It’s easy to see the benefits of “Take Your Child to Work Day.” Bringing a child into the workplace provides a glimpse into the world of adulthood and it can help create a concrete vision for the future. Along that same line, let’s make November 8th “Take Your Child to Vote Day.”
So many of us are estranged from the democratic process. We’re busy. We don’t know if we’re registered, or where. We don’t feel like our tiny vote will make any real impact in the day-to-day. We believe that all the politicians are saying all the same things. We haven’t always seen words lead to action anyway. Or the result was so far away from the promise of the plan. The words didn’t work. And all of that might be true. But vote anyway. And take your kid.
Bringing kids into the polling place teaches them that opinions do matter, and that they should form their own. Voting shows children that thoughts and ideas are taken seriously and that real people get to decide together which ones to use. It’s confirmation of both community and procedure. Tell them that everyone gets one vote, no matter who they are. No one gets more. Not teachers, not mommies, not doctors. It’s one each.
(Yeah, yeah. Electoral college. Don’t go there. One step at a time.)
I’m not asking you to hold your nose and vote. You can skip an office if you don’t like the candidates, or if you don’t know them. Or choose a party and vote the party line. Maybe you’ll just vote for school board, or president, or the referendums. You don’t have to explain any of this. Just bring your kid into the polling place and watch them watch the process.
Make it a memory. Tell them that voting is special, and that you like doing it. Even if you don’t. Tell them that it matters. Even if you don’t believe it.
As insane as American politics can be, or is now, or has been in the past, our children deserve an opportunity to see us at our best, even when we aren’t. The aspiration towards a government by the people is real – but it has to be participatory. No one can improve a system they don’t care about. Instill interest from a young age. Make caring an option. This Tuesday, take your kid to vote.
And then get ice cream.
Beautiful VOTE cover photo of Shauna Stovell provided by Gabby Creery.