Governor Romney and President Obama: Our Children Are Watching

      Almost eight months ago, my 10 year old daughter and I journeyed to New Hampshire the weekend before the Republican Primary.  My purpose at the time, aside from spending time with my daughter, was to immerse her in the political process.  To let her experience democracy in action, real retail, personalized politics.  I wanted her to see the politics is about the people and not just the personalities.  I wanted her to see civilty triumph.

We experienced just that.  In addition to meeting the good people of New Hampshire, we attended a Mitt Romney rally, sat in the front row of round table discussion featuring Rick Santorum, and were trampled by the media at a Jon Huntsman diner appearance.  We even happened by an Occupy New Hampshire commune and watched Ron Paul’s patriots parade on horseback through downtown Manchester.  It certainly was a learning experience.

As Mitt Romney prepares to accept his party’s nomination tonight, I think back to his rally at Pinkerton Academy in Derry.  At the time, I tweeted about the “inevitability” of his nomination so his ascension is not of surprise (I didn’t exactly go out on a limb with this tweet, of course).  I also think back to my wish for my daughter.  As this campaign moves forward, this is not just a wish for my daughter, it is also a wish for my students.

My wish for my daughter, all three of my daughters actually, and for my students, is for this campaign to be a true exercise in democracy, a true campaign for the people.  Is it too much to ask for this campaign to be about real issues?  Is it too much to ask for this campaign to be about the people?  Is it too much to ask for politics to be a noble profession and the discourse it produces be civil?

I fear I know the answer already and I fear for the future.  A future generation of America’s leaders is watching this exercise in democracy and is not seeing our nation’s leaders at their best.  The issues are too great and the dialogue too destructive.  Chasm replaces compromise.  Big money muddies the waters.  The Republicans are wrapping up their sideshow this evening and the Democrats will run out their dog and pony show next week.  Neither charade will do any good for our nation.

Maybe as the balloons deflate and the confetti is swept away, the dialogue will improve.  Maybe as the leaves fall, civility will triumph.  I hope so.  Our children are watching.


10 thoughts on “Governor Romney and President Obama: Our Children Are Watching

  1. Agreed, Jim. I, too, fear for the future when numbers trump people. When individuals let institutional devices control what we want to call democracy. I wish politicians across the board would embrace civility and just be genuine.

  2. Well said, Sarah. It’s rare to see the words “politician” and “genuine” in the same sentence.

  3. Even though both sides channel the words of our founding fathers, the spirit in which they use them is divisive. To mangle a political sound byte–I knew George Washington. You, sirs, are no George Washington.

  4. Pingback: Teens, tweets, and text(s) » Un-convention-al rhetoric

  5. I have four young voters in my family, two who will be voting in their first presidential election.

    The three girls will vote pro choice. My son, the oldest, is confused by the rhetoric, and has already become distrustful enough with the process that he’s planning to abstain. I’m doing everything in my [limited] power to change his mind – not about who he will vote for, but that he participate.

    I mention that my daughters will vote pro choice not because we’re a rabidly pro choice family, but to illustrate the emotional denominator to which their decision-making process has been reduced.

    They feel unable to get past the legislation of their bodies to even consider or discuss any of the infinately more important issues on the table.

    I’m sure you’ve seen the billboard out there with the message, “Obama supports gay marriage and abortion. Do you?”

    These are the common denominator, emotionally-charges issues that the candidates want to conquer and divide on. And I’m sorry to report, in my family, they’ve succeeded.

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