he used in an entertaining way via his reality show -- his very Trumpian form of mentoring. All these are qualities we may wish for our children.
- Is Donald Trump flawed? Absolutely. I don’t think any of us would wish three marriages for our children, or twitter wars, or even his hairstyle preferences. Our children need to learn to look at the whole person and recognize flaws for what they are, rather than blindly emulate the entire persona of anyone.
- Let’s talk about Hillary for a moment, because Ms. Ayotte left a huge gaping void that could have been used to answer the question, as well. Hillary has many strengths which could be used as a role model for children, even good Republican children. (Keep reading before you explode!). She, too, has spent an adult lifetime in service to her country. She loves her daughter and grandchild. She has shattered the glass ceiling for women and girls everywhere, rising to the top offices of the land. She recognizes and honors the diversity of our country. And yes, Ms. Ayotte, you could have then turned to Mrs. Clinton’s flaws, all those traits we would definitely not wish our children to emulate. Politically speaking, that could have been a good moment for you.
Political gamesmanship is a nasty business no matter how you look at it. One of our main missions -- other than supplying fun, incredibly delicious coffee that helps out people all along its supply chain -- is to promote intelligent and civil conversations in the political arena. Kelly Ayotte missed one such opportunity this week.
When it is time to instruct our children in the art of growing up, we should set our hearts on higher things. Find the good in our fellow countrymen, realizing that each of us is doing the best we can as frail humans making our way in the world. We could choose to stop bashing character, and discuss issues in the political spectrum. We could teach our children to use logical, critical thinking when evaluating who they wish to become. Had Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton chosen to carefully cultivate their own role models, Ms. Ayotte may have had an easier time answering a very interesting question.