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?