Bill was out of town when McCain announced his pick for VP. Hoping to elevate the dinner table conversation above the usual juvenile prattle, I brought up politics. Politics are okay to discuss at my dinner table, as long as it remains polite, which means avoiding phrases like “let me tell you exactly why you’re wrong on that” (you know who you are).
We talked about the three branches of government. We talked about the two bodies that comprise Congress. I explained the two-party system, and I identified the three senators who are on their party’s tickets. We talked about who the governors were, and how one governor had been selected to run on one ticket.
“Some people say that Governor Palin shouldn’t run because she has children at home – even a little baby,” I said. “What do you think?”
“Well,” said Billy, “they have a dad don’t they?”
It’s funny how kids can get right to the heart of things, don’t you think? Even though my brood would be the first to vote their own dad out of office of main caretaker, they do recognize that we’re a team in these efforts. Often I will tell them I am going somewhere and they will ask, “Who will babysit us?” I tell them that their father will be their dad while I am gone. He’s not stepping in to do my job, rather he’s going to his own job (just without me around to tell him how to do it better!).
Yesterday, we took a field trip for our private special interest class on political science. We went to a McCain-Palin rally. I left Jenny and Peter at my friend’s house and took her three older children along. It was fun. Cheering, shouting, loud music, clapping. We sat under a shady tree and ate banana-chocolate chip muffins and cookies and listened to the rhetoric. The kids climbed the tree and could get glimpses of the candidates.
I can’t help but be somewhat cynical when I hear candidates talk about bringing change. Change does not come swiftly in Washington. Presidents do not enact laws or raise taxes. Laws take years to go into effect anyway. I’m not saying that the executive branch is ineffective. I’m merely saying that no matter who is elected, I don’t expect the world to be radically different one year from today. If you’re going to talk about change, you need to talk about patience. But in a microwave-lunch, fast food-dinner culture, nobody wants to hear that change will take 4 to 8 years to happen.
My kids aren’t old enough to vote, but I want to make this election (all elections) memorable for them. This is history in the making, no matter who wins.