Even My Newborn Sees The Problem With Voting For Trump

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.
Earlier this month, my wife and I welcomed our first child, a beautiful baby boy who now resides in a Brooklyn apartment filled with vinyl records, CDs, cassettes, and even a few 8-tracks. His mom and dad love rock ‘n’ roll like he loves breastmilk, and on the day we brought him home from the hospital, we dressed him proudly in a Bruce Springsteen onesie. In retrospect, maybe we should’ve gone with the Hillary Clinton “future voter” one-piece.

Music is a very personal thing. Our boy has two ears and a heart, so I figure he’ll probably be a Bruce fan, but as we pulled that "Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J." shirt over his little head, I felt a twinge of guilt. Babies shouldn’t be billboards for their parents’ musical tastes. What if there are kids out there whose legal guardians are into Hinder or Disturbed or any of those other terrible post-grunge bands that sully the airwaves like meconium poops? No infant should be made to endorse such a thing.

Politics are nearly as divisive and important as music, and yet I feel 100% comfortable dressing my little white male in Hillary campaign swag. Curiously, given all the political grandstanding and “look at my baby” gushing that dominates our Facebook feeds, my wife and I have seen very few of our friends’ kids rocking election apparel. Everything in our son’s short life has prepared him to support Clinton’s presidential bid — especially since the alternative is Donald Trump. Our son was born in a largely Hispanic section of New York City, and for the first three days of his life, he was cared for almost exclusively by people of color — most of them women. Speaking of ladies, his mom is one, and he’s got her to thank for the food that fuels his relentless crying and spontaneous acts of cuteness.

He’s got no reason to mistrust brown people or question the notion of a woman being qualified to serve as leader of the free world, as Trump’s more deplorable supporters surely do. Were you to read him some of the horrible things Trump has said about women and minorities over the years, my boy would scream his bloody head off — even more so than usual.

My willingness to say “he’s with her” doesn’t just stem from the fact that we live in mega-liberal Brooklyn, where the only voters likely to cast ballots for Trump are dejected Bernie bros and freelance writers prepping contrarian “Why I voted for Trump” think-pieces. Even if we lived in a purple or solidly red state, I’d dress my little man in Clinton gear without hesitation. Whether they’re born in Manhattan, Macon, or Madison, infants are too young to fear people with certain skin colors or beliefs. They can only see about a foot in front of their spotty, wrinkled-up faces, and most of the time, they only care about three things: a boob, a burp, and a blanket. It doesn’t really matter where these things come from or who delivers them.

This isn’t to say that Hillary is perfect — that’s a whole other story — or that babies are somehow purer and better than adults. I’ve never worshipped at the altar of the child, and if anything, I believe that kids are simply awful adults in training. As we grow up, we become territorial and protective of our stuff. We worry that other people are encroaching on what’s ours, and when we get scared, we do crazy things, like build walls and start wars. It’s evolution in action, latent douchebaggery taking hold. Trump’s campaign of fear makes total sense — but only for adults who’ve been in the world long enough to feel they’re losing ground.

Now that I’ve got a completely helpless being with half my genes swaddled in a Finnish baby box on my bedroom floor, I understand the biological urge to protect your family. That’s one of the reasons I find Trump so terrifying. There’s no compassion in his message. Hillary has been using the slogan “Love Trumps Hate,” and as corny and idealistic as those words are, it’s a notion we hope our son carries into adulthood. That’s another reason we’re playing him so many Bruce records. And it’s why we’re raising him in New York City, where a white male might grow up around people who look different than him and understand that everyone deserves the same shot. Were the first president of his lifetime to be a woman, it would only help to make that point.

In 10 or 15 years, I don’t know whether my son will like Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. It was Springsteen’s first album, and to be honest, it’s not one of his best. The songs are wordy and filled with a few too many Dylan and Van Morrison rips. And yet the Boss gets in some choice lines. Among the truest and best: “It’s hard to be a saint in the city.” I don’t expect my son to be a saint. I just hope he grows up with the good sense to see bullying and fear-mongering for what they are: two of the only things you should never listen to.

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Editor's note: The views expressed here are the writer's own.
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