how do you “teach” someone to vote?

My children have always accompanied me when I go to vote. They listen to me talk about politics, politicians and issues on a daily basis. I explain very carefully that I do not obsess over these things because I am unhappy. I focus on them because I BELIEVE in democracy. I have faith that we can elect people who do the right things for the right reasons. I care about politics because I care about people.

Progress teaching Tommy about politics? Slim. My obstacles include a relative who tells him how to vote without saying why and Tommy’s Asperger tinted view of the world. Yes, the relative and I are polar opposites politically, but I still don’t want my children to vote based on what they are told. I want them to think for themselves and vote their head and heart. Tommy’s mind processes things like a computer. Everything falls into categories and follows rules. Sarah is hooked on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Tommy doesn’t “get” sarcasm and I don’t want him to confuse entertainment with news, so I can’t use Jon and Stephen as conversation starters. I don’t want to take him to partisan events. I want him to see beyond republican and democrat. He’s also a teenage boy and it takes very little for him to become bored with Mom talking about immigration, socialized medicine and civil rights. So, I talk a teeny bit here and there while searching out videos and movies that show issues from different perspectives. Tommy has always been a History Channel junkie. Unfortunately, on-demand focuses on movies a lot more than on anything on Discovery or the History Channel. If only there was a History Channel lending library. I could seek out a grant to stock an educational library at NAMI’s Peach Cottage, but that wouldn’t happen in time to help Tommy. Tommy will be casting a vote on November 4, 2008. I am the only person trying to prepare him. Who is preparing all the other 17-year-olds?

2 thoughts on “how do you “teach” someone to vote?

  1. Good for you.

    Maybe you and Tommy could go volunteer at the homeless shelter soup kitchen for a day. Oh, wait. The GOP would tell him how it’s those people’s own fault they are in the soup line because they didn’t take personal responsibility for their circumstances.

    Or maybe you could take him to deliver Meals on Wheels one day to see seniors living barely above poverty and only because of Social Security and Medicare and the kindness of strangers. Oh, wait. The GOP would tell him it’s their own fault because they should have been putting $4000 per year in their IRA.

    (I’m still waiting on someone to explain the math on how I’m supposed to retire on that, as opposed to golden parachutes and stock options afforded corporate executives who make thousands of times what their workers make. Oh, wait, I forgot. We’re all supposed to work harder to be executives instead of workers. Once everybody is an executive… problem solved!)

    Or maybe you could take him down to the VA clinic to talk to some veterans who don’t have a local VA hospital and are wading through months of paperwork to get the benefits they are entitled to. Oh, wait. The GOP would explain that we can’t afford to help them because sending American troops to help ExxonMobile rack up record profits is more important and cost effective.

    Or maybe you could just take him to the next Knox County Commission meeting. Oh, wait. You said he doesn’t get sarcasm and processes information based on logic and stuff.

    Etc. Etc.

    Sorry, I shouldn’t presume to lecture because I don’t have kids. If I did, they’d be Young Republicans, owing to the rebellious nature of kids of every generation (like mine).

    As a disclaimer, I myself haven’t done all the things I suggested, although I have too much personal experience with people in these situations. Which is why I vote for what I believe in.

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