Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Voting with My Kids

If you know me IRL, you probably understand why I sometimes feel that I deserve an award for how completely and totally devoid of politics this little corner of the web is. I mean, you can probably discern some of my thoughts and feelings based on other things, but I don't talk about politics. And honestly, I'm not going to today.

I'm just going to talk about voting. With my kids in tow. I started taking Brynna to vote with me when she was in a carrier and I haven't stopped. I gave her the option of sleeping late this morning, but she turned me down and got up early, showered, dressed and out the door in record time to participate in our usual process.

Maren loves voting. She talks about it as soon as she first sees political ads. I gotta tell you, waiting for this election day was worse than waiting for Christmas for her.

Every year, in addition to signing in, standing with me in the booth and collecting our flag waving, "I Voted," stickers, we spend some time talking about the process. Today's topics included the difference between a democracy and a democratic republic, the workings and failings of the electoral college and the ever-present lecture on why we vote.

Sometimes, we discuss candidates on election day, but usually, we've covered all that well in advance. They know my process - how I research, how I weigh options when they seem equally good (or bad) and how I reach a decision. They know that I believe that it is important to check your sources, to be open to learning new information, but closed to gossip and advertising. They know about listening for truth in advertising by determining what the demonstrable claims are and doing your own independent research.

Honestly, this is a golden age for voting. (I know, I know, I can hear you laughing through the early exit poll results.) But think about what researching beyond the commercials used to mean and compare it to what it means now. We used to rely on newspapers and political pundits to show us the truth, but now, we have a plethora of sources on the internet. You can go directly to the source, frequent the site that reflects your own opinions or take a survey of hopefully neutral sites. There are massive amounts of information, soundbites and everything in between. You can research at your own pace and level of ability.

And are people? I don' t know. I want to say yes, because I want to believe in people, but in an election like this - and by that I mean one that is all about one (fairly useless) race while the races for those who actually make the changes are ignored - it's hard to believe.

But one thing I know for sure - if my children grow up and choose not to vote, or not to do their research, or even just not understand how voting works - it will not be because they didn't know any better. It will not be because they were unprepared for how it works, or what to do in the voting booth. It won't be because they were intimidated by going to the polling site or because they didn't know how to find a ballot in advance of the election or because they didn't have it drilled into their precious skulls that we have a responsibility to do the best with what we have.

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