My Two Week Political Binge
It’s Friday and I am hungover. The political conventions are over and I am spinning with visions of PBS in my head. I need coffee. The last two weeks I have been watching speakers and checking facts and tweeting and explaining what all this is to my kids. I know it’s all a big scripted show. (Unless, of course, you are talking with an empty chair. Sorry, low hanging fruit, I couldn’t resist.) So, yes, it is a scripted, highly produced spectacular about how great each candidate is and their vision for the future of the United States. And I love it.
Growing up my family kept up on current events. Are my parents Republican or Democrat? I honestly don’t know. Mom, Dad , my brother and I would talk about current events – 80s happenings – and we almost never agreed. We had a say, though. My brother and I were expected to debate. We were expected to engage in the conversation and have an educated opinion. We were also expected to be open-minded and listen to others’ point of view. Mom and Dad have opinions. Strong opinions. My dad especially has a tendency to get on rants about this and that. I asked him once who he voted for in an election. Once is the key word. His reply? “Its nobody else’s business for whom you vote. The important thing is that you always vote.” Then he went on about how the US is a great country, all the hopes of his family when they arrived in the US many moons ago, and how anybody in the US can do anything they put their mind to… you get the idea. So, is he a Republican? Democrat? Libertarian? Communist? (j/k Dad, just wanted to see if you really read these posts) I don’t know. We’ve always discussed multiple sides of an issue. He and my mom would let us decide for ourselves. At times this has not worked in their favor, mind you.
Back to my political hangover.
My kids have been asking what all the hubbub is about and why I am watching all this. I explain that we Americans will be electing a new president in a few short months and that these two, Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are asking for our votes. President Obama is up for re-election and we get to decide whether we want for him to continue to be president for another four years or if we want Mitt Romney to be president instead. Many questions from the kids.
Why is President Obama only president for four years? Wasn’t there a president that stayed in office for twelve years? What if a president dies while in office? What’s the difference who is president? Who are you voting for, Mom? Why aren’t there any little kids with Mitt Romney? Do you think Sasha and Malia like living in the White House? I bet they don’t want to move again.
I tried to be even. I told them about term limits. I told him about Republicans and Democrats as age appropriate and diplomatic as I could. As my parents, I have strong political opinions. However, I am not comfortable with my children becoming little parrots around school and town spouting off all my political points of view. As they grow, I want for them to decide for themselves. (I think so, anyway.) Since Paul Ryan is from our native Wisconsin, I may have spent a little more time talking about where he grew up and how he is now a pretty big deal in Congress and will be the Vice President if Mitt Romney gets elected. This led into the conversation about how a person can go into politics and what the qualifications are to run for Congress and President. It was a nice talk.
So over the last day or so, during the Democratic Party’s National Convention, the conversation had turned to, “Mom, who are you voting for?” I told them I wasn’t sure yet, (liar, liar), that both are smart, qualified candidates and that I was going to do some additional reading prior to making my decision (pants on fire). Maybe not totally a lie. True, both candidates are smart men. True, both have been deemed worthy to represent their parties in the election and will be on the ballot. True, both are well-educated and have support of many people. False, I have not yet made a decision.
I turned the question to them. I said, “You have seen some of the speeches and I told you about each candidate. Who would you like to see get elected?” Mid answered first. “I would like to see Mitt Romney get elected and have a turn. We are supposed to let people take turns, right? And Obama has already been president. Romney has been trying to be president for a really long time, according to the person on the TV.” Okay. Taking turns is a nice sentiment. Jaybird went next. “I want Obama to stay President, because I don’t want his daughters to have to move into a different house again. And the other guy he is always with (Joe Biden) is funny.” Apparently she has internalized some issues about our relocation and has picked up on how Joe Biden can be quite entertaining. I turned to Apprentice and asked the question. He replied that he is not interested, as neither plays hockey and we live in Canada. Alrighty, then.
Jaybird had the comment of the night, however, when she went on to ask, “Why are there no women running for President? I want there to be a woman President. That would be cool.” I agreed. That would be cool, I told her, I would like to see a woman get elected President also.
So how did I do presenting the candidates in an unbiased, diplomatic, age appropriate manner? Not perfect, by any stretch, but perhaps somewhere between Fox News and MSNBC.