Getting Political with Kids
As my kids and I pulled into the local community center parking lot this morning, ready to cast a vote in the GOP primary, the past 10 years of voting sort of flashed before my eyes. I had visions of all the times my children have accompanied me to the ballot box, all the campaign events they’d already been to in their short years of life, and I was overcome with pride.
When my daughter was two, she rode alongside me to South Carolina and Florida, campaigning for the Bush-Cheney re-election. She had adopted cute little catch phrases along the way, which she recited daily, charming everyone from the Publix cashier to her preschool teachers: “Laura Bush is a cwassy wady!”; “John Kerry is a flip-flopper” (which made her giggle every time she said it); and “Vote for George ‘n Cheney!” Campaigning in Jacksonville on that warm November day in 2008, I feel sure that my daughter helped President George W. Bush bring it home in Florida.
Over the years, we’ve traveled to surrounding states to attend FairTax rallies, and worked on other campaigns – some not so successful – but what my kids are learning along the way is that it takes active citizenship to make a difference. They see other people sitting around complaining about their status in life, but I’m proud to say that my children know that action is the only solution to a problem.
This morning, I talked them through the entire voting experience yet again, explaining why we show our ID and voter’s registration card, why it’s necessary to still complete the form, why the “ballot” looks like a credit card, how to cast an electronic vote and so forth. At one point, my oldest looked up at me in that tween way and said, “Moooom, we know.” And I was rewarded.
We voted and were out of there, peach-covered “I’m a Georgia Voter” sticker on each of us, in less than 15 minutes. Much to their chagrin, I made them stop outside the precinct and pose for a picture next to the “Vote Here” sign. When I looked through the lens, though, I felt my eyes well up with tears. My kids were actually excited to be there with me. Like me, they see voting as an honor, not an obligation (though one day I’ll teach them that it is a little of both).
I know it will only be a few more years – just two more presidential elections – until my daughter will be voting for the very first time. Regardless of which way she ends up voting, I feel sure I have instilled in her the importance of active citizenship. I hope she takes me to the polls with her.