By Nick McDaniels
We in the education community, many of us anyway, were not elated by the confirmed election of Donald Trump on Wednesday morning. My students, worried about what a Trump presidency means for our society, for their lives, were terrified. As I launched into my impromptu lessons about the powers of the president to quell fears on Wednesday, among the many questions I answered, among the many opinions my students voiced, one piece of wisdom from a student seemed to rise to the top: “our life probably won’t change that much…” a student said.
Frankly, he’s right. Or at least, I think so. George W. Bush will be remembered in history as one of the weakest presidents of all time and Barack Obama as one of the strongest. Neither dramatically shifted the day-to-day life of the average American, each having eight years to do so. That is not to make light of their impact, because both unmistakably altered the American experience, nor of the importance of the presidency. But it is to say that the likelihood that a president as unconventional as Donald Trump, no matter his degree of crassness and hate, will drastically change the day-to-day life of the average American is fairly slim.
So if that is true then, with our societal fabric pulled to its tensest level in about half a century, it is not a mutually exclusive to suggest that both President Trump will not impact our day-to-day lives and that the sky is not falling. In fact, the reason I suggest that the sky is not falling has nothing to do with the person in the White House. It has to do with the students in my classroom.
I have never seen a more richly accommodating and empathetic generation of students as the one that is developing before my eyes in my classroom with each successive year. This generation of students is the response to the rhetoric of hate and divisiveness. They exhibit a generally more open and welcoming disposition toward others and their ideas. I have heard such a generality as the one I am putting forth confirmed by many of my colleagues.
So the sky isn’t falling because, in the ebb and flow of society and its politics, the response to what may seem a wrong turn for America, is already generationally positioned to control our country in just a few years. The sky is not falling, it only looks that way, because these students–my students and many others–are starting to pull the ground upward.