Kids Won This Election.

What was your immediate, personal reaction to the results of Tuesday’s presidential election? As the votes streamed in, were you elated, discouraged, relieved, enraged? Well, whether you’ve been dancing on your swivel chair or hanging your head since Tuesday’s election, I’d like to point out the true winners: kids.

 

Sometimes parents, teachers and even politicians assume that elections are too nasty, too complex, or too boring, for kids to follow. This is a mistake. Especially in an election like the one we’ve just lived through. It’s been custom-made for kids, filled with dynamic, colorful characters, plenty of grand, easy-to-grasp changes (first woman Republican VP candidate, first Black Democratic presidential nominee) and more plot twists than a Harry Potter novel. Ironically, the media has been parents’ friend here – all you’ve had to do to educate children about the political process for the past year has been to hit the power button on the radio or tv remote, or open the local newspaper. Parents’ poli sci task has never been so easy.

 

And fun, too. Even if your child covered her ears when CNN comes on, few kids failed to see the humor in Amy Pohler and Tina Fey’s Saturday Night Live skits, the Obama Presidential Playing Cards, or an eight year old dressed up as John McCain on Halloween.

 

No need to delve into the details of Obama’s tax plan or McCain’s health insurance proposal. Kids will remember the symbolic changes when they are grandparents. I was nine when Nixon resigned; I will never forget my parents, too awestruck to sit, standing in our living room watching our black and white tv screen. I vaguely remember the long gas lines and hostage crisis that plagued Jimmy Carter’s presidency; what really changed me was the fact that he had women in his cabinet.

 

Although our kids may not always agree with our specific political views – my family has been divided among the candidates for much of the past two years – children care deeply about the things their parents care about. Like so much of raising kids, getting them engaged politically comes naturally when you show that you care – by reading the newspaper, debating the issues, watching the SNL Palin rap skit 20 times in a row, taking the family to a rally, the polls, or the inauguration. The empowerment our kids feel today – years before they can possibly cast a vote – will strengthen us, and our country, for decades to come.

 

To hear Leslie and her 11 year old son Max discuss kids and politics on National Public Radio’s “Tell Me More” election day coverage, click here.

leslie morgan s...
11.06.08

Leslie Morgan Steiner
Thank you for the compliments on my son's radio debut. I will pass then along to him!

There are many reasons I voted for Obama. But to echo a lot of these posts, I'm excited at the prospect of having a true "diplomat" leading our foreign policy (hoping to repair the destruction in our international reputation wrought by the macho, bullying policies of the Bush and Reagan years), and I am beyond thrilled about the possibility of racial healing and unity in this country. Our future and our past are multicultural. It is about time we had a leader who has lived a multicultural life.

And of course -- the next best thing to having a working mom in the White House is having a man married to a working mom. Especially one as smart, thoughtful and gracious as Michelle Obama.

Can't wait to see what they do. They surely will need our support along the way, with all the challenges they face.

mommydiva79
11.06.08

I am very hopeful with Obama's presidency. I urge those who are wary of him to take their time warming up to him. he is not a "terrorist", the anti-Christ or even someone out to take away your paychecks or guns. He has a family of young children, lives in one house and is hungry for change--just like most of us. I truly believe he has what it takes to get this country back on track.

Also, I wouldn't get so worked up about rumored Cabinet members because that is just what it is--rumors. As of this moment, no one has been formally picked and Obama has a history of working across the aisle (including with Dick Lugar, who is one of the rumored Cabinet picks). Let's not bring the man down before he can even make his choices. It's only been two days!

neuromum
11.06.08

Great article and awesome interview on NPR! Your son is super cool!

LiteralDan
11.06.08

In the thick of the crowds in Grant Park last night, I was more and more elated as the night went on.

And I couldn't agree with you more-- I've been trying to make sure this sticks in my son's mind. Too bad his sister is probably too young to remember for very long.

dsam
11.06.08

As a Canadian, (living in BC), I gotta tell you this is the first time in my life I've ever been so passionately interested in American politics. I cried watching Obama's speech. What a statesman! What a time in history! Just like "oakland_m", I wasn't expecting the sort of emotional reaction I had. I felt like Americans were sort of taking back a dream. Like they were demanding something better from their nation. I don't know exactly how to describe it. I'm a 6th generation Canadian girl, and have never had a particular love for the US, (respect and friendship, yes, but didn't really 'get' the deep emotional thing ..), but last night, I think I finally did 'get it", what makes you so proud of your country. It's not perfect, but dammit, it is great.

phoenix
11.05.08

I am really thrilled about the President-elect and what the idea of HOPE and CHANGE means for our country and our world. I cried this morning when I dropped off my son and daughter at school. My credibility went up tenfold in their minds-when I shouted my usual mantra to them...Be who you are, anything is possible. My oldest shouted back, "This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad".

stacyclark
11.05.08

I was hopeful after hearing Obama's acceptance speech last night but brought back into a discouraging reality as his Presidential Cabinet appointments were publicized. The members are so liberal there will absolutely be NO possibility of bipartisanship. And it seems certain the "Change" will be "Hope"less for Republican/Chrisitan conservatives. My pray is that the constitution will still be intact in 4 years to vote Obama out of office.

oakland_mom
11.05.08

i wasn't expecting this, but i wept. as i watched obama's speech last night and thought about my own mixed-race kids being able to see children of color making their home in the white house....the tears just started flowing.