I'm getting civics lessons over here. And flag trivia.
As election day looms, the Eldest's class has swung into full gear - as has the rest of the school. The first graders are learning about the flag, it's history and significance, as well as some of the rules of flag use. (These do not, in case you were wondering, include matches. I asked.)
MumMumMumMumMum, can I help? I want to carry that in!
I look at the bouncing kid, and look at the enormous bowl of salad.
Sure, sweetie, but be careful. Take it right up to the table, and offer it to one of our guests.
The Eldest offers me a solemn look. Don't worry, Mum, he tells me. I'll carry it like the flag, and never let it touch the ground.
Oh. Um, thanks.
Tomorrow, the school will vote, echoing the adults. The kindergartners will count the votes, and the first grade will help (says the Eldest) tabulate them with graphs. The eighth graders will be at the real polling stations, and try to predict the outcome. And on, and on. It's a grand old flag, the Eldest sings to himself, and I have to smile. Tomorrow, his class will perform that at the school assembly, and the Eldest has been drilling us on the words. Just in case, I suppose.
Tomorrow also, our street will be packed with cars and people, jockeying for a decent parking spot near the polling station. The Man will come home early, and take the boys with him when he votes. And somewhere before, during and doubtless after, I'll talk to the Eldest about respecting people whose choices differ from our own. I'll remind him that John McCain served his country, and is worthy of our respect. But, I'm sure the Eldest will reply, John McCain is going to kill all the endangered animals! The Eldest will look at me, and at his father, with wide, horrified eyes. He will be certain of this coming slaughter, and he will know that his adults would not accept this.
And yet, his father will cast a vote as his conscience dictates.
Anon., you mention undecided voters and the derision that goes on around them. I live with one, and he's a thoughtful, worried man. Neither candidate quite suits him, and there isn't an issue that he is sufficiently passionate about, such that it could tip him off the fence. Believe me, I've checked.
I would have thought that he'd feel strongly enough about women's health (+ Obama) and reproductive rights (+Obama), redistributing the taxes to those with the cash to fork over (+Obama), the environment (if that means green tech to you, then somewhat + Obama - unless you ask the Eldest, who focuses on wildlife preserves and endangered species. In which case, +++Obama), revamping the health care system (depends on what that means to you), gay marriage and rights (+ Obama), thoughtful intelligence (+ Obama but take away a point for being a celeb candidate, then add one after remembering our most recent bout with a president's reflexive gut responses), etc.
Nope. A single issue won't do it, and the combined positions that the candidates hold won't tip the Man, either. It's not just a matter of Republican vs Democrat in our house, it's largely a matter of economics. (No, really). The Man believes in a free market, and I believe in an amoral one. I think healthcare is a right, and he thinks it's important. I believe that the average person doesn't know how to negotiate for their rights, nor are they aware of all of their options. He thinks that a sense of entitlement and awareness of resources isn't class-specific, and people who need help will find it. I think that industry runs amok in the US, and has too much influence in government. He thinks that a strong economy requires that influence, making the government's pro-industry decisions worthwhile. And on, and on. Our views on the world have much to do with how we read the candidates, and where we assign the points. I'm a flaming liberal wearing a t-shirt that says "if you aren't upset, you aren't paying attention." And he's....a libertarian, I think, wearing a nice red tie.
Inevitably, then, the choice that the Eldest - and I - find so clear is just not navigable for the Man. Which leaves one question: who will he write in?