Politics and Eight-Year-Olds

In general, I’m driven nuts by election time. So many media distortions that you can’t trust any of it, people getting crabby and slinging mud at people with opposing views…it’s just tiresome.

But one thing that has been fun this year is Theo’s interest in the election. His class is studying the election process and the different divisions of government and how they work, but he was interested in it long before that, so we’ve been answering his questions about politics for some months now.

One thing that’s really important to Chris and me is that Theo learns to examine information with a critical eye and come to his own conclusions about what he believes. Neither of us is interested in raising a parrot who simply repeats what we believe, so we’ve made it a point to discuss issues and candidates in as neutral a manner as possible. Both Chris and I have known for months who we were voting for, and Theo knows who each of us is voting for…but we’ve made the point over and over that it’s simply our decision based on our belief system and that, if he were old enough to vote, we hope he would carefully consider the issues and come to his own conclusions.

In the same vein, we’ve made it a point not to smear the opposing candidate. People have very strong feelings about the candidates this year, and Chris and I are no exception—we are not fans of the candidate we’re not voting for. (Yes, we do happen to be voting for the same person.) But we’ve made it a point to tell Theo that other people do believe in that candidate, and everyone has the right to make up his or her own mind. And that it’s not polite to say rude things about the other candidate—we’ve made it a point not to do so ourselves, even when we think the candidate we’re not voting for has made some very questionable decisions.

So it’s been very interesting to see where Theo goes with this, given that we’ve tried to make it sort of a blank canvas for him. Honestly, I had him pegged for a Republican bent. He very much likes money and is quite interested in being enormously wealthy. And he’s not inclined to give people a break on things. For example, Sam’s OT was sick last week with a bad head cold and had to cancel our appointment. Theo was quite irate (I have no idea why—this had no impact on him. But he doesn’t like changes of plans…) and demanded to know whether she was running a fever or vomiting. I said no—she just had a cold. He announced, “Well, then, she needs to be at work! The only reason to take a day off is if you’re vomiting or you have a fever!” (Note to self: Don’t ever work for Theo!)

So you can see why I would assume that social programs wouldn’t exactly be up Theo’s alley. 😉

At first, Theo viewed the vote as a popularity contest, but we told him that when you vote, you need to consider where your candidate stands on the issues. Theo being Theo, he wanted to know in great detail what the issues were.

Well. We’re not going to get into Benghazi and deleted emails and groping women with the eight-year-old, but we did explain the basics of immigration, taxes, National Debt, social programs, the environment, etc. with him. And actually, I found it a lot of fun to share the pros and cons of these issues with him. I think I’m actually pretty good at sharing information in a nonbiased way because of my job—I’ve had to edit polarizing material and write about controversial topics and people, and in all instances I’ve had to maintain neutral balance. So I’ve always kind of found that fun—examining topics from all sides and trying to understand the pros and cons of every angle. So things like immigration were actually fun to discuss with Theo, because there’s just so many facets to it. And of course, we brought it down to a level a third-grader can understand—Theo is very bright and inquisitive, but some of the subtle nuances are beyond him at this point, as is to be expected.

So anyway, when it all played out, I realized that Theo is decidedly a leftist. In fact, he’s a diehard Berner! He was pretty angry when Bernie Sanders got knocked out. He does have ways he crosses over to the right (just as I think most of us tend to cross over into the other side in some ways), but for the most part he’s quite on the left.

What I’ve gleaned from his political rants and musings are that:

  • The United States should have wide open borders.
  • Healthcare should be universally available.
  • The National Debt is of zero concern.
  • Chris and I are horrible people for not trading in our cars for environmentally friendly hybrids—despite the fact that doing so would put us in quite a bit of debt.
  • Everyone should help the poor and less fortunate.
  • Everyone should be given a house to live in.
  • But at the same time, he has a very convoluted economic plan where everyone would share their income, but the poor people would do all the work. He refuses to believe that this is not economically viable—or fair.

As you can see, he’s got defined ideas on all of this. (Well, except that last one, which just doesn’t even make any logical sense.) And so this morning, when he attempted to insult me, I was actually rather impressed by his application of knowledge.

“Mom,” he said. “I want a Tech Deck [a small toy]. How about I pay half and you pay half?”

“Nope. If you want it, you can use your money for it,” I said.

“Why?” he said. “Why won’t you pay half?”

“Because it’s your toy, so it’s up to you to pay for it,” I said.

He sighed in disgust and said, “You’re being a Republican.”

I have to admit, I laughed out loud. Theo, the diehard Democrat, meant it as an insult, but the truth is, Chris and I are both pretty much in the center politically, so even though we are both registered with a particular party, referring to us as either one really isn’t an insult—we definitely aren’t in either political extreme.

Anyway, the only fun thing about this whole bloody election season has been watching the interest of an eight-year-old boy. It’s fun to see it through new eyes…even when some of the ideas get a little out there! So many ideas brewing in that head of his….

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