My fourth grade class was debating yesterday as to who should win the election today. I just sat back and listened to their reasoning. Or lack of reasoning. But, one thing is clear, they repeat what they hear in their household, and in the end, most of the reasoning I heard was well, scary. I think I heard three students say something that made me feel their parents are informed.
When I was in fourth grade, if someone asked me who was president, I may have replied, John F. Kennedy. Oh sure, I knew he had died on my parent’s anniversary several years before I was in fourth grade, and I knew that the gunman was gunned down by some night club owner, but I didn’t know who took his place. Wait. That’s a lie. I remember my grandfather talking about “LBJ, that goddamn snake in the grass.” So, our president was LBJ….Grandpa liked Ike, whoever the hell that was. Later, I found out it was Eisehower, who was president before “that catholic boy.” My grandfather was all about being a republican. But, I was nine years old and had important things to do like go to Campfire Girls meetings and play chinese jump rope. I didn’t care about politics. The only thing I knew at the time was that presidents used initials and short nicknames instead of their names….Ike….JFK…..LBJ. I was VLM. My friend Ramaine was RAC. Lori was LAM, and LeeAnn was LAW. I was pissed because my middle name messed everything up. I could never have pretty monogrammed towels.
And kids really didn’t pay attention to who was running for president back then. But, that changed when we baby boomers had kids and talked about it more and the kids listened. Why did they listen? Well, because our kids stayed indoors more than we did when we were young. We were outside as long as it wasn’t storming. Well, my mom forbade it to lightning on Woodland Estates, so we were outside most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, my kids played outside plenty, but the mid 80′s were different than the mid 60′s. Kids of the mid 80′s listened because they were around the parents more.
My daughter became a big fan of CNN when she was little. She liked Tucker Carlson and his bow tie. She became interested in the environment when she was very young, getting mad at the Harrison Power Plant and its wicked plume of black smoke that came out of the stack. She was in tune. Both of my kids were. So, they listened. She pointed out later, “Mom, you are so not a Republican. And Dad……he is definitely not a Democrat.” They listened and picked up on things. And she was right. I changed my party years later so I could vote for Obama.
But, back to my fourth graders. I let them go at each other. One said that Romney hated the Earth. Another said that Obama was going to close all of the coal mines in the state. (West Virginia)
“I’m voting for Romney. Obama doesn’t believe in God.”
“I’m voting for Obama because Romney is a Mormon.” When asked what a Mormon was, the child told me, “It’s a man who has a lot of wives…and that is just wrong.” Another boy added, “I think having a bunch of wives is wrong….but if they could cook, it might not be so bad.”
“Romney is going to win because Obama is going to make rich people pay more taxes.” I asked if his family is rich. “Yes, my mom works at Walmart.” A girl laughed and replied, “Working at Walmart doesn’t make you rich. You have to win the lottery if you want to be really rich.”
“Obama is a terrorist. His middle name is a terrorist name.” I asked him what Obama’s middle name is. “Something like Muslim or something.” Another child laughed at his response. “Muslim is not a middle name. It’s something you sew with.” Um, okay, muslin is a cotton. Points scored for knowing fabric.
In the end, their rants and reasons for voting for their respective candidates were highly amusing…and sad at the same time. I had to wonder:
Do people really understand the issues or do they vote because of what they hear from others the same way children form opinions from watching and listening to their parents and believing it is right and just?
It that is the case, which I think it is in a majority of people, we would always see the proverbial snake in the grass.
The important thing today is to exercise your right to make a decision of some kind. It may not be for the best reasons, but we are lucky to be in a country where we are free to make a choice, even if is because you just like the man. Reagan received a lot of votes because people just liked him as a person. If that alone makes you get in your car and stand in a line to vote, then good for you.
Just please vote.