Teach Your Children

Peter Sinclair of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, who exposed Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s shameless chicanery on climate science, has produced a sequel to his earlier work, further revealing Cruz’s reckless disregard for the truth about our imperiled planet:

Watching Sinclair’s video reaffirms just how alarming it is that either Cruz or Donald Trump, his brother in baseless climate denial, could be the GOP presidential nominee less than a decade after John McCain ran for the White House vowing to fight for cap-and-trade legislation. Imagine for a moment a Trump-Cruz GOP presidential ticket, and how vile such a ticket would be–and not just from a climate perspective.

We often hear the phrase “clash of civilizations” invoked in American politics, usually within the context of national security. If Hillary Clinton and her running mate faces off against a Trump-Cruz ticket in the 2016 general election, we will see a clash of a different sort: a clash between civilization and chaos, between decency and degeneration, between rationality and recklessness. Can you think of any Presidential election in recent memory in which there was such a clear contrast between the values of the scholar and the values of the savage?

It may be a bit melodramatic to suggest that our children will run wild in the streets if a Trump-Cruz ticket ascends to the White House–but only a bit. There are legitimate reasons to be concerned about the sort of values our children will bear witness to if the worst happens on November 8.

I usually like Oliver Stone’s movies, but one of my worst memories was watching Any Given Sunday two days before Christmas in 1999 at the old Loews Cheri theatre in Boston, and becoming nauseated by the incessant foul language in the film. I don’t think I’m a prude, but the unending stream of four- and twelve-letter words gave me a headache. I couldn’t imagine ever watching that film again, and I couldn’t imagine how parents could drag little children with them to movies filled with profanity (something I’d occasionally see at the Cheri and other Boston-area theatres).

Having Trump and Cruz as President and Vice President would be like listening to someone swearing incessantly with children around–and there would be no way to take those children out of the theatre of American politics, no way to shield their ears and eyes from explicit lies, no way to protect their innocence.

This is why we will miss President Obama: his comportment and his decency, his humanity and his soul, his recognition that our children are watching, learning, modeling themselves after our behavior. This is why I fear the prospect of a Trump-Cruz ticket: what kind of sick, immoral values would our children learn from both men?

I mentioned earlier this month how I once believed that “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)” by Diana Ross was the corniest song ever written, and how life and experience has taught me the importance of that song. Another song I used to dismiss as corny claptrap was “The Greatest Love of All,” first recorded by George Benson and later popularized by Whitney Houston. As I think about this election, I also hear those lyrics in a new light:

I believe the children are our future

Teach them well and let them lead the way

Show them all the beauty they possess inside

Give them a sense of pride to make it easier

Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be…

What will happen to this country if our children are not taught well by the next President’s behavior, words and actions? Won’t our children just see ugliness inside? And, to reference another famous line from that song, if President Trump and Vice President Cruz teach our children that bigoted loathing and brazen lies are OK, won’t that take away our dignity?

UPDATE: More from the New York Times, the Washington Post, Chris Hayes, Cenk Uygur and Sam Seder. Plus, CNN and MSNBC on the anti-Trump protests taking place today in Phoenix and New York, in advance of Tuesday’s Arizona primaries.

SECOND UPDATE: More from NBC Nightly News, MSNBC.com, the New York Times and Think Progress.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.