The Election as Teachable Moment

Many teachers are unhappy that Donald Trump is now President-elect of the United States.  Whether you like Mr. Trump or hate him, you’ve got to admit that this election has caused a lot of bad feelings on all sides.  The students in my class this morning were overwhelmingly afraid of a Trump presidency and believed that it may be an end to America as we know it.

As a teacher, it’s not my job to share my political views with my students.  It is, however, my job to teach them things.  And today, even though I’m not a civics teacher, I taught them that a Trump presidency won’t destroy America.

We were all taught about checks and balances in high school.  Put simply, each of the three branches of the government (executive, legislative, and judicial) exercises some control over the others, ensuring that the government can’t spin out of control.  If you believe this is the case – and 240+ years of American history suggest it is – you’ve got to accept that no matter how badly Mr. Trump’s presidency goes, our nation will survive it.  But, you may say, the legislative branch is Republican and he’ll get to appoint Supreme Court justices.  Won’t they get together and end the country?  If you believe that the people we’ve elected are terrible people, then yes, it’s possible that we could get some nutty things going on.  However, most people of either party aren’t terrible, and won’t put up with most of the dire scenarios we’re most afraid of.

And if they do, there’s such a thing as the constitution.  No matter how nutty things get, there are simply some things we cannot do.  Sure, we’ve done some strange things with how we’ve interpreted the constitution in the past, but for the most part we’ve done a nice job of following it.

But what happens if the constitution is overthrown?  If that’s the case, America will no longer be America.  And frankly, it’s hard to imagine anybody thinking that’s a good idea.

If you’re afraid of our future president, remember that our system has been set up specifically to deal with situations like this.  If you believe in America, you have to believe that things will work out.

Teach our students about America, and who we are.

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