A Child Asks, Why is Trump so Bad?

Brent A. Mitchell
6 min readOct 26, 2020

Explaining our current politics to a child is hard, since we don’t really understand it ourselves.

Baby Trump ballon at First Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by Laurie Shaull (Creative Commons Share Alike license)

A child asks, “Why is Trump so bad? I hear all these things and I don’t understand.” This young person, I’ll call her Ginnie, is trying to make sense of everything that is swirling around her and her family. She hears her parents complain, she sees them argue with people of different opinion, she hears angry people on the television. What is going on?

All of us — children included — are concerned, confused, and anxious about the future. So I’ll try to answer her question, in terms a child might understand.

Why is Trump So Bad?

Yes, Ginnie, Trump is bad, very bad. (Or I should say he has behaved badly — I don’t believe people are bad, just behavior.) I’m sorry to say this about our president, but it is true. I’m as old as your grandparents, and he is by far the worst president I’ve ever seen. It is hard to understand why, but let’s look at your question in several ways.

Why is Trump So Bad?

There are so many ways, more than you have hairs on your head.

He lies, all the time. Most of what he says is simply not true. People have counted more than 20,000 false or misleading things he has said since becoming president. I’m sure your parents have taught you to tell the truth.

He lets his friends break the rules, just because they are his friends, and punishes people who are not his friends.

He has put children in detention, essentially prisons, some for a long time, just because they came to the United States with their parents to make a better life for themselves. That’s bad, and it’s mean.

He takes from the poor and gives to the rich. Imagine if kids at one table at your school lunch got almost all of the food, leaving scraps for everyone else. That’s not fair. (This unequal sharing did not start with this president, but he has made it worse.)

He takes credit for things President Obama started. Imagine if someone took your homework and gave it to the teacher as theirs. That’s not fair.

He is making it easier to pollute your air and water, and turning back efforts to stop the Earth from getting too hot.

He wants to take health care away from people. Imagine if one of your friends got sick but couldn’t go to the doctor because her parents couldn’t afford it. That’s not right.

Perhaps worst of all, he is playing on people fears, and turning them against each other. Sometimes it is because of the color of their skin, or how they believe in God, or who they love. We are all Americans, Ginnie, and there is no limit to what we can do if we just work hard and be kind to people.

Why is Trump So Bad?

No one knows for sure what makes a person behave the way they do. Trump’s niece wrote a book that says that her family is responsible for making him “the world’s most dangerous man.” She says he can never get enough — sort of like a baby that always demands attention. I hope you don’t have an uncle like that! Many people say that he is a narcissist, which is a fancy word for saying that he only cares about himself. He was always trying to prove himself to his father, who taught him that you get ahead by taking from other people.

Let’s refer to Trump as Donny, because I don’t think it is polite to refer to someone by just their last name, and because he does act like a child. (No offense. It is OK to be a child at your age, but not at 74 years old.)

One of the biggest lessons in life, Ginnie, is learning that giving is better than taking, that we are happiest when we are helping other people, that we should treat others as we want to be treated ourselves.

Donny never learned those lessons. He is a bully. He calls people bad names, and he is very mean. You probably know a kid like Donny at school, who tries to make himself bigger by being mean to other kids. Donny calls top leaders names like “Lyin’ Hillary,” “Dumbo,” “Fat Jerry,” and “Pocahontas.”

The odd thing is that Mrs. Trump, the First Lady, tells everybody they should not act like a bully, in something she calls “Be Best.” (In English it should be “Be Your Best,” but never mind.) I guess she sees more than anyone how bad it is to act like a bully.

Although he does bad things, I feel sorry for Donny as a person, I really do. He clearly is not very happy, despite all the nice things he has—you can see it in his face. And he does not seem to have any real friends. His life must feel very shallow and empty. I wish he could grow his heart, sort of like the Grinch.

Another reason why Donny is so bad is that he watches too much TV. He watches some TV where people tell him bad things, and encourage him to be a bully. They make things up, and don’t tell the truth. Those people are behaving badly too, but in our country we want everyone to have free speech, so these people are allowed to say bad things, and the rest of us have to be smart enough to know that they are not telling the truth. And that is why a lot of people don’t think that Donny is bad. You are confused, and so am I, but some people think that the bad things he does are good. This is why you and your friends need to work hard in school and learn how to think for yourselves, so that you will know the difference.

Why is Trump SO Bad?

Donny could not by himself do all of the bad things he has done. As you will learn when you study American history in school, our country is organized so that no one, not even the president, has complete control. Think of it this way: When you ride your bicycle, you pump the pedals to make you go, but you use the handlebars to control where you go. If you go too fast, or in the wrong direction, you use the brakes. Our government is a little like that. The president can go, but the courts can, if they see danger, straighten him (or, someday, her) out, like handlebars. The Congress can hit the brakes. That’s why Donny is not able to do too many bad things on his own. But unfortunately, the brakes are not working very well just now, the Congress is letting Donny go without stopping him. Why? because they are trying to bend the handlebars that steer everything…but, sorry, I will confuse you if I try to explain all that. The point is, some people are enabling Donny to be bad in order to get what they want, instead of what is good for everyone else.

So, yes, Ginnie, Trump is bad, or at least behaves badly. But I don’t want you to worry. Put your mind at ease. Most people want to be good, it’s just that some have been deceived. They have been tricked by Donny to think he is something he is not, like the Wizard of Oz. Remember when I said you should learn to tell the difference between what is true and what is not? I think a lot of people are starting to see the truth, and realizing how bad Donny behaves, learning that he is lying to them. In our system we get a chance to choose who our leaders will be. That opportunity is coming up soon. And it is looking like Donny the Bully, and his gang of enablers, are headed for a big time out.



Brent A. Mitchell

Still learning, and seeking sound stewardship of our shared Earth