Politics 101 or for Grade 8

It’s funny, the power and sway politics have over our lives. It disillusions some, provokes others, causes outbreaks of rage and greed, and amps up the high blood pressure and loss of the ability to discuss and agree to disagree or even to agree to independently research issues and candidates. I taught Civics in the year that Clinton was running against Dole. I was accused by parents of being too liberal, too conservative, and just right. My principal called me in to discuss the letters she was getting. I was just doing my job. Teaching children how to think, define and refine what they know was one of my most important goals for myself during my teaching career.

I don’t like preachers of novelty. I dislike attacks on character or opponents when the questions are answered not by a candidates stance but by attacks on someone else’s stance. I went to a Bernie Debate watch last night. It was a diverse group of people. There was cake, the ability to order food, drinks, and door prizes. The coordinator of the Northern VA area turned up to make a 2 minute speech before the debate. I gave four of my prints as door prizes. I also talked about the issues that I am most concerned about. People actually applauded me during my five minutes of fame.

There are some things that I need to review with myself, and unfortunately, I’m going to do it here. Firstly, it’s important to understand that a debate is set up to rile people up, to change opinions, to cast aspersions, to cause emotional overloads. So, please don’t suddenly start cussing out a candidate you disagree with. You have to understand that profanity is not appropriate no matter what you feel in a moment’s anger. Also, little pitchers who come with their parents, who are trying to teach them the importance of voting, don’t need the exposure to profanity. Yes, some have heard bad words before, but that is no excuse when you are a role model for these young people. I watched a third of our group leave when a woman lost control of her emotions. Manners are still important.

Secondly, listening is hard to do if everyone is talking all at once. Shh, wait for the commercial or pass notes. This is one place where passing notes will not hurt you.

Thirdly, separate the feelings you have between contestants. One may be more likable. Another may be more intense and might do a better job. Which is more important? For me, it’s the issues and the outcomes. I look for issue statements, then I check out the background of those issues. I look for people who have ideas on how to pay for new services. I look for compassion with a sense of outcome results. I look for polish. I look for the ability to win hearts and minds. I look to see if there is a basic understanding of economics, science, history and literature. I read. I ask question. I research. I may like one opponent over another because of personality, but I have to stop and question whether or not that’s the issue. Issues and solutions are my primary interests.

Fourthly, democrats can’t count to three. LOL not one of the candidates on the stage had three issues to immediately implement. O’Malley was at least honest in setting three categories. Bernie had five. Hillary had more than a dozen. My fingers couldn’t keep up with her. We want things fixed. We want things fixed right now this minute, all of them. Life doesn’t work that way. The presidents who did face difficult times set priorities and committees to see what they could actually do. It makes life interesting.

Fifthly, one basic point of debating. Don’t use your opponents name, use instead “My opponent.” Why? Because every time you use their name, you reinforce them in the audience’s mind.

Sixthly, when the election is over, we are all going to have to find a way to get involved and stay involved in our government so that our voices are not silent and ignored. It doesn’t matter after the election whether you lost or won. What does matter is being a responsible citizen who stays involved so that the voices heard in congress and the White House are those of the people. Hubert Humphrey came to my middle school when he lost to Nixon. He told our school that the President of the US is our president whether we voted for him or her or not. He said to stay involved, don’t give up and don’t fall into name calling and hatred. Find a way to respect the office and those serving in it. Make sure they hear from you every time there is an issue. We have a system of checks and balances. Use it. I was honored a decade later to be called to duty in the Minnesota National Guard to be part of the security at Humphrey’s funeral.

Seventhly, don’t underestimate the American population. There are some things we all have in common. There are also somethings that need to be addressed to make our belief in our country one of pride and moving forward, not one of racism and hatred. Forward, a simple word that holds so much power.

You can see that the teacher gene is alive and kicking in my head. I went to the debates. I watched and listened. I saw an old guard candidate, a future JFK or RFK candidate when his name becomes more prominent, and I saw a passionate man who believes we all need to be a little more responsible about who we are and how we will be governed. I know who I liked. I know who I disliked. I also know that each and every one of us needs to be able to discuss the issues with people who are not judgmental. Socrates taught by teaching to listen and to think. I believe we are able to do that.

I have always been a Social Democrat. I grew up in the state of Minnesota and it had a sense of love thy neighbor and do something good for them even if it’s just shoveling a neighbor’s sidewalk. I was a member of the Democratic Farm and Labor party. Minnesota has changed a lot. I’ve grown.

Do vote, please. I won’t tell you how or who. In the state of Virginia, you must register to vote by Feb 1st if you want to vote in the primaries both Democratic and Republican. Make sure your voice is heard. The vote is on March 1st this year. I’ll stop preaching now.

I’ll just go wander off to my book I’m writing. Something happened in the last chapter that has caused me to have more to write about. Mother Nature has a deep belly laugh. Until next time, be safe, happy and content.

Ann

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