No matter the party, politics is a game. At times rehearsed and at others unprepared, it is a labyrinth of strategies and surprising outcomes.
Politics can make you laugh at the television and scream at the computer. It can make your blood boil. Like nails on a chalkboard, I force myself to listen. If we want to understand and comprehend, we sit through it like a torturous high school physics class.
Each morning at 6 a.m. I pack school lunches to MSNBC’s Morning Joe. It’s an early morning political and current events talk show. I enjoy it because it’s informative and real with representation of both parties.
By 6:30 a.m., the kids are eating breakfast and talking about their daily plans and obligations. Whether they like it or not, they sit with their Cheerios and orange juice along with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. I don’t always understand the history of certain campaigns or politicians. We listen together, while Joe and Mika give the quick fact flashbacks to satisfy our uncertainty.
With the primaries in full swing, the process of elimination resembles a carnival game. Pay your fifty cents, aim at the ballon and see which ones pop. In a dramatic sense, I see a stage with lights, costumes with flair and actors performing; all trying to convince and persuade. An audience capable of applauding, booing and cheering is also part of the presentation.
Whether it’s during the overture, performance or intermission, it’s an act of watching and waiting to see who makes the most damning statement.
It’s actually quite humorous. Watching Herman Cain make reference to the Pokemon movie caused even the most uninformed to do a double take, take a pregnant pause and stop in their tracks. Instead of using expected famous quotes of such political figures as JFK, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, or even Bono, Cain’s Pokemon poetry left most feeling breathless. Unfortunately, my kids understood the Pokemon comparison.
Start at the local level. Give your kids a visual, maybe draw out their government to resemble a tree. Talk about the length of terms. Show them their representatives' websites, read theiir bios and platforms, their political views. Help them understand the accessibility and freedom to communicate with their political leaders. You could even take them to a meet-and-greet with their congressman at the grocery store.
Find a way to generate familiarity and interest. Explain to them the importance of voting. Compare our country with others and reflect on the privilege that we as Americans have in doing so.
Kids tend to ask the most basic, but also the most relevant, questions. We often forget they are free thinkers and have an incredible ability to state the obvious in a way that makes adults think. No matter your party, it’s important that children know who’s in the primary, witness the debate process and understand the uncertainty of polls.
Politics also generate topics we often hold back from discussing. Not for fear of our children realizing truth, but for our uncertainty of a proper format for understanding. For example, their questions of same-sex marriage, a woman’s right to choose, tax rates, the uninsured and Occupy Wall Street have recently been on the menu.
With all the political performances in the upcoming year, I hope my kids one day will recognize this effort and be able to hold their own with any unforeseen political conversation.