Monday, November 03, 2008

electing to...check out the fence

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?


jgfellow said...

So far, I've ruled out John Ashcroft, Jason Varitek and Nicholas Sarkozy. Other than that, I'm taking suggestions.


Auntie A said...

Well, good luck to you both. Your election campaign has certainly been more exciting than ours was. I rather enjoyed the relative lack of fuss ours produced though.

Rachel L. said...

Okay, I'll leave the top race out of it (since we know which way this state will go anyway) and ask, where does he stand on the ballot questions?

jgfellow said...

No on #1. I sympathize with the notion that governments waste money – they do. That said, wholesale elimination of the state income tax, or even a healthy chunk of it, is just lazy. If you want to identify the waste, do the work.

Yes on #2. Why marijuana should be more criminal than, say, alcohol or tobacco is beyond me. I don't condone marijuana use! But honestly, I don't really condone watching sit-coms either. I'm not sure which does more harm to Americans.

No on #3. Why is it okay to eat a chicken but not okay to let dogs race? PETA is about the only group that has an intellectually honest position on this one. Loopy, but intellectually honest.

I have no love for greyhound racing, and I'm sure that it is as gruesome and disgusting as advertised, but I'm not interested in increasing regulation. Until we're ready to start doing something about all of this chicken consumption, I don't have the appetite to come down on the dog racers. So to speak.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your attention to my comment. It is good to hear of other wise and concerned undecideds, though my positions differ from those of your Man.

I have voted outside of the two main parties before, but I don't think that is what will be meaningful to me this time.

I am realizing that I feel the need to block danger from both sides! I don't see many plusses, rather mostly minuses and lack-of-minuses. Is it worth risking one minus on the off chance that a lack of a different minus might become a plus?

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, I see that my positions on the three ballot questions match up very well with those of your Man!

Miryam (mama o' the matrices) said...

jg, if chickens (and cows, for that matter) weren't routinely treated really, really badly, well. You and I would be having words over dinner tonight.

But they are, so now you've got me thinking. Still, I think the way that the greyhounds are treated is cruel. Why does one cruelty permit another?

But I'm with you on the income tax question.

JGFellow said...

Anonymous, you have to vote your conscience. Good luck! I suspect that you and I perceive the same risks associated with "this one."

On the subject of "that one," I just have too much concern about a president coming in with so little experience. GWHB proved that expereince isn't everything, and Obama has plenty of other positive attributes. But I think that an inexperienced presidency risks being 4 years of missed opportunities. I cannot consider myself to be part of the movement encouraging future dynamic inexperienced candidates in the future.

jgfellow said...

M.O.M. One cruelty does not permit another. I'm not pro-cruelty, I'm anti-regulation. At least, excessive regulation, as perceived by the eye of the beholder.

Given our track record of being crueler to some animals than others, I can't come up with a good reason to let the government extend its reach on this issue...


Miryam (mama o' the matrices) said...


I agree, and this is exactly what perches thoughtful people on top of fences. Pointy fences, even.

I know a guy who voted in the Republican primary this year, mostly so he could vote against Mitt Romney. Whatever the other minuses were, he thought that one was the most dangerous.

And that would be my reply to you: I think that single issue voting is dangerous for exactly the reason you describe. If you vote to avoid one minus, might the others not rise up and bite you on the ass? Probably, they will.

I'm sitting in the land of the intellectual elite, where Bush Jr was greeted as if he were a sign of the Apocalypse. Electing someone for their educational or intellectual pedigree is a variant on the theme of single-issue voting, I think.

Where issues fail me, I've learned that my instintive preference is for the person who knows they aren't always right. And someone who says things that I don't always want to hear. But primarily, someone whom I trust to make careful, thoughtful judgements.

But that's me. How about you?

Anonymous said...

Thank you both so much for taking seriously and helping and being so supportive of and giving immediate attention to an anxious anonymous person.

What I can and cannot consider myself to be. Exactly.

Allergy Mom said...

On a lighter note, as I was putting my child into time out, he said, "You're not listening! I'm going to write a note to Barack Obama and tell on you!"

I barely made it out of the room before busting a gut laughing.