15 February 2017

Explaining politics to kids

We voted!
(November 2016)
Our kids are homeschooled, and I used Election Day as an opportunity to introduce the kids to American politics.

On Election Day they went with me to the polls and I explained why it's important for people to vote and who is permitted to vote.* Wyatt informed me that even though their dad's dog Suros should be able to vote because he's an American husky, he can't vote because he's not old enough.

One of the volunteers was kind enough to give the kids their own voting stickers, which made them feel involved.

That night, we watched the returns. Wyatt was really excited as results came in. He kept track of where the candidates were and how many points they needed to win. Eventually, he went to bed, but I promised to tell him the next morning who won.

After we left the polls the kids asked me who I voted for, and I told them I voted for Clinton. When Wyatt asked me why, I told him.

I explained that it's important that the president represent the people and make decisions that protect the health and safety of everyone who lives in the United States. That's why people get to vote for president. So that whoever is elected president is elected because that's who most of the people in the country want to lead and represent them.**

But I explained that the reason I didn't vote for Trump is that when he talked about what he wanted to do as president, he wants to do things that will hurt people instead of protecting them. I explained that a lot of people who worked with him on the campaign think that Bo and I shouldn't be married. And I explained that there are a lot of people who want to come to the United States because it's safer for them, but he doesn't want them to be allowed to be here.

To which Wyatt said, "That's silly. America is supposed to let everyone in."

Yes, my dear. That's exactly right.

When I explained to Wyatt and Lilly that Trump won the election, they were disappointed in their don't-quite-understand-it way. They knew I voted for Clinton, so they wanted her to win. And they know that I don't like the outcome. They know I'm worried about what the new administration is going to do.

So I reminded them of the importance of voting. I told them that when they're old enough it's important to vote so their voices are heard, and so they can be sure that whoever is in charge -- at whatever level -- is working to protect people. And I told them that if the people in charge aren't doing their jobs, it's important for them to speak up about it and make changes. That it's their right and duty as Americans to be active in their government.

They get it.

They're five and seven years old.

*I kept it simple: Americans of at least 18 years old.
**Again. Keeping it simple, y'all.

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