Donald Trump beside man in black suit

Explaining Donald Trump To My Kids

We’re in the waning hours of the Trump Presidency, closing a tumultuous chapter of our country’s history. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that there’s no shortage of my opinions of Donald Trump. His (lack of) leadership and virtue has driven me out of the Republican party, rendering the conservative movement into a caricature of moral hypocrisy.

During the Trump era, I refrained from blogging much about him – partly because my blogging output isn’t what it used to be – but also in large part that I used Twitter as a release value for my political frustrations. I also felt that national politics weren’t as pertinent to our everyday lives, and would much rather debate local issues and policies that affect my community.

Donald Trump beside man in black suit
Photo by History in HD on Unsplash

In our immediate family, we largely avoided political conversations. My daughters were 3 & 1 when Trump’s term began and throughout his Presidency we were careful to shield them from political discourse. We didn’t see any need to expose our kids to that level of tribalism and negativity. Rather than have to explain Trump’s immoral, incompetent, and unethical behavior, we just didn’t discuss him with our kids. It worked pretty well over the years, up until last fall.

Windsor is a largely conservative town, and with the election in full swing last fall, Clara started to notice all of the Trump flags and yard signs on our way to school. Combined with the second-grade social studies curriculum, she became aware that the election was coming and started to ask questions on the way to school.


“Dad, are you going to vote for Donald Trump?”

Oh crap. “No, I won’t be sweetie.”

“It seems like a lot of people are going to be voting for Donald Trump.”

“Yes, it looks like it.”

“Why won’t you vote for him?”

“Well, sweetie, Donald Trump is a bully. He does do a lot of things that people like, but he also likes to say mean things about people he doesn’t like, and treats those that don’t agree with him very poorly.”

“Do you like Joe Biden?”

“Yes. I might not agree with everything Joe Biden thinks, but I don’t think that he thinks people who don’t agree with him are bad. Sometimes people just have different ideas about what’s the best way to do things, and it’s okay to disagree.”


Since the election we’ve seen Trump’s darkest tendencies play out, perpetuating the lie that the election was stolen from him, culminating in the tragic events at the US Capitol. This has led to more conversations with my kids about the importance of accepting the truth and being gracious in the loss. I’m counting my blessings that I was able to still filter this conversation for my kids, and hope that they didn’t pick up on my own fear about this dangerous rhetoric.

I’m not naive enough to expect our politicians to be saints. I realize that every President says things that enrage and galvanize their political opponents, but the toxicity that has seeped into our political system is not sustainable. Trump’s unique superpower is his lack of shame. The ambition of most people is kept in check by their fear of being shamed for their behavior, but this never impacted Trump. Whether that makes him a unique figure or a harbinger of darker times in our nation, remains to be seen. For the sake of my children, I hope that it’s not the latter.

More Electoral College food for thought

Some food for thought for those who question the validity of the Electoral College…

These last 5 days have been excruciatingly slow for our nation, but do you realize that California has only tallied 3/4 of their votes? New York is a little better, with 84%, but between those two states alone they represent over 6 million uncounted votes – Biden’s current margin of victory is 4 million votes. Tonight while people are celebrating (or lamenting), every state is still counting votes.

A big part of what took the press so long in calling this election was waiting for a threshold state (Penn, Nevada) that would build up a large enough margin that wouldn’t trigger a recount. In keeping with the spirit of our republic, the Electoral College dispersed power and accountability, sharing it across multiple states.

As with all things government, the Electoral College is not perfect, but I would ask those who may not fully understand it from assuming that it’s without virtue. There are other tweaks that could be made (e.g. revising winner-take-all) could offer a compromise for many concerns.

Lastly, I wanted to share a chart of Swing States and Tipping Point states from the last 5 elections prior to 2020. There are definitely the usual suspects, but you may be surprised just how many states have had this status over the last 20 years.

low light photography of armchairs in front of desk

Colorado Voters – Vote No on 113 – It’s more than “One Person, One Vote”

low light photography of armchairs in front of desk
Photo by Joakim Honkasalo on Unsplash

I know we’ve all grown tired of politics and I’ve been trying to refrain from most of the discourse, but there’s one issue I feel compelled to speak out on Prop 113 in Colorado (National Popular Vote Interstate Compact).

I understand that “One Person, One Vote” is a great tag line, but frankly oversimplifies this very complex issue. I would ask all Colorado voters to spend some time and consider all sides regarding this proposition.

If you have the time, listen to this episode of the Political Orphanage Podcast:

If you feel you’ve made up your mind, give it a listen and if none of their points resonate with you, please vote your conscience, but they do a good job articulating many reasons why we have the Electoral College. There’s a segment where they name off the top cities that would form an electoral majority – spoiler alert: Denver’s not on that list.

However my primary motivation for voting “no” on this has nothing to do with whether the Electoral College is right for our republic, it has everything to do with the process this is coming about. Originally this wasn’t even going to be on the ballot, as this was rammed through our state legislative session. The irony of originally preventing the citizens of Colorado to make their voices heard on the issue of democracy is not lost on me. However, enough people objected that the issue is now forced into the public square for debate – like the way it should be.

Entering the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is an end-run-around of our Constitution. Rather than follow the defined process to modify our living governing documents, this is basically a strong-arm into forcing a group of ideologically-aligned states to bypass the constitutional process. I’m no lawyer, but given that the Supreme Court UNANIMOUSLY ruled against Faithless Electors (Chiafalo v Washingon) last spring, I’m convinced that if this Compact came into fruition, it would not survive judicial scrutiny.

I understand there are valid reasons to oppose the Electoral College, some of which beyond “because my candidate didn’t win the last election”, so let’s have that discussion – in public. Let’s petition our representatives to amend the constitution, convince a ratifiable majority that this is the right thing to do. I’m of the opinion that our Constitution needs more amendments, but re-writing the rules outside of the Constitution is not the way to do it.

Thank you for your consideration. I hope that you treat this issue with the amount of thoughtful consideration it deserves, beyond a bumper sticker slogan.

brown wooden table and chairs

(Not Quite) Back To School

Here we are at the end of the summer. Along with other parents, I’ve been holding my breath as to whether we’re doing in-person schooling in the fall in the midst of COVID-19. After reflecting on last school year, it’s become more apparent that the distance learning didn’t work at all in our house – not for lack of effort by the school, our great teachers, or by the parents – we all gave it our best, but it just didn’t work for our first grader.

Now we’re T-minus 10 days from an already-delayed start of the school year. While our district has maintained that they will be doing in-person learning for elementary students, they’ve already walked secondary schools back to a hybrid model (rotating cohorts of 2 days per week). This week we’ve seen neighboring districts announce the suspension of in-person learning until October, with the announcements leaving a lot of ambiguity about the date.

During that time I’ve seen a lot of people take to social media (especially Facebook) to publicly express their concerns and fears about whether to return to schools, on both sides. While I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject, discussing it with my wife (who has been in logistical discussions all summer about how to safely open and operate a high school during COVID), I’ve purposefully avoided discussing this on social media. Facebook more and more just seems more toxic.

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Mile High Stadium

COVID-19, Sports and the NFL

Throughout this COVID-19 crisis, it’s been tragically fascinating to watch how this has impacted sports. Despite it being entertainment, sports remain a foundational pillar of our society, in large part that it gives distraction from the problems in our daily lives, as well as provides a commonality for us to rally around (or against, in the case of the Raiders). Obviously lots of serious things are missing from our social fabric right now, but the absence of sports leaves a unique void.

Likewise, it’s been fascinating to watch how the leagues try to figure out what comes next. Weeks after the abrupt shock that was the NBA and NHL vanishing overnight, it still seems that any sports are months away from returning, even in modified gameplay, sequestered teams, in remote locations, without fans.

Then you have the NFL.

The NFL has a large advantage of being in the midst of their offseason, as well as the ability to turning every league milestone into a major event. They’ve been able to portray “business as usual” more than any sports league. As refreshing it’s been to be reading content that isn’t about COVID-19, it’s not clear whether the NFL realizes that they can also sound tone-deaf about being a contact support involving hundreds of people in the field, in stadiums that typically house tens of thousands of fans – all at a time when people see this as a major risk for virus spread.

For Broncos season ticket holders, the first payment for next season was due on March 11, right when our world seemingly changed overnight. For those that are on payment plans, the remaining half of ticket balances are due in June. Those three months might seem like three years later, at a time when we’ll likely still know less than we do know when it comes to the fall, as well as many fans having experience severe economic disruption and challenge since they made their first payment.

Look, I get that season ticket ownership is a privilege, and in the case of the Broncos, there’s a long line of people who would gladly take your spot. That said, the Broncos and the NFL shouldn’t blame any ticket holder who has major reservations about going to in-person games in 2020. I’ve long thought that season ticket ownership is a years-long partnership between fans and the team, where fans are encouraged to financially contribute in both good times (like the Super Bowls), and bad (like the first back-to-back-to-back losing season in the Bowlen era). The tickets in my stewardship have been with the Broncos since the franchise started, and it’s unfair for the NFL to ask fans to potentially risk their lives in going to games, as well as blindly contribute a significant amount of their income for games that they likely won’t be able to attend.

There’s an easy solution to this problem, one that can ensure that both the fans and the team can continue their partnership: allow season ticket holders to defer their 2020 tickets (and second half payment) to the 2021 season. Ticket holders can elect to apply their previous first-half payment to the 2021 season, giving the team assurance that the fans want to maintain the season ticket partnership. In return, the ticket holders forgo their rights to games in the 2020 season, and their seats are added to the “individual game sales” pool that goes on-sale in July, when the league has a better sense of whether and when any in-person attendance would be allowed. Personally, given the amount of public health and financial uncertainty, I would take this deal in a heartbeat.

However, I remain skeptical that this will happen. Given how ruthless the NFL can be, they’ll continue to expect their season ticket holders to make payments on time, for games that likely won’t happen. They’ve already sent an email stating that they’ll refund any games that don’t happen – but of course after the fans have coughed up the money and the team can make interest off the funds.

Come on Broncos and NFL, these are extraordinary times, take this as an opportunity to do right by your long-time fans.