Dear Kids: Why I Vote

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Over the last few weeks I’ve asked parents around the country a few questions about the upcoming Presidential election. Why do you vote? Why will you be voting on Nov. 6? Why does voting matter? What do you think about the campaign and the candidates? I invited parents to answer those questions in the form of letters to their kids.

Here’s what 10 parents – addressing kids little and big with views patriotic, poignant and political – had to say:

Kenneth Miller

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Dear Kids,

You’ve come along while I’ve voted in the past few elections, but I don’t think I’ve ever explained why I eagerly cast a ballot whenever I have a chance. There are lots of reasons, but here are the two biggies.

Reason 1: I vote because my great-grandparents couldn’t. Back in Russia, our ancestors had no say in how their country was run. If government policies led to unwise military adventures, discrimination against minorities (for example, Jewish people like us), or widespread poverty and famine, the only thing ordinary folks could do about it — short of starting a revolution — was to move somewhere else. My grandparents’ parents came to America with their children, leaving everything they knew behind, because it was a place where people could control their own destiny. The ability to vote was a major part of that. It’s a gift they passed down to me, and I’ll always cherish it.

Reason 2: I vote because I want the world to be a better place for you kids. The people we elect today will make decisions – about the environment, about the economy, about how we relate to other nations – whose consequences will be felt for years to come. When I look at the way pollution is affecting our climate, or at the budget cuts that are hurting our schools, or at the millions of families who’ve suffered through hard times in the past few years, or at the wars that have cost so many lives since you two were babies, I realize how much of a difference voting makes. We can do something about all these problems, but only if we use the power that we’re lucky enough to have as citizens of a free country.

I’ll take you with me when I vote on November 6, and I hope you’ll take your own kids when you grow up.

Love,

Dad

Kenneth Miller lives in Los Angeles with his wife, novelist Julie Ries, and their two children (ages 13 and 9). He is an award-winning journalist who contributes to Reader’s Digest, Discover, Ladies’ Home Journal, among many other national magazines.

Dana Kahn Cooper

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Dear Sam,

I am so proud that you really “get” the Democratic process. Yes, it’s hard to believe that when asking other kids in school who is running for Vice President, you get blank stares – or maybe worse, they say McCain, Palin or Clinton. And the conversation you had with your barber was maybe even more enlightening. You were so curious about his enthusiasm for this year’s election, you asked him if he had seen the debates and who he would be voting for. His reply that he doesn’t really watch that stuff or understand politics, so he is voting for Obama, because he thinks it would be really cool to high-five him,” was maybe even more shocking to you than your classmates’ responses. Too bad you’re only sixteen. You’re obviously better prepared to vote than many others.

Dana Kahn Cooper lives in Monmouth County, New Jersey with her husband David and two sons, Joshua and Sam. Joshua, 20, is a journalism student at West Virginia University; and Sam, 16, is a high school junior and aspiring R&B singer. Dana is a communications specialist and David is an audiologist.

Zelda Baum

Dear Link, Craig and Duffy,

I vote for many reasons. It is a privilege to be able to select the leader of the free world. It’s also my duty as an American. I’m voting for Obama because I believe he has a better view of what is needed in the future for me and my family. Romney is a man who professes to be a self-made man but he isn’t. He comes from big money and he made much more. That is not a sin, but his view of the world is skewed. As a person on Social Security, I don’t want vouchers for Medicare, and I don’t want it for my children. We worked and paid for Medicare and Social Security, and to deny this to elders is unconscionable. I think Obama is more in tune with the middle class, and he is brilliant.

Zelda Baum, who lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, was married to Ward Baum for 58 years – he was the love of her life – until his death in 2004. She is the mother of three children, Link, Craig and Margaret (Duffy). She has managed commercial real estate and served as National Executive Director of The National Foundation for Ileitis and Colitis, among other national health associations.

P.S. – Please see part 2 tomorrow.

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