Here is the obligatory election day post. I grew up around politics. My father's highest and best compliment has always been, "Susie, you are a great American." Mom worked in D.C. right out of college and may or may not have been hit on in an elevator by a Kennedy. When I was three I asked my parents what happens when a democrat marries a republican. They laughed and told their friends, but I don't think I ever received an adequate response. As an adult, I think what happens is that one of them converts, just like if they were different religions. It would be cool if there was a big ceremony where one of them wore all blue or red (depending on the conversion, of course) and got dunked in chardonnay or BBQ sauce or something. But, alas the conversion is only apparent in the privacy of the voting booth.
I know that political differences can be a big problem for families. But, it has never proved a problem for my immediate family, and I don't think it's because we agree on every issue, because we don't. I think it's because it's the political positioning and dynamics in politics itself that interests us. Not that we don't have our issues about which we feel passionately, because we do. I just think that interest in the political process supersedes the individual issues.
This spring we went up to Washington, D.C. during spring break. Sister lives and works in D.C. and Dad happened to be there for work while we were visiting. Sister hooked us up with some fun tours of the White House and we went bowling in the OEOB. Dad gave the children and me an awesome tour of the Capitol. Dad knows how to hit the highlights for kids: location of the 1983 bomb explosion, crazy-looking leper guy from Hawaii in Statuary Hall (see Father Damien below), and the blood stained steps where William Taulbee was shot by Charles Kincaid.
When I asked the kids what they enjoyed most about our trip to D.C., the Baby volunteered, "riding the escalator with Granddad." That's when I realized that the interest in politics may skip a generation. The Girl's class, as I mentioned, has been studying the democratic process and politics. Dad happened to be visiting us and the Girl asked if he could come and talk to her class about the election. Woo Boy! Because Dad has some credentials that technically make him an expert on American politics, the school seemed to think it would be okay to unleash him on the Girl's third grade class.
You would be surprised (or maybe not) about the things that the kids wanted to know. For example, Dad spent a lot of time fielding questions about how Barack and Michelle Obama met, where they were working, what they were wearing when they met. It was like a bunch of teenage girls interrogating one of their own about her first date. At least once during this line of questioning, Dad punted to me, asking, "Suse, when did Obama graduate from Harvard?" All I can say is thank goodness for Google on my iPhone.
Midway through his "lecture" Dad made the mistake of saying that Romney would probably win our home state of Georgia. For the entire rest of Dad's talk, all the kids wanted was to name a state and have Dad predict who would win it in the election. Basically, they would have preferred it if he had been a fortune teller. I was just waiting for one of them to ask Dad who would win the Florida-Georgia game and then make a quick call to his bookie.
The Boy and the Girl don't have school on election day, so I'm going to take them with me when I vote. I always loved going with my parents to vote and not just because of the PTA bake sale that was held at the polling place. There was something about going into the booth, drawing the curtain and pushing the levers that made me feel so important. Even if my kids don't have the interest in politics that my parents had and passed to Sister and me (well, mostly Sister), I hope that they will realize the importance of voting. I hope that they feel important and like their opinion matters when they help me cast my vote tomorrow. I know that after we vote, I'll give them both hugs and tell them in my best Dad voice, "You are both great Americans." Happy election day!