11.05.2008

the Nonchalantdad: Getting out the Vote


Now that the election has come to a conclusion it is safe to mention, without anticipating to much fall-out, that we were very much for a change in the political climate. Of course, each of us have issues which we are serious about defending, and in my family alone there are opinions ranging from the almost evangelical to the nearly anarchic. I'm much more pragmatic, even if I believe in shaking things up time and again. Basically, I don't get wrapped up in all the emotional stuff surrounding the candidates. The way I see it is this: congratulations to the winning candidate and much good luck! However, after 2 to 4 years, if I don't see the kind of improvement that was either promised to me in the beginning or if I think the candidate did nothing at all or ended up misleading me.... well, that's the great thing about our political system - out with the old and in with the new. We make a mistake when we start thinking the president is our personal friend: they are there to do a job and we are there to decide who will perhaps do the best job.

I have no doubt that both of the main candidates this time around - Senator McCain and Senator (now President Elect) Obama are upstanding characters in fact. Nothing in my intuition said that either one was presenting something that was false - which is something I couldn't quite say about our current and outgoing President. In both gentlemen, I could feel that they would produce a change. Unfortunately, for one of them, the change, when presented in more detail, did not vibe with the kind of change I was seeking. And, in this case, it looks as though the majority of Americans were in agreement with me! 

In our small state there are/were several choices for President of the United States of America. We had both Dems and Republicans, but also on the list were an Independent, a Libertarian, and a Green Party candidate. We had much to think about, even if the information wasn't always easy to find. Nonetheless, throughout the process, especially over the last couple of weeks, my wife and I tried to engage our kids in the decision-making. We talked to them about which candidate appealed to us and why it was important to find a candidate who would support our own beliefs or ideals. We spoke to them in the simplest terms about what the President and Vice President would do for our country. Mostly, we spoke to them about how important it is to vote in our country - and what makes our country special for giving us that privilege and right. And, over the last few weeks they could see the growing excitement at the prospect of voting for a President, Senator, Congressperson, and local officials. We wanted them to understand that there are people that we vote for who help us keep the country running - who help keep the country safe. Of course, we tried to keep the partisanship limited so that we didn't encounter any unforeseen problems - you know how young kids can be. We wanted them to be aware that many people voted for different things - and each person's opinion mattered - even if we didn't agree with it.

My wife did allow for some playful advertising of her favorite candidate though - teaching the kids the simple chant of 'Yes We Can' and allowing them to wear a Lucky Wang designed shirt that only had a picture of Obama's face on it. In fact, we weren't sure how our older son's wearing it might go over at his school. We found out soon enough. Our 6 year old son came home and announced that his teacher had asked the other students if they recognized the man's face on his shirt. He told us that one of the other students in his class raised his hand and said that it was the man who was going to take all our money away!!! How about that - 6 year old activists!!!

Yesterday, election day, we allowed our kids to come with us to vote. Our son did not have school since we commandeered it for the election. That alone meant something exciting to him. We told the kids that it was a special day and that there would be many people holding signs and voting - they seemed more interested in why there was a big table of cakes and cookies, etc. As well, our son asked us all about why people had to go into their own private areas. The process may not have been as exciting as attending a friend's birthday party, but we were satisfied that they were at least participating in some capacity - and they did seem genuinely entranced by it all. In fact, our son, having obviously given the issue great thought announced to us on the morning that he was going to vote for Obama. Naturally, when we asked him why he chose Obama he said it was because he knew that if McCain became President that he was going to add 4 minutes onto his school day. And, if Obama became President he said that he knew that he was going to build a basketball court in the White House. Where did he come up with that information??? There was just no doubt about which candidate would get his vote! I have to tell you, it sounded plausible to me - and in some cases during the election season not to far distant from some of the reasons the adults were deciding on which candidate would get their vote.

I'd be curious to hear how you introduced the campaign season or election to your kid(s) - any special anecdotes or embarrassments? 


8 comments:

Anonymous said...

how funny! My son thought McCain waved like a robot and Palin looked like a Power Ranger (presumably because of the glasses) - we had to explain why McCain moved his arms as he did... but with Palin, there was no explanation. Ooops!

Anonymous said...

Being from a very red state - a state that no one campaigns in - ever... we don't see all of the many diverse perspectives that you enjoy in the northeast. I am encouraged your comments on the election. They give hope to me. My town is in a slump because our livelihood depends on defense spending. In the past - having Republicans in power has meant comfort and when the Democrats are in power we have merely survived. Everyone here is so quiet. There is a hush - an introversion of each person - on the street. There is a lot of fear. Our booming housing market is visibly crashing. In the past two days I've seen two new auction signs on my street. When I look at the map of our nation all divided in clumps of red and blue -I worry that we may all be too different. My heart tells me we are not so different, but we stand in such contrasting places. Our perspectives don't come together very well.
On a lighter note - my son asked me when Mr. Obama would be coming by to collect our money. I told him not to worry about that... no one was actually coming by - they'll send us a bill later:)

Anonymous said...

My six year old daughter was very excited to vote with me on Tuesday morning. She asked if she could hold the marker with me as I filled in the line next to Obama's name. Before we left our house to vote, she informed me that she was going to wear a dress and her "fancy shoes." My little girl understood the importance of the day and dressed accordingly!

Anonymous said...

to the person from the red state: We feel your pain. In fact, red or blue, we are not very different at all - at this time we are all suffering. The way I see it, we are suffering because of mismanagement by many who we elect and trust to guide us, and greed by many more who saw an open door over the last few years and ran through it without any apparent concern for moral decency. I also understand that you think that Republicans will save us from taxes and the Democrats will willingly tax us to death. This kind of stereotyping is unfortunate. I need to remind our Republican friends, considering the label given to Obama during the election of being a socialist and general 'spreader of wealth' that it is the Bush administration's Treasury Department that has gone ahead and bailed out with obscene amounts of money the very same financial organizations that played footloose and fancy free with all the deregulation. The government, Bush's administration, now has ownership in many large banks - how's that for socialism. And, I need to remind my Republican friends again that it is the same Republican leaders, in the form of a governor of California and a mayor of New York City, who are now proposing a repeal of tax cuts and new taxes. We play this game of tag with calling each other names over leadership issues - but if we really take a close look at our government(s) we will really start to see who pulls the strings in many cases - including our beloved defense industry and auto industry and big oil and.......etc. What I like about McCain is that he is fairly well proven in his opinion to question these influences and pork barrel expenditures that each state pursues (including your defense industry state!). Money from our hard earned efforts is flying everywhere - and I'm hoping that this economic turmoil will deliver some hard edged lessons in paying real attention to our leaders and what they do on our behalf - rather than what they blather on about to win our approval. I'm so sorry for all of us that this hard lesson has come our way - red and blue, and green and brown, and orange, etc... My daughter asked me why, during one of the debates, why the candidate kept referring to us as his friend. One of the reasons I voted for Obama was that he didn't smile all the time like the other candidates - that may sound silly, but you can generally tell alot about someone that way. We owe it to our leaders to not be their friends and to not treat them like our saviour. The role of government is to govern - not a popularity contest. At least that is what I think... and sorry for rambling! God bless America!... still the best nation in the world! Vera (Michigan) :)

lesley said...

I have talked briefly with my children about the election especially the oldest (4). After the election kids were very interested in the new president. They wanted to see pictures of children and were asking how old they are.

Anonymous said...

We too supported Obama. My children would watch CNN with me every morning. A week before the election, my daughter came running up the stairs to inform me that "McCain was running out of time!" (She had been watching the news while playing with her legos.)

On Wednesday morning, my daughter ran into my room yelling, "Obama won. Obama won." She then looked at me and said, "Now he has to do everything that he promised that he'd do. That is going to be a lot of work!"

From the mouth's of babes to Obama's ears!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE the comment about your daughter running in to say 'McCain was running out of time!' How funny is that! I too took my young daughter (5) with me to vote so that she could help me make a few choices in the voting booth (after I pointed them out of course :)). When we got to our polling station I asked her who we were going to vote for and she said - 'the cupcakes' .... that's priorities for you!

Sabina said...

That photo is priceless -- I wish my kids had all worn the same!!

Happy Friday!!