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:
Dear Mira and Miles,
Your father and I have raised you with certain values. You must always wear clean underwear, brush your teeth, say your prayers and finish your homework before you can watch TV. We hope we have equally instilled in you the responsibility to vote. And not just in the popular presidential elections. Every time you are asked to choose who will represent you in government, you have a civic duty to respond to that call. I’d argue that the small races, where only a few hundred people show up, are actually more important to your everyday life than who sits in an Oval Office hundreds of miles away. The city councilman exerts the influence to determine what roads in your neighborhood will be fixed; which schools will get extra funding; which police departments will get the extra beat cops. And he’s much more accessible.
If that’s not enough to convince you, consider this: Think about the Americans who have given their lives so you can get an “I Voted!” sticker. Think about people in new democracies who stand in line for hours to get to the ballot box. Think about the people in the world who have no vote, and consider what that means for their lives. Think about how proud that sticker would make them.
And remember that I will be calling you on the first Tuesday in November. And you’d better not be home.
Cynthia Ramnarace lives in Rockaway Beach, New York, with her husband Sid and her children, Mira, 8, and Miles, 5. She is an independent journalist specializing in health, women’s issues and caregiving. Her work has appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine; AARP Bulletin and American Baby, and online at iVillage.com, Reuters Personal Finance and TheBump.com, among many others.
Michele C. Hollow
I do talk to you about why we need to vote. Plain and simple, you lose your right to complain if you don’t vote. I took you to the polls on Election Day four years ago, and you come with me for the small elections too – school board and local government. Four years ago you noticed the excitement in the room. I live in a blue community. I know everyone in that room voted for Barack Obama four years ago. One voter even wore a “Support Barack” T-shirt hidden under her jacket.
You had to watch the debates for school. You normally go to bed at 8:30, so staying up is next to impossible for you. You watched the first two debates, and were confused at the President’s performance. You told me you thought Romney looked more presidential, which made me cringe. You got sleepy after 30 minutes, so we put you to bed.
You also thought the vice presidential debates was more interesting, and your take was that Joe Biden did a better job. I did explain that Ryan was not telling the truth and was being vague. I guess as parents, some of us influence our children’s thoughts.
Michele C. Hollow lives in Northern New Jersey with her husband, Steven, and their son, Jordon, 11. All are left-leaning. Steven works as a performer – a professional storyteller and puppeteer. Michele writes the blog, Pet News and Views http://www.petnewsandviews.com
firstname.lastname@example.org, and contributes travel stories to the New York Daily News and other publications.
Dear Malka, Yitzchock, Mordechai and Yisroel,
I vote because as an American citizen that is the way I can express my opinion in choosing the government officials who I feel are most qualified to serve. I will be voting this November 6 because that is the designated day to choose the President who best represents the future of the United States both domestically and in our foreign policy. I think through the debates, the candidates have expressed their positions on issues concerning the U.S.A. over the next four years, and also clarified their characters.
Yehuda Grabie, who lives with his wife in Forest Hills, New York, has four children: Malka Esther, 27, a mother of three; Yitzchok Zvi, 26, comptroller of a cigar accesory company; Mordechai Yosef, 24, a pre-med student conducting stem cell research at Mount Sinai hospital in Manhattan; and Yisroel Yaakov, 20, a pre-med student at Queens College. His wife teaches at Bais Yaakov Academy in Kew Gardens and at Mercy College in Brooklyn. Yehuda is sales manager at M. Grabie Woolen Co. Inc., in New York City.
Dear Iris and Sam,
Voting is a privilege: serfs and slaves and people in the Middle Ages did not have an opportunity to vote; and today not everyone in our country or, in particular, other countries has that opportunity. Voting is a credential: would you accept the opinions on government, healthcare, education and gun control of a person who did not choose to vote? Voting is a force: not only the act of voting but planning to vote, knowing that voting has some importance, discussing our vote with others.
Bob Kirsch, who lives with his wife Mary in Ossining, New York, is father of Iris, a high school English teacher in Baltimore who also owns a cooperative coffee shop; and Sam, a businessman in Astoria, New York. Bob is a medical writer.