Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Future Campaign Strategist?

Faith's creativity is amazing. While there is no mistaking that she lives in a household that leans to the right of center, Jenny and I have never really talked much politics with her. I certainly want her to grow up forming her own opinions and have no designs on indoctrinating her. Nonetheless she is very curious about things. She's obviously learned a little about the election process in the classroom and picked up on our preferences (from initially very minimal cues).

One day, she told me that if Obama were her teacher, he would be mean to her and the whole class. Shocked by her bold use of partisan spin, I told her that it just wasn't true. I said that he would probably be a nice teacher, but would do some things that you might not like very much.

Then last Saturday, while we were at Pizza Hut enjoying the meal that she earned for reading 100 minutes at home in the month of October, television coverage of 11th-hour campaigning droned in the background. Faith recognized the faces on the tube and pressed for specifics of what Obama would do if he were her teacher. Where to start? I explained that he might ask for a show of hands of all kids who brought their lunch money. He would ask for the same for those who didn't. Then he would take the lunch money from one group and give it to the other. Hold your fire Obama supporters! I know this is an oversimplification and possible exaggeration, but how do you explain opinions on tax policy to a first grader, even a smart one? Besides, the kids don't bring lunch money anymore; they have accounts (that Obama would siphon.) I tried to explain how we believe strongly in sharing and helping people through charity, but don't believe such is the role of our government. With part of her allowance, Faith helps us support a Kenyan girl who shares her exact birthday. Needless to say, I didn't even want to start on experience, integrity, or the host of other issues to consider when voting for President.

Faith shares our anxiety, perhaps to a greater degree at moments. Ever thoughtful and creative, her outlet was to write a book. I think most would find this a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a 6 year old, regardless of personal views. The use of punctuation, mood, and the way the plot builds shows her remarkable grasp of literary devices. Neither Jenny nor I are political activists, but Faith exhibits an aptitude for rallying the troops. Click the picture to view her book. (She wrote double sided and some images bled through.)

My own thoughts as I ponder the years ahead... Obama is a master of nuanced language and a paragon of the cult of personality. Disregard everything Rush Limbaugh or Chris Matthews says about him. His actions prior to campaigning and his remarkably brief voting record define the leftmost precipice of American politics, belying his meticulously constructed image of a unifying centrist. He is a product of the Chicago machine, arguably the most corrupt political organization in the United States. Though every candidate in a two-party system campaigns to the center to court the swing vote, none has bridged such a great a chasm to complete the illusion. Can we trust this man with the keys to the world's future? I hope I am dead wrong about him.

On the lighter side, you gotta love the ears. If she turns out too introspective to be a campaign strategist, Faith has a future as a political cartoonist.


leonard said...

You go girl!! You make your nana and papa proud.

Bill Keller said...

Hi Scott, nice blog. Thanks for making me aware of it, and apologies that I find myself with a few minutes to touch on this interesting topic.

I can't wait until my daughter, Audrey (2yrs old) starts this discovery. The annoying thing to me is that the campaigns feel they have to explain things as if they are talking to 1st graders...over simplifications and un-nuanced slogans on both/all sides.

The hardest part for our daughter will be the veil of ignorance concept...where general tax policies (e.g. progressive tax structure) are/should be designed before you know what your 'lot in life' will be. I enjoy the debate on what taxes should cover. I suppose the shame is that there is so much contention around where money is allocated since most people agree on concepts like economies of scale and the 'greater good' (e.g. church collections). The difference, of course, being a chosen homogeneous scope vs an 'accepted' heterogeneous scope.

All in all, I suppose what we have is still pretty good...much of it covering fairly universal desires...public safety, education, national defense, infrastructure, rule of law, privacy, etc.

Interestingly, I think our political and social climate is the same as some basic human nature reflecting our risk/reward and fear noticed in children. For example, my daughter is all about doing things 'myself' on the playground, shunning my help/involvement. This goes for the slide, swings, and other activities where she believes she is self-sufficient and proficient enough to perform the activities. But when something unexpected happens (e.g. scraped knee, other kid on the swings, etc) she seeks her mother or me to fix the problem (kick the kid off the swing) or alleviate the immediate pain. Likewise, most people want a 'free market economy' when our national economy is doing well and want some sort of intervention (socialistic) or protectionist approach when things are not doing so well.

All I know is that Audrey has a mind of her own and hopefully will end up teaching me more than I teach her over time. Well, that, and at her next birthday party I'll end up buying enough cake so all guests get some even if they didn't invite Audrey to their child's party or bring a present for Audrey...talk about unfair 'redistribution' of my wealth!

Scott said...

Whoa. Now THAT is a comment.

LuLu said...

I agree with Leonard - You go girl! Our girl in a thinker and a writer, like her Dad!

Anne said...

Even though I disagree with "Faith's" politics, I love how smart she is! Great writing! We're very proud of you for thinking about such an important event!