Politics for 10 Year Olds.
by Kristy Campbell
The California gubernatorial race this past election was ugly and full of negative character assaults and political ads that addressed personal issues rather than issues of social, educational, or environmental concern. In the weeks leading up to the election, politics and leadership were nightly topics at my house as I tried to explain the American political process to the kids.
One night, while I was watching television with my 10-year twins, a couple of political ads came on during a commercial break. My daughter said, “I don’t get why they have to be so mean to each other. “ My son jumped in, “you have to be mean to be in politics. It’s part of the job…you lie and make up stuff to get people to believe what you want them to believe.”
I was stunned at the level of his insight. American politics has certainly become more about the massacre than the message.
The political discussion was timely, as Student Government elections were concurrently happening in the kids’ schools. The school halls were filled with posters carrying supportive messages and new ideas. In explaining my theory on where politics has gone awry, I had asked my kids to imagine the kids running for office in their school. I then asked them to imagine if the school allowed negative campaigns and smear tactics instead of keeping the focus on “kind words, positive messages.” I explained that it would be allowable to put up big posters all over school saying:
“Michael took an extra juice box from the lunch line in 1st grade! He can’t be trusted!!”
“Georgia is mean and ugly and you should hate her!”
“This school sucks!!”
The kids’ eyes about popped out of their heads. I was on a roll.
“Michael used to POOP HIS PANTS! Do you really want him as President?”