To say this election has been difficult to stomach would be like saying labor and delivery doesn't hurt at all. I've had a hard time constantly covering it, specifically because the Republican nominee is constantly doing, saying, and bragging about hurtful, dangerous, and inexcusable things he's done or plans to do if elected. In an attempt to make it to Nov. 8, or to at least come to terms with Donald Trump's actions and words, the comparison between Trump and children (more specifically, toddlers) has been made numerous times. While I understand the sentiment, comparing Donald Trump to children isn't fair to children, or voters, or this country, or the countless women who've accused Trump of sexual assault, or the people he's hurt and harassed with his words, or any of the people Trump will, undoubtably, endanger if he's voted into the presidency of the United States.
Again, I can acknowledge why the comparison holds weight in so many people's minds. In fact, after watching the first presidential debate, I compared watching Trump debate to arguing with my 2-year-old son. When a grown man goes on Twitter tirades and calls people names and evokes the age-old argument of, "Well, he started it," I understand how hard it is to consider him an actual adult. However, that's exactly what he is. Donald Trump is a 70-year-old man who should know right from wrong. He is someone who should be held accountable for his actions, and not someone we should view as a child who "doesn't know better" or who is "still learning" or who lacks the number of years on this earth needed to familiarize themselves with the rules of common social and human decency.
In other words, if we wouldn't excuse Trump standing on a debate stage and having a bowel movement rather randomly (something my son did just this evening, only the "debate stage" was my living room floor), then we shouldn't excuse anything else he has done or said because he "doesn't know better." In fact, here are just a few reasons why comparing Trump to a child needs to end — and not just because that comparison is completely unfair to children.
Children Are Innocent
I look at my son — especially over the course of this election and during presidential debates — and can't imagine the things Donald Trump has said (with little or no remorse) coming out of his mouth. I see my son covered in a veil of innocence and, honestly, I can only imagine Trump's parents looked at him the same way once upon a time.
My son hasn't been jaded by prevailing rape culture or a patriarchal society that's positioned a grossly unqualified man to be a "contender" against a highly qualified and prepared candidate who's spent decades working on public service. My son doesn't see people on the playground as "things" or "votes" or potential investments. He doesn't see other people as objects he can grab without their permission. He doesn't discriminate against race or religion or gender; he wants everyone to be his friend and wants to share his toys with the boy who helped him up the slide.
If I'm being fair, I have to assume Trump was that way once, too. But based on the trend of his candidacy to date, I don't feel that way about him now. So honestly, I can't equate the Donald Trump running for president to the toddler who wants to help the baby crying at the playground "feel better." After all, Trump kicked a woman out of a press conference when her baby wouldn't stop crying.
Children Are Learning (And Usually Do Learn)
My son has thrown tantrums that sound a lot like the tantrums thrown by Donald Trump (or, at least how they read when perusing the tweets he sends at all hours of the night). My son has kicked and hit and he's thrown toys when he doesn't get his way. He's also hugged kids without asking and he's repeated "bad words" he really shouldn't have.
He has also learned those behaviors are unacceptable.
The throwing? Yeah, that's a dying "phase." At just 2 years old, he's already figuring out that he can't just hug someone without asking them first. He also knows no one is allowed to touch him without his permission. He's already changed and/or altered the behaviors that are just not acceptable in our home and in our lives. Donald Trump, on the other hand, was 59 years old when he bragged about sexual assault to Billy Bush, the then-host of Access Hollywood. He's now 70 years old and calls women "pigs" and says they're "disgusting" when they're pumping milk for breastfeeding or tells women they wouldn't have their jobs unless they were beautiful.
Children Know, And Ask, For Help
My son, even though he wants to be more and more independent everyday, still realizes that he needs and should ask for help. He knows his limitations and is the first to come running to mom or dad to ask us to grab that thing on the top shelf or tie that one shoe or find that one toy.
Trump, however, believes he's the only person who can "save" this country. He doesn't consider the fact that he has zero political experience (or the fact that he has zero knowledge about what's going on in other parts of the world) to be a hinderance when vying for the presidency of the United States. In fact, he thinks being under-qualified is what makes him so qualified. That's like my son telling me that he'd be the best NASCAR driver because he's never driven a car but can say the word "car." (Then again, my son would never say that because, well, he knows better.)
Children Are Held Accountable For Their Actions
My son is held accountable for his actions and behaviors. If he throws a toy at our cat, that toy is taken away. If he throws a toy at all, that toy is taken away. My partner and I don't allow our son to just do whatever he wants just because he wants to. We want our son to understand that there are consequences for your actions and consent is important and people need to be kind and respectful of others and their surroundings.
Donald Trump admitted at the second presidential debate that he's previously refused to pay federal income taxes, and he's been accused by multiple women of alleged sexual assault and even bragged about sexual assault. Just days ago, footage leaked where Trump proudly brags about dating a 10-year-old girl in 10 years' time. He's been accused of discriminating against black people and has said racist, sexist, and xenophobic things countless times. Yet he's the Republican presidential nominee.
Children Are Constantly Bettering Themselves
I watch my son learn something new every single day. He's constantly becoming a more evolved, more complex, more well-rounded human being.
Trump, on the other hand, doesn't think he needs to be better. He believes he's already the best. The greatest. That no one can do anything better than him. He behaves as if he's untouchable, as if he's reached "peak human" and there's nothing he can improve on (unless he is caught saying dangerous comments about women, in which case he's "just a human being" who makes mistakes).
Children Know Not To Say Something Hurtful To Someone Else...
My son is a toddler, and he knows there are "good words" and "bad words." He knows he's not allowed and should never say something hurtful to someone else. He knows not to call someone "stupid" and he knows if he tells the cat to "shut up," he's going to be in a timeout.
Donald Trump seems to think that the word "woman" is synonymous with words like "pig" and "fat" and "gross" and "liar." He doesn't seem to understand that calling people names isn't "kind." Instead, it seems like he feels empowered by attacking and bullying others.
...Or To Physically Hurt Someone Else...
My son has been very big into Wreck-It-Ralph lately, and always comments about the ending of the movie. When the bad guy, Turbo, hits Ralph while fighting on top of a mountain, my son yells out, "Hit! Bad!" and becomes visibly upset that Ralph is being hurt.
Trump, on the other hand, has a history of encouraging violence, specifically at numerous political rallies. What makes my son upset seems to make Trump happy.
...Or That They're "In Charge" Of Someone Else, Just Because They Are Who They Are
In a 2005 interview with Access Hollywood, Trump claimed that he could do whatever he wanted to do to women because "he was a star."
My son knows that just because he wants something doesn't mean he can have it. He asks if he can have another bite to eat or another toy to play with or another few minutes of television time. Just the other day at the playground, he asked a young boy if he could play with the toy trains that young boy brought with him. He didn't take. He asked.
I'll remind you: He's 2.
Children Aren't 70-Year-Old Men
We should hold a grown-ass man to a higher standard. We shouldn't equate him to a child as a way to explain his actions or his words or his behaviors.
Instead, we should be outraged, confounded, totally confused as to how we let this adult — because Trump is an adult, not a toddler — be a vote away from presidency of the United States. While comparing him to children might make this election easier to endure, it's unfair to voters, to the marginalized people a Trump presidency would undoubtedly hurt, and most of all, to children. We treat our children to know better. So why is it always OK when Trump doesn't?