Talking to your children about presidential front-runners

This week’s blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 3-year-old daughter Viva, whose long-form birth certificate has never been found.

VIVA: Daddy, why is there an orange with a hamster sitting on it shouting at me from the television?

DADDY: That’s not an orange with a hamster sitting on it, honey. It’s Donald Trump.

VIVA: Who is Donald Trump?

DADDY: He’s a guy who builds garish hotels and hawks greasy pizza sandwiches. He wants to be president.

VIVA: Why does he want to be president?

DADDY: He has so much money he doesn’t know what else to do.

VIVA: If he has so much money, why is he so angry?

DADDY: No one ever gave him enough hugs, honey. Or enough time-outs.

There are about 15 months until the next presidential election. Almost a quarter of the sitting President’s final term is still to go. Which, in this country, means the circus of campaigning is already going full tilt. Try not to be the victim of a tragedy in the next year because you’ll be news-cycled over in a few hours by Marco Rubio drinking a glass of water or Joe Biden scratching his nose. Your child has probably already noticed the twisted menagerie of governors, senators and madmen slouching towards Bethlehem to be elected.  So, how do we talk to our kids about the mud-slinging, rhetoric-puking, billion dollar backyard wrestling match they’re going to see for the next year?

Why don’t we stick with the current top two candidates on each side of the aisle, and give you a transcript of my talks with the ever precocious Viva.

BERNIE SANDERS

VIVA: Who is Bernie Sanders?

DADDY: A Senator from Vermont.

VIVA: What’s Vermont?

DADDY: A state out east with about 600,000 people in it.

VIVA: And he’s a self-proclaimed Socialist?

DADDY: He is.

VIVA: That might work for 600,000 people. What about for a capitalist country of 319 million?

DADDY: Hard to say.

VIVA: And why do bicyclists and white people with dreadlocks keep writing “Feel the Bern” on our sidewalks?

DADDY: They like him.

VIVA: They liked Ralph Nader, too. How’d that turn out?

DADDY: You’re such a cynic.

HILLARY CLINTON

VIVA: They let ladies be president?

DADDY: Theoretically.

VIVA: And she’s a Democrat?

DADDY: Theoretically.

VIVA: But she has supported all the misguided American military action of the past decades, she was a member of the anti-union Walmart Board, she helped negotiate contracts moving jobs overseas, she race-baited her way through her last campaign and has a long record of supporting laws devastating to minority communities.

DADDY: I guess that’s what they call “neoliberal.”

VIVA: Well, as a feminist, I would love to see a lady president, but also as a feminist, I can’t abide by Hillary’s record on issues relating to Women’s and LGBT rights, or her support of a husband whose coattails she rode to power who clearly used a power imbalance to seduce women.

DADDY: Who are you, Camille Paglia?

VIVA: Daddy, I’m three and a half. I don’t know who that is.

JEB BUSH

VIVA: Bush? Like George Bush – the president nobody liked?

DADDY: Yes.

VIVA: Bush, like Florida – the state nobody likes.

DADDY: Yes.

VIVA: Do Republicans like him?

DADDY: He’s a little soft on immigration for them. And he likes education.

VIVA: Do Democrats like him?

DADDY: Well, he’s a little hard on taxes for them. And on women in a persistent vegetative state.

VIVA: Sounds like he’s got it tough.

DADDY: Well, that’s what allowed the rise of:

DONALD TRUMP

VIVA: The orange with the hamster on it?

DADDY: Yes.

VIVA: Who is famous for messy divorces, a TV show where he makes preposterous decisions based on arbitrary opinions and magical thinking? Oh, and pretty much open racism.

DADDY: You know him.

VIVA: He’s hard to avoid.

DADDY: We can try.

VIVA: Is he really going to win the nomination?

DADDY: If he doesn’t, he might run as an independent.

VIVA: And then?

DADDY: And then Hillary or Bernie might win?

VIVA: So, it’s a hippie, a sellout, a Bush or a hamster orange?

DADDY: You got it.

VIVA: Daddy, I’m scared.

DADDY: Me, too sweetie.

VIVA: Can we go get ice cream?

DADDY: We’d better. The earth keeps getting hotter.

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