My daughter saw the teachers starting to gather yesterday evening and begged to go over and stand with them. She had her jacket and shoes on and was out the door before I could even answer her. That is how I came to stand with all three kids, the older ones holding the ‘I Love Geneva Teachers’ sign and the youngest begging me to help her jump up and down as she cheered and made silly faces for the teachers.
Have we politicized our kids? Maybe. Hopefully we have taught them to think for themselves (I think this may have worked since Hannah recently told me that if a Republican were a better person, we should vote for them). Ask Evie who we are going to vote for and she screams, “OBAMA!!!!”. Eli recently impressed a high school kid because he knows who our vice president is. They ask a lot of questions and it keeps us thinking and checking and learning all the time. It helps me to always be clear on why it is I vote the way I do and support the causes I support.
If I could remember all the questions they have asked to challenge my political leanings I would write them all down and answer them. Here are the biggies:
They want to know why we support the teachers. Well, my first thought was, how do parents answer this question of their children if they do not support the teachers? For me it was easy. We support the teachers because they are professionals who work hard and deserve to be compensated fairly in a manner competitive with their peers in the local area. We support the teachers because we want our kids to have high quality teachers throughout their school years. We support the teachers because I have yet to hear anyone give a good reason not to. The district has not said that they are in such a tight financial position that they will have to lay off teachers or cut programs if the teachers do not accept the board’s offer. People point to other districts that took one year pay freezes a few years back. They did that because they had just asked for and received significant raises and their districts WERE going to have to cut positions if they did not take a freeze.
They want to know why we are Democrats. I was an independent voter when I was in college and was still figuring out where I stood on the issues, and the more I learned, the more I read, the more Jeremy and I talked together about politics, the more I saw that the Democratic party stands for and believes in the things that I hold to be important in life. Freedom, equality, human rights, being our brother’s keeper. But more than that, it was the people I knew who I respected greatly, the people who were hard working and honest people who inspired me to want to vote as a Democrat. I’m not saying that the people I know and love who are Republican voters are not worthy of respect, but I’ve never been able to understand that party’s reasoning. When I hear Democrats speaking up about why they support their party, they talk about all the things their party can do and will do for people. When I hear Republicans talk about why they support their party, I hear anger and distrust of the Democrats, but not anything inspiring to make one want to lean to the right. And I have seen how things go under both sides, when the country is doing great and when things tank, and quite honestly, I think that the Democrats and their interest in the day to day lives of everyday Americans have the right idea. I like that Obama does not believe that ‘corporations are people, my friends’. I admire his courage in standing up for the rights, basic human rights of gays and lesbians. I appreciate that Democrats understand that women are still not treated as fairly as they deserve to be treated and that they work to improve that. I am glad that they value education and respect teachers, knowing that there is always room for improvement but that it needs to be done in a cooperative way, not a bullying way. I am relieved that the Democratic party trusts science and scientific evidence, you don’t hear many of them (any?) claiming that global warming is not real. It is much easier to have faith in a party who believes in science because doing so makes no political gain for them whereas we know exactly what political gain there is to be had form a party that continually sides with big oil. Big money. Sure, Democrats make mistakes, and as Hannah pointed out, if the Republican on the ticket were the better person to vote for, we should. But the way the party’s are standing right now, I am proud to stand by the Democrats.
There is another thing that bothers me and no one has been able to answer this - it is about the anger on the right. Our car was egged last night. On Halloween our yard signs were ripped up and kicked over, our jack-o-lanterns were taken and smashed a block away. A week or so before that, our yard signs were mysteriously removed from our yard but found placed on our front steps. I am assuming this was done by kids. But clearly not by kids whose parents support the teachers or Obama or Martha Hanna or Dennis Anderson or Corrine Pierog. My kids are enthusiastic Obama supporters and know that we support the teachers, but they also know (and don’t give me the, ‘well, you’re just a good mom' lines) that we are respectful to all people, no matter who they support. So why is it ok for people on the right to say things like ‘let’s put the white back in the white house’ and even worse things that have been said? Why is that tolerated? Because I watch and read a LOT of things that support Obama and the worst that I have heard are jokes about Romney’s lies and flip-flopping. I know that both sides have not played ‘nicely’, it is politics after all. But I care about niceness and decency. That does not make me naive. It is something that matters, it is something that people around the world want to see in our country, NEED to see in our country that can often come across as rude and conceited. So how do I explain to my kids why people who disagree with us vandalize our property? After having this happen so many times, I think that they too have come to the realization that I have, it’s good to be on the good, the decent, the honest side of history.