Democratic presidential-nominee-to-be Hillary Clinton’s campaign released a new ad this morning. Titled “Role Models,” the ad features close-ups of children, faces lit up by television screens, watching Donald Trump say lines like “And you can tell them to go f*ck themselves,” and “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”
During the one-minute-and-16-second spot, pretty much all we see are the lovely little faces of small children, and all we hear are the hate-filled, racist words of Donald Trump. It is a devastatingly effective piece of politics for two reasons.
First, it’s all true. One can dislike Trump and disagree with his “views” (if words like “When Mexico sends its people, they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists” can be called “views”), but seeing the words against a backdrop of children reminds us of their meaning. If, like me, you’ve become a little numb to such talk, foregrounding Trump with a bunch of cute little kids can be a jarring reminder: “Oh, right, he’s talking about real people.”
But more than that, I think, this new ad — one of the most effective I have ever seen — reminds me of something about myself that’s changed. I’m a mother! And that makes me much more susceptible to advertisements that play on “the children,” also known as “future generations.” Never much of a crier, I have found dramatic, violent television shows hard to watch since becoming a parent, and ads such as this one put a lot more emotional weight on my heart than they used to.
I worry a lot more about “the future” than I used to, in big and small ways. I take better care of myself to make it less likely I’ll die — wouldn’t want my daughter to grow up motherless! And though I’ve always been environmentally conscious, having a child has made me think so much more about the “big issues” we face, simply because it’s likely that someone I care deeply about will be on Earth a lot longer than I will. So, yeah, seeing Trump’s words against a backdrop of American children affects me. And though I wish I could say it would have affected me before I was a mother, I’m not so sure of that. But I’ve changed, at least a little, and I think for the better. I can now admit that, yes, I am susceptible to a certain type of political pandering.