It’s the children who have the most to worry about from a Trump regime.
Not just the children in actual age but the budding offspring of business entrepreneurship.
|Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter|
|Orrin Hatch as Mr. Potter|
Those are the figurative children. But I am really worrying about what is happening to the literal children – the young of the world.
It’s moved far past my casual speculation about how a mother like Sarah Huckabee Sanders can lie daily to the press and still go home to teach values to her kids. Every real news story forces us to hope that the natural resilience of children can somehow rise above the challenge Trump poses to their thinking about responsible adult behavior.
I raised mine in a time when I may have agreed or disagreed with the politics but I could believe in the basic values and procedures of society and government, that they were striving in their statements if not always their actions to articulate equality under the law and the democratic instincts the nation was founded upon. There were many sides to the economic debate and a willingness to consider facts. The decisions might go awry for my beliefs, but the underlying purpose was clear and often welcome.
Now I fear my grandchildren will no longer see the US form of government through similar eyes or read the policies being perpetrated as akin to the real United States Constitution their parents talked about (or my parents, refugees from Hitler’s Germany, viewed with such affection). They may regard the Trump regime as purposefully harsh, bleak and devoid of genuine concern, under the flag-waving, for the humanity under his control.
The recent children of America, now with children of their own, might decide it is better to start the revolution now rather than wait until he destroys the optimism and solidarity of advance that his manners and methods are deliberately giving short shrift.
Consider the long bipartisan CHIP program – children’s health insurance affecting one in three US kids. Despite lip service from both parties it remains unrenewed at this writing, forced to a backseat by the push for a hodgepodge tax bill.
Sounding like an echo of Mr. Potter in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” even the GOP co-sponsor of the original CHIP, Utah’s Orrin Hatch, muttered Potterlike on the senate floor about the US being short of money that shouldn’t be wasted on freeloaders – like 12 million children?
So children are now placed deliberately at the rear of the congressional bus, where many think the entire grownup middle class has also been placed.
But it is even worse for children. They are not supposed to follow or even worry about the to-and-fro of politics though it now affects their future years in a harsher way than the tax burden ever could. One is only money. The other is attitude. It speaks to how poorly they are viewed by the adults in government – and they can feel it.
Looking around at what society is willing to spend on their education, or forgive in terms of their educational debt, looking at how they are expected to bust their butts only for the jobs and pay scales that legislators think are worth anything, they may decide little has changed since the age of Dickens in real and cruel indifference to anyone not born with a silver spoon in their mouth.
There is also the largely unmeasured psychological impact on how native and immigrant children feel about their future treatment in the United States, particularly if their skin isn’t white but now even extending to sensitive white children.
Political action and conscience have made the nation more understanding of the disenchantment and even anger felt by black adolescents raised in poverty or mixed in society’s minds with the troublemaking youth gangs regardless of what they achieve on their own. We keep asking them for patience to let society improve while our president suggests police should more deliberately stomp their heads – and then we wonder why so few in these communities believe our words anymore and look elsewhere for relief.
These are different times and centuries, but we are a nation founded on our openness to what Trump labels “chain migration” -- people encouraging family and neighbors to join them in the great migration to the new freedom and opportunity in the Americas, not measuring their worth by what old jobs they could repeat but what new jobs they could create. Many families here, both Republican and Democrat, can look back fondly on such roots.
Migration as a US glory should remain a strong vision in the American value system despite the growing negativities you hear about "illegals" among us (most better behaved and more knowledgeable about America than the native born). Immigration is the DNA of our social fabric despite broad efforts to keep out immigrants from Muslim-strong countries as well as from across the Mexican border, which brings a historic reminder of a time when we didn’t need or even want a wall.
At the turn of the 20th century it was quite common for immigrants from Europe, Asia or Central and South American to come here to learn what they could and then return on their own countries – 40% to 50% by some records –to help them flourish. Rather than try to once again find that comity, Trump wants to slam shut the gate.
The US has already tampered quite a bit with a natural pattern of ebb and flow in immigration, and Trump’s dark simplistic view of the world has turned tampering into obsession. Immigrant families who happily came here in the last 20 years and future immigrants who still try to look at the US for salvation and cling to the established American dream even harder than the natives – well, they now have daily reasons from the White House to doubt American values and wonder how they will be received or even if they should try to get in.
Imagine being the child from Yemen who finds Trump’s travel ban is so broad as to prevent his ailing 80 year old grandfather from visiting? Imagine the adolescent Dreamer watching his or her parents being deported to a country they haven’t seen for decades. Imagine the young Bangladesh worker who finds the behavior of one oddball nut in New York has ruined his chances to find a new life in the US.
The Trump administration policy wants educated technical savvy immigrants first – which sounds reasonable at first until you look at two countries curiously not on the travel ban list – Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. They may be key allies we don’t want to offend with travel regulations but their advanced schools are famous for producing terrorist leaders. Here as in other countries, the US may be better off with rawer less educated material given the bias in native institutions of higher learning. But then again, we have to realize that living in our county right now is not reassuring to many legal immigrants or to most Dreamers.
A look at recent mass shootings and individual terrorist activities, which pale in injury to what the crazy white shooters have done to us, reveals a harsh reality of mentally ill people or confused young people radicalized within our shores, not in any journey here. Yet rather than target such behavior, the Trump administration has rained a blanket of hatred on their native countries or religion, hardly making us safer as they ratchet up the reasons for hatred.
Do we expect these children and adolescents to feel kindly toward our government? What unseen havoc to their psyches has resulted from Trump’s refusal to build compassion and individual judgment into an ethics policy, reviving what our American justice system was once famous for?
The terrorists on the Internet could have no better recruiting tool than Donald Trump.