Patterico's Pontifications


Lauren Learns About Politics

Filed under: 2008 Election,General — Patterico @ 7:02 pm

One thing that has been fun about this election has been the children who are becoming interested in politics, sometimes because of mock elections at their school.

For example, Beldar had a conversation with his eighth-grade daughter Molly about spreading the wealth around. Our own nk tells about his six-year-old daughter’s discussion with a PTA mom who clearly favored Obama, in which nk’s daughter compellingly justifies her vote for McCain in a mock election.

Great stuff.

My daughter Lauren, who is eight, asked me a bunch of questions the other day about the candidates, because her school was having a mock election. I discussed various issues with her, and told her that I support McCain, but that her mother supports Obama. Her mom was out of town with friends, so I had to present the arguments for both candidates, which I attempted to do without brainwashing her. I asked Mrs. P. later whether I made the right arguments, and she said I had (though she would no doubt accuse me of having more enthusiasm for the pro-McCain arguments).

We discussed all sorts of issues, including surveillance of suspected terrorists, the rule of law and philsophies of judging, a little bit on taxes, and various other issues.

Lauren ended up voting for John McCain. I’m so proud!

We just got back from voting, and I asked her tonight to write up something short about why she voted for McCain. Here’s what she said:

Hi! I’m Lauren. I voted at my school. I voted for John McCain! I voted for him ’cause I think he is better. Why do I think he is better? Here is an example. If a kid was being a brat and another kid was being super nice,but the kid that was being nice wasn’t tall enough for a ride Obama’s judges would say”You’re only a little bit to short and you’re being nice so you can go on the ride.” Then the kid might fall off and get hurt. McCain’s judges would say “Sorry, but you are to short.” That is why I voted for McCain. I hope you did too. Bye!

She typed the first several sentences herself — up to and including the words “You’re only” — but she’s a slow typist and her bedtime is approaching, so I had her write out the rest by hand, and I faithfully transcribed it. (I told her how to spell “judges.” She initially wanted to spell it “judies,” and you wouldn’t have understood what she was saying. Also, I’ll have to tell her how to spell “too” when it means “also” — but I left it as is, for the authenticity.)

This reasoning probably requires some explanation.

I told her that one of the main reasons I support McCain is because of the type of judges he would pick. I said that the difference between McCain’s judges and Obama’s judges is basically that McCain’s judges emphasize following the rules, and Obama’s judges emphasize being fair.

I gave her an example: let’s say that there is a rule that says a kid has to be four feet tall to ride a rollercoaster. There are two kids: one who has been a brat all day, but is barely tall enough to ride. Another has been really nice all day, and is half an inch too short. There is a judge — not their parent — who is supposed to decide whether they’re tall enough to ride the ride. That’s the judge’s only job.

I explained that a McCain judge would probably tell the kid who is too short: “You’re too short.” And he would tell the bratty kid that he’s tall enough.

An Obama judge would probably tell the kid who is too short: “Hey, you’re close enough.” And he might tell the bratty kid that he can’t ride, because he’s been a brat.

At first, she said that she liked Obama’s judges better. I said: my opinion is that if someone has been a brat, their parents should be the ones to decide if they can ride the ride or not — but the judge should decide only whether the kid is tall enough. If a judge lets a kid on who is too short, it’s probably not going to be a huge problem if they’re only a half-inch too short — but what if you let on a kid who is three inches too short? or six inches? or a foot? Eventually, the kid might be so short that they might fall off.

I emphasized that this was an analogy, and that Obama’s (or McCain’s) judges would not be ruling on who gets to ride a rollercoaster. But of all the issues we discussed, this is the one that seemed to stick with her.

Anyway, I have told her that Obama will probably win, and she was sad. “I don’t want Obama to be my President!” she said. I told her that McCain and Obama are both good men — and although I disagree with Obama, if he wins, we have to say: “Oh well, we tried. But he will still be my President.”

She’s still not very happy. Nor am I. But I want her to learn that no matter who wins, he’s a good man trying to do what he thinks is right for the country.

48 Responses to “Lauren Learns About Politics”

  1. Except Obama is not a good man. He’s a liar and a thug. He’s not a patriot. He’s not a good man. Ayers, Wright, Davis, Khalidi, Pfleger, et al are not good men.

    Jimmy Carter was once seen as a good man (not so sure any more). Humphrey, Mondale, McGovern, were good men. The Kennedys were not. Clinton is not. Neither is Edwards.

    To say that Obama is a good man is to denigrate good men the world over. He may be our next president, but he’s not a good man.

    [I disagree. I’m uncomfortable with a lot of the company he has kept. I would advise my own children not to keep such company. But we shouldn’t demonize the man. — P]

    Stan (5fee5a)

  2. An Obama judge would probably tell the kid who is too short: “Hey, you’re close enough.” And he might tell the bratty kid that he can’t ride, because he’s been a brat.

    My analogy is that a society dominated by liberal policymaking and the people who embrace that is similar to a household headed by very flaky, very permissive, very naive parents. The kids of such parents will do okay if they tend to be naturally very self-disciplined, self-restrained, resourceful people. But if the children of those parents tend to be brats and delinquents who love to take advantage of and manipulate permissive, feel-good, corner-cutting adults, WATCH out!!

    Mark (411533)

  3. In her Bay Area school my 7 year-old voted for McCain.

    Her class voted 19 for Obama, 2 for McCain

    I think she chose McCain just because her parents voted for him. (My wife voted Republican for the first time.) She’s still looking forward to a new president, because the current White House resident has been in office her entire life.

    That’s great how you were able to explain the issue to your daughter.

    aunursa (c07e29)

  4. She’s still not very happy. Nor am I. But I want her to learn that no matter who wins, he’s a good man trying to do what he thinks is right for the country.

    Good post Patterico. I hope there are many parents doing as you did.

    voiceofreason2 (796177)

  5. Tell Lauren her aunt is very proud of her! And concerned for all of those sheep out there…

    yourlilsis (095089)

  6. Yet again, kudos for being honorable in your approach to the potential election results. One way Republicans can immediately redeem some credibility after this hard-fought race, and set a foundation for 2012, will be to avoid the endless whining about losing (if they lose) that the Democrats displayed in 2000, and to a lesser extend in 2004.

    So forget about carping on voter fraud or the unfair mass media. The more Republicans in general say Obama is a “good man trying to do what he thinks is right for the country” the faster they’ll be in play for challenging Obama in four years.

    Phil (3b1633)

  7. True dat. Instead of carping about voter fraud, do something about it.

    Adriane (b8ecd8)

  8. Who knows what Barack Obama stands for?

    He’s comfortable saying just about anything. He’ll spout off about a “civilian national security force” and bankrupting people who build coal plants, like it’s nothing.

    It’s insane. The only principle he’s ever stood up for is I’m-Always-Right. After he blew the “preconditions” question, he based his foreign policy position on that gaffe. He’s going to be fickle, and he’s going to make mistakes, and then he’s going to double down on those mistakes just to prove to us all that he was right all along.

    NOBODY KNOWS what he is going to do. He has until January 20th to figure it out. Who is going to be advising him? Look out for all of the anti-Israel advisers he threw under the bus during the election season.

    And of course, he thanked the press for being “gracious” to him. What a dramatic understatement. They gave him a free pass.

    Daryl Herbert (4ecd4c)

  9. Better Half had someone email her an anecdote, which I found amusing. A couple is going into a local restaurant, and sees a panhandler on the sidewalk out front. They get seated at their table for their meal, and their waiter has an Obama button on his shirt, and chats them up about politics. After their meal, the bill comes, and the couple signs their credit card receipt, and hands it to the waiter. He says to them that they forgot their tip. They respond that since his candidate says we should spread the wealth, they will be giving his tip to the homeless guy.

    JD (5b4781)

  10. That has to be the best explanation yet…..perfect!

    Old Tanker (41ba6a)

  11. So forget about carping on voter fraud or the unfair mass media

    Voter fraud did not win this election, but is something that a democracy should never tolerate. The Left is comfortable with it so long as they win. That is sad.

    The unfair media is a fact. We could no more ignore that fact than we could denounce our typical white person or our Church.

    JD (5b4781)

  12. I don’t know who told her, but today my daughter told me that a “dark person” has never been President either. “Race” is something we have tried very hard not to let her learn.

    My daughter has brown hair and brown eyes. I pointed out there are blond, blue-eyed kids in her class and that she is darker than them, that there other kids who are darker than she is, and that there are other kids who are even darker than those kids. I told her that color means nothing. That all people look different.

    I think she accepted what I told her. For now.

    nk (95bfab)

  13. For example, Beldar had a conversation with his eighth-grade daughter Molly about spreading the wealth around.

    Conservatives are cognitively equivalent to tweens. That’s hardly surprising, is it?

    jpe (5320bf)

  14. Anyone else want to be a jerk for the sake of being a jerk, in a thread about children and politics? You can join jpe in moderation.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  15. [I’m deleting this comment, which I agree with, because it’s not necessary to start an argument in this thread. I have banished jpe to moderation for bad judgment in trying to start a fight in this thread. — P]

    JD (5b4781)

  16. No more nastiness in this thread. Lauren may want to read the responses to what she said. I don’t want her to read people insulting each other.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  17. Your last paragraph made me cry.

    The way the American people have chosen is devastating to me. To me, Obama is only a symptom of a much larger problem: citizenship defined down and to the left.

    Patricia (ee5c9d)

  18. Dear Patterico:

    Nice post, and nicer that you booted off some of the trolls. There are pro-Obama posters here who are civil and actually contribute to discussion and exchange of ideas. But there are too many cybervandals who just like to cause trouble and be rude…all for the sake of the equivalent of playground taunting.

    I have a “mixed family,” as you do—my in-laws are very left of center. They tolerate me for being rightwards of their own views. I remember earlier in the season, when my father in law started ranting about how “stupid” Republicans are, and only “Republican thieves” vote that way (from very well to do people, as a matter of fact).

    My mother-in-law, who has roasted me many times for my political beliefs, sat in shock. I don’t think that she had really, truly seen how “her side” demonized “the other side.”

    She has been very polite to me since, and asked me many questions about why I believe what I believe. I won’t change her mind, and she won’t change mine. But she saw, from her own husband, how partisanship can lead to boorishness.

    That doesn’t mean that I don’t worry about a President Obama’s judgement. I do. But it sure looks like he is my President, or will be. I simply detest those “Selected not Elected” and “Not my President” bumper stickers.

    I want “my side” to have more class and maturity.

    Your post is an example of that. Because I promise you, if it was going the other way, DK and DU would be insane in the membrane about now.

    Eric Blair (a723e0)

  19. Oh, one more thing, about my own children, and my students on campus.

    My five year old announced that he had “voted” for John McCain in YMCA today (I actually don’t like the YMCA doing this, since I know for a fact that the folks running the YMCA are very, very fervent supporters of Obama). I asked him why, and he told me “Because he used to fly airplanes off ships, and you have to be brave to do it.”

    Fair enough.

    My 8 year old told me he “voted” from Barack Obama. When I asked him why, he told me that it was because no one “African American” had been President before. Though I try not to influence my kids with my own politics, I did ask him to think about which was more important: how you look or how you would make rules.

    He thought long and hard. Then he asked if he could change his vote.

    You see, last week we talked about “fairness.” My 8 year old was telling me that fairness was “most important” and “Obama wants things to be fair.”

    So I asked my son how many Bakugan figures he had, and how many his little brother had. And did he want to give some of those figures to his little brother? After all, it was fair.

    No, he exclaimed, he had done chores for those Bakugan figures!

    Bit by bit, I hope my son will see that merit is more important than fairness. And that fairness can be used to take away as well as to give.

    On campus today, many of the undergraduates were discussing this kind of thing as well. I hope that the “change” that they crave yields results of which they approve. “Change,” in and of itself, is not necessarily good.

    That goes for all of us….

    Eric Blair (a723e0)

  20. Patrick…
    Congratulations on Lauren being able to differentiate between your & you’re.
    If she starts commenting here, she’ll be several points up over some that come by.
    I’m confident she’ll pick up on “too” very soon.
    “Judges”, on the other hand, can be a daunting challenge.

    Another Drew (184a22)

  21. Patricia, as always your comment is thoughtful. This from NRO so resonates with me,

    The world that McCain understood and operated in is vanishing, and tonight is visible evidence.

    Its ironic that young miss Lauren now has a more accurate understanding of the next POTUS than many adults who voted for him. Amazing what a conscientious parent can do.

    Dana (79a78b)

  22. Sorry, Patterico.

    JD (5b4781)

  23. Eric, I have a “mixed family” as well. In addition to my cynicism about the Bush legacy (with the lack of financial conservatism he’s shown) I have nieces and nephews of mixed race. I’m especially thrilled for my 7-year-old nephew, an olive-skinned, curly-haired little boy, who will grow up thinking that there’s no question that he could be president if he wanted to be, and tried hard enough.

    I’m opposed to Obama probably 75 percent of the time on economics. But he’s going to bring unity to this country in ways that will surprise some people, I’m sure. Because he represents a group of people who until this year hadn’t really considered themselves even contenders for president.

    Phil (3b1633)

  24. For all intents and purposes the election is over and Obama has won. Congratulations to him and to his supporters who worked hard to help him win.

    Congratulations also to McCain, for whom I voted, for his efforts.

    I wish Obama success as our President for the next 4 years.

    Stu707 (7fb2e7)

  25. [the comments I wanted to make]

    There. I censored myself. The things I’d like to say would not be helpful. They wouldn’t even help me feel better. I am very worried for the path our nation is embarking upon.

    I think it’s great that you’ve been able to explain some of the issues of this difficult campaign to your child, Pat. But I can tell you from experience that it gets harder, not easier. The first time I had to tell my children what ab***on was, I could not find a way to make it anything less than a horror, and when partial-b***h ab***on became a prominent issue it simply became nightmarish to describe. How could my children learn this about their country, or about the leaders of their country, and still feel respect for the political process that led to this?

    My children have turned out fine. But my country? May God have mercy on us.

    BitterClinger (9ca635)

  26. But he’s going to bring unity to this country in ways that will surprise some people, I’m sure.

    What makes you believe this?

    JD (5b4781)

  27. I can understand congratulating President-elect Obama. He won the election.

    I have a hard time understanding conservatives who wish him “success” as our president. [#24] In what should we hope he succeeds? Removing the small restraints on ab***on that have been so hard won over the last few years? (The word excised in deference to the tender years of Patterico’s daughter.) Should we hope he succeeds in eliminating secret ballots in union elections? Perhaps we should hope that he is successful in nationalizing health care (as the commercials on Fox all night keep pleading for), or that he manages to tilt the economic playing field further against producers, or that he gets to achieve a solid majority on the Supreme Court for a judiciary that will edit our Constitution to more closely resemble European values.

    Congratulations? Sure.

    Success? I hope he has the hardest time in his life getting anything done on the list of things he wants to do.

    BitterClinger (9ca635)

  28. The Left got what they want. It is all on them now.

    JD (5b4781)

  29. Speaking of children, my youngest is scheduled to meet with a recruiter from the National Guard tomorrow. I’m not saying anything – but I suspect that this might change the picture for him.

    BitterClinger (9ca635)

  30. Bitter – If your youngest chooses to join the Guard, godspeed. The CIC should not really change the fundamentals behind that decision.

    JD (5b4781)

  31. I think Presidential elections can make children, teens and even young adults worry. They haven’t lived long enough to remember many Presidential elections so they are more likely to perceive elections as dramatic life-changing events rather than part of a normal political process. (That’s probably also why it’s easier to convince 18-to-24-year-olds that This Is The Most Important Election Of Your Life.)

    It also worries kids to see political disagreement in society, something that makes them feel as uncertain as adults have during the current turmoil in the stock and financial markets. Uncertainty makes all of us worry that bad things could happen.

    I’ve reassured my son that although I think this election will result in changes that are not a good idea, we can always work to change those things in the future. In the meantime, I encouraged him to remember that this election is part of a process that has happened before and will happen again. Unlike so many people of the world who don’t get to choose their leaders, we are very lucky indeed.

    DRJ (cb68f2)

  32. JD, I’d like to understand that better. Your help would be welcome. My family does not have a history of military service. I would be very very proud of my son if he chose to make that commitment, and I have encouraged it even though my wife is somewhat doubtful. But I can’t help but believe that the CIC makes a very big difference, since he not only chooses in what cause my child’s life might be risked, but he may even, in some circumstances, be a part of the cause of that conflict.

    My comments tonight might seem bitter, as the screen name implies. I hope you can see now why I might be especially sore.

    BitterClinger (9ca635)

  33. DRJ, you’re very right and I appreciate the sentiment. I taught my kids all through the Clinton years and we all learned just how durable freedom really is. On the other hand, during each one of those 8 years another million or more lives were lost in the ab***on holocaust. I’ve fought that war since even before 1973, when I was in high school. And I am simply worn out. It is SO hard to continue to be positive.

    President Elect Obama says he has hope that “we will get there.” I’m afraid that he may be right – and that I will not like where we arrive at all. “Remaking this nation… brick by brick…” Oh, God…

    BitterClinger (9ca635)

  34. BitterClinger – I served under President Clinton. If you are choosing to serve your country, it should not be a partisan choice. I guess what I am saying is that if you are joining for the right reasons, it does not matter who is in the White House.

    JD (5b4781)

  35. Hey Patterico, with all due respect, why do you say that Barack Obama is a good man? The man attended a racist church, embraced anti-American radicals, and was deeply involved with corrupt individuals and illegal activities as a state senator. At the national level, he distinguished himself as someone who could not be trusted to keep his word, who welcomed special interest payoffs, and who attempted to undermine a foreign policy accomplishment of the sitting president for political gain. During his poitical campaign, he denigrated American soldiers, made baseless accusations of racism, accepted millions of dollars in donations of dubious origin and legality, attempted to silence critics with thuggish threats and tactics, and encouraged voter fraud. This list is by no means complete, but it’s hardly the works of a “good man”. What do you see in him that I am missing?

    Joe (98b642)

  36. JD, I’ll pass along your words to my son in the morning. He’s a senior in high school – wants to be an engineer – is thriving in AP Calculus – and he’ll be talking to the recruiter after he gets out of his play practice.

    Until now the prospect of his enlistment didn’t really phase me. Now I guess I have to look at that much like we have to view the prospects of our national future… with fervent prayer.

    BitterClinger (9ca635)

  37. Thanks for the encouragement.

    BitterClinger (9ca635)

  38. BitterClinger,

    I doubt you would let your kids quit a class because they made a “B” or a “C” instead of an “A,” and I know you wouldn’t let them drop out because they had less than an “A” average. You would probably compliment their efforts and encourage them to keep trying. Why should there be a different standard for adults like you and me?

    As for the military, I would want my son (or daughter, if I had one) to think long and hard about that career before committing to it, and especially to realize that during his career it’s likely he will be expected to follow causes he does not believe in and leaders he does not like. But if he believes it’s the career for him, I don’t think there’s a more vital mission or a better group of people in America.

    DRJ (cb68f2)

  39. Bitter – I apologize for getting all preachy. That was just my two cents …

    Choosing a career in the military service, in my eyes, is as honorable of a choice as one can make. If he chooses that path, good on him.

    JD (5b4781)

  40. “leaders he may not like”? Absolutely. There are lots of people I might not want to spend the evening with, but that I could still respect.

    “causes he may not believe in”? That’s tougher. In a military career my son will have to be prepared to kill someone – or to be killed – for the cause in which he fights. In that case it had better be a cause worth killing or dying for. I recognize a wide leeway in that – realizing how differently we may all interpret our nation’s policy needs and that one person may see a conflict as absolutely necessary for our nation’s freedom and another not.

    But what if that cause is not right? Obama’s values, as I can see them so far, are very far away from mine. I’m not sure at all that I could avoid a crisis of conscience serving under his leadership.

    But thanks, DRJ. I know many people who are, or have been, in military service. And they are the best people I know.

    BitterClinger (9ca635)

  41. Bitter – You do not sign up to follow orders based on your interpretation of whether or not the cause is right. You sign up to serve our country, and follow the lawful orders of the CIC and your chain of command. It is certainly not a decision to be taken lightly.

    JD (5b4781)

  42. It certainly is a serious decision, especially if it means that your conscience is now captive to someone else. Perhaps that is why I toyed with the idea for years, but never took the step. The Navy continued to write me until I was 45 – they needed chaplains pretty badly – but although I could give my life for my country, I cannot give my conscience.

    Good night all. If I can sleep, it’s time for this night to be over.

    BitterClinger (9ca635)

  43. Godspeed, BC.

    JD (5b4781)

  44. That was a good article in NRO, Dana. I like Steyn’s way of putting it: the new motto is “ask not what your country can do for you, demand it.”

    Ah well, tomorrow is another day.

    Patricia (ee5c9d)

  45. A good post, Patrick.

    This election has piqued Irene’s interest in politics, as well, and she’s asked me to talk to her more about it and share my views. It won’t be easy, of course, but like you, I will make an earnest try at presenting both liberal and conservative points of view fairly.

    Tim McGarry (9fe080)

  46. Comment by BitterClinger — 11/4/2008 @ 8:30 pm

    “God protects fools, children, and the United States.”

    Another Drew (579482)

  47. “She’s still not very happy. Nor am I. But I want her to learn that no matter who wins, he’s a good man trying to do what he thinks is right for the country.”

    If only the losing party would think that, no matter who gets elected. As of this moment, you’re the first pro-Republican writer I’ve come across who has graciously decided to accept Obama as president. I suppose that would mean that most Republicans don’t feel the same way. Yet I’m pretty sure that if McCain won, there’d be loads of abuse being hurled by Democrats today.

    If both Democrats and Republicans are so belligerent, wouldn’t that mean that no matter which party wins, the new president will never be able to enjoy the support of the full nation? That’s a real pity, isn’t it?

    I’m not even American, but it jars me sometimes, that the free capital of the world is still so primitive in the way its people vote.

    By the way, why does every Republican believe that Obama’s “distribution of wealth” thing means to give handouts to people? Isn’t it simply giving tax rebates to the middle-class, and making up for the loss in government revenue by taxing the millionaires more? That’s not a handout, that’s a discount.

    I’m actually in favour of McCain’s tax plan, since the wealthy are the ones who can spend, and greatly increase the amount of money in the market and hence increasing liquidity. But the thing is, why do so many Republicans still cite Obama’s answer to Joe the Plumber out of context?

    Julian (47c6cc)

  48. I respectfully disagree with the analogy you provided your daughter. The Constitution and laws, in general, are complex and require interpretation. To suggest to your daughter that some judges make decisions solely based on what they think is fair instead of based on an interpretation of the legal aspects of the situation is just framing the argument so that you’re automatically correct. No matter how a judge rules, there’s always someone with a political leaning, on the left and the right, who thinks the judge is politically motivated against their point-of-view. (I realize that in the real world that is sometimes the case.) However, I think an analogy that comes closer to many legal situations, especially when it comes to the Supreme Court, would be, “The rule is that short kids don’t get to go on the ride but nobody has defined short in terms of inches.”

    Mitchell Bernard (8d883c)

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