It took a few days before I realized why the unexpected election result hit my 20-something kids so hard.
My daughter cried and told us she welled up with tears for two days. The morning after on the phone my son’s voice trembled with disappointment and anger. Friends have told me similar stories and we have the sad, ironic protests in city streets — not by the angry Donald Trump supporters who threatened violence if they lost — but throngs of the young and millennials.
Telling my adult children about living through the “greed is good” 1980s and Bush-Cheney wrecking the country with disastrous foreign and domestic policy did not matter to them. Because their experiences from kindergarten through college and into their workplaces, along with the culture around them, instilled a tolerance of “the other,” respect for difference, intolerance of bigotry and discrimination.
Whenever their liberal father made a politically incorrect joke (yes I do from time to time), they lifted their eyebrows and grimaced.
While I often have lamented (to them and friends) the crass popular culture they have lived in since at least the late 1990s — especially the films with bathroom humor, crude sex jokes and semi-soft-core porn allowed because of its supposed humor — I now see somehow through all of that, or despite it, they learned that people, no matter their sexual orientation, should be allowed to marry the person they love.
They learned that the state should help and not stomp on the vulnerable, that life is precious even while believing in a woman’s right to choose. They learned, for all of what I see as drek in some popular music, films and shows, that hate speech is wrong, and diminishes everyone, as Martin Luther King, Jr., said even those who utter it.
I am proud of them and their cohort.
Of the many millions of fellow citizens who did not vote, and of those millions of the comfortable affluent not at all battered by our unequal society who could not distinguish the lesser from the greater evil, not so much.
Ron Formisano of Lexington is author of “Plutocracy in America: How Increasing Inequality Destroys the Middle Class and Exploits the Poor” (Johns Hopkins, 2015).