Hitting on Donald Trump: Pinata or Effigy?

I am not a fan of Donald Trump.  This is no secret.  Should he be elected the next President of the United States of America, I fear greatly not only for America, but for the world.  We talk about politics at home, so our sons have no doubt overheard us and we’ve certainly answered questions about the upcoming presidential election and the candidates when posed by our son.

Last weekend my older boy and husband went to a neighborhood block party.  It was an end of summer celebration on a warm day.  Lots of food and drink and good cheer.  Oh yeah, and a Donald Trump pinata, too.

I first heard about the Trump pinata sensation a few weeks ago at a party with the parents of my kid’s classmates.  I laughed with the others, thoroughly enjoying the irony of Candidate Trump’s likeness being made into a pinata — a symbol of celebration so closely associated with Mexico, our neighbor to the south that Trump intends to build a wall of separation from as a welcoming card.

But here’s the thing — enjoying the irony of an idea is a completely different thing that learning my son was taking a whack at a likeness of our Republican presidential candidate, even if it is a man I fear and don’t respect.  When my husband texted me an image of the pinata surrounded by young kiddos greedy for candy and the ring of smiling adults around them, I won’t lie, it made my stomach turn.

Photo courtesy of Matt Farmer.
Photo courtesy of Matt Farmer.

We are better than this, folks.  At least we should be.  At least I thought we were.

I asked my son about it when he returned.  He was fairly animated, telling me that when it was his turn to hit The Donald with a stick he thought about how angry he would feel if Trump were elected president.  Oh, man. I can’t lie, that was hard to hear.  The thing is, a seven year old, even one as precocious as my son, doesn’t typically hold anger and ill will towards people he doesn’t know personally.  It is clear that the thoughts and feelings my husband and I share about a Trump presidency have trickled down to our boy.

While I am A-OK with introducing politics to children, encouraging them to think critically, ask questions and come to their own conclusions, I draw the line at whacking an effigy of someone we disagree with, not only politically, but morally and ethically as well.

My boy and I had a chat about how I disapproved of the pinata.  We talked about anger and disagreement and conflict and how best to handle those things. We talked about pinatas and effigys and how those things are better off separated.  They are, in fact, very different things.  I told him that when I was a girl watching the evening news (remember when we used to actually watch the news?), it always scared me to see effigies of Uncle Sam or American presidents being destroyed.

As adults, we have to be responsible about how our own views and opinions are perceived and often embraced by our children.  It’s not so easy, though.  For me, my personal values — those things I wish to instill in my sons, are very much present in my politics.  Of course I support candidates whose values most closely mirror my own. It is an important aspect to the privilege of voting and democracy — choosing a candidate that best reflects our own views.

But here’s the thing:  I could easily see Donald Trump whacking away at a Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama pinata, laughing and hitting, hitting and laughing the whole way through.  The act of whacking an effigy is an ugly image.  It is base and primal and unsophisticated and not something I would ever condone, a lot like Donald Trump himself.  It would be hypocritical of me to condemn Trump for his hate and ignorance, then engage in hateful and ignorant behavior myself by whacking an effigy of the man.  And if it’s not good for me, it’s not good for my children.

This political season is one for the books.  It is ugly and dirty and only going to ramp up in the next two months.  During that time, as we listen to the news, comment on the latest outrageous sound bites, watch the debates, I am going to think critically about what I am adding to the situation that my son’s will see and absorb.  There is enough hate and ugliness in the world.  Our children don’t need to see more coming from their parents.  Disagree, discuss, clarify to your heart’s content so that the values you hold dear are what your kiddos see instead of a hanging effigy in the front yard being whacked for fun.

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