Thursday, November 06, 2008

Kids, Elections and Progress

Both of my kids participated in elections at their schools in the week leading up to November 4th. I'm sensitive to any bias teachers put forth to students. If I were to ever find out that a teacher or school official exerted any sort of political influence on my children there would be hell to pay. We all know how academia stands on the political spectrum, and it's my job to teach my children to think for themselves. As I will demonstrate.

In both instances though, the teachers didn't offer any opinion, and the ballots cast were anonymous. You can guess who won in an overwhelming landslide at both schools. In Emmett's preschool, the results were posted on each classroom door. One classroom over from Emmett's reported that it was Obama, seven votes to one. In Emmett's however, McCain won eleven votes to three. 

Emmett has always said that he was going to vote for Barack Obama, but of course he has heard his parents talking about it. I kind of liked that he was thinking on his own instead of taking everything we said as the gospel. After picking him up and on the ride home, he told me that he voted for John McCain.

"Why, Emmett? I thought you were voting for Obama."

"Leighton talked me into it."

"How did he do that?"

"He said we were best buddies and that I had to vote for John McCain."

Leighton's mother was in the armed forces and went to Iraq for Desert Storm

This upset me just a little. "Don't get me wrong, Emmett, I love that you voted for McCain, but you shouldn't vote for someone because it makes someone else happy. You have to make up your own mind and do what you think is right."

He chewed on these words, then happily reported, "But I wanted to vote for John McCain."

That night Emmett wrote Senator McCain a letter. He drew a picture and had his brother inscribe, "Dear John McCain, I'm sorry you lost the election. Will you draw me a picture back?"

Jackson wrote two letters, one to each of the candidates. To Obama he told him what a lopsided victory he won at his school, and that he was happy that he (Obama) had won the election. And "could you send me a signed picture of yourself?"

To John McCain he sent a similar letter (sans election results), expressing regret that he lost the election (the irony was not lost on me), and that all his ideas were right and Obama's were wrong.

Ok, so you think I've ruined my child. But rest assured that what I am telling my kids is that Obama is now our president, and as such our respect is his to uphold. That is a far cry from what I have observed in the reverse, and I plan to be an example of how to support a president whose ideas and ideals I oppose. There may come a time where that will be stretched to the snapping point, but I hope to remain constructive and open.

As for all the simple-minded rednecks that can't handle a black president (am I allowed to notice that?) drive yourself over the next available cliff. The Klan party is over, has been over. I'm surprised that there is still a forum for this kind of thinking, if this can even be termed thinking. This aspect of the election makes me happy and proud that race is no longer a majority issue among free-thinking people. Maybe during upcoming elections the opposition won't accuse the other side of racism. But as Steve Martin would say, "Naaahhhhh!" As long as it works to silence critics it will be used, but at least now there is precedence and history to counter with, dampening its effect.

To wrap up, my grandmother voted for Obama. She lives in Ohio. She's always been a Democrat, and is bitterly opposed to the war, which tipped her hand towards Obama. But grandma is just short of a klan type. She has never had a nice thing to say about blacks, and that's putting it kindly. In her own words, she justified her vote for a (insert n-word) because Joe Biden is a good man, and, well, let's just say she doesn't have high hopes for Obama's health. 

We have a long way to go in this world. But progress has been made. My grandma voted for a black man. Read that again slowly: my grandma voted for a black man.  Do not underestimate the size of that mountain.


Tee said...

This was touching, Scott. You're a great example for your boys and I admire that you're able to so calmly and maturely accept a President you didn't vote for.

I can't say I'd have done the same. If Obama had lost I was thinking about packing up my hammock and a bottle of Tequila to head south. LOL.

Anyway - you're awesome :)

Alan said...

Good point, Tee. If Obama had lost, it would take me some time to process. And good point Scott. Would I have cried foul and racism as a reason for Obama's defeat? Although I have said earlier, I couldn't imagine why Obama wouldn't win other than the color of his skin. So I do agree with you, most whites who voted for him didn't care of his color at all. But still, as Dixiebelle's comments have attested to, a lot of whites did not vote for him because of the color of his skin.

So...I left quite the diatribe in your last post before I read this one, and ... so, yeah.

As for ruining your kids ... lol. They're your kids. They love you. You're their hero, Scott. Thank God you're also a good man. An honest man. I don't care how Republican conservative capitalist they turn out to be, as long as they turn out as solid and conscientious as your are. They love you and they want your approval. Every child ultimately does. Thank God they're in good hands--as opposed to the kids under the thumbs of the bastards described in Dixiebelle's comments--but let me not go off on that again. (It just pisses me off so much I could cry.)

There will be a time when your boys will start to flex their wings on their own, and start to find ways to be separate entities from Dad. They might become strange creatures who you don't recognize. But they will come back around to a man like you, Scott. You just continue to stay true to yourself and you'll enjoy your children for the rest of your life.

And you deserve to.

Jada's Gigi said...

Good for you with your kids. Jada, who is bi-racial I might note, was a strong McCain supporter until she spent last weekend with her "other" family and came home declaring that she had changed her mind because her entire family was voting Obama...well needless to say I'm wondering what that makes me. :) As much as there were people who did not vote Obama due to the color of his skin..and I hesitate to think there were that many..I personally think white voters have come far in this...I do feel there were multitudes who DID vote for him because of the color of his skin and this to my mind is as racist as anything.
anyway...I will reserve judgement and wait to see what he does. I hear the pundits and even Pelosi saying how he will govern from the center...:) that's funny since I don't think she can actually see the center...but neither do I think Obama can. He may however be overwhelmed by the facts of the world we live in and the responsibility he has when he becomes president and gets to see all the info so that he has no choice but be more centrist if indeed he loves our country and seeks to preserve her. and I have no doubt of his love for our I'll take a wait and see attitude. I have no doubt that my God is still in control and can manage Obama just fine.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Great post, Scott.

Listen, there are many, many people scaling the same mountain that your grandmother climbed.

Honestly, I think it comes at a good time!

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...


I'm just imagining your grandma sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch of a pioneer log cabin:

'Some hoo-haa'll kill that negro boy soon enough. Biden'll be there to pick up the pieces. Otherwise, my vote's done wasted! Sure as hell hope them klan boys don't find out..'

Go Obama! (sorry)

Scott said...

Tee - I dropped by your place. Thanks for the kind words.

Alan - America would have been LA post-Rodney King if Obama hadn't won the election. That's pretty sad. With a win under their belts, perhaps Dems can take future losses with some dignity.

Cheryl - I don't think Pelosi can see the center either. It pains me to see her gloat.

KLaw - Like I said before, for me it's a wait-and-see. But I'm glad my granny's convictions were tested and gave under the weight of issues she felt more important.

Toast - Not quite so backwoods-southern as that, but racist talk of any kind comes off as insipid to say the least.

Alan said...

Well Scott, you must admit--given all the pre-election information that Obama was doing so well in the polls and given that there was so much galvanization in inner cities and the disenfranchised to turn out on Nov. 4, it would have been EXTREMELY strange if Obama had not won. Even you knew he was going to win. (Of course, my hindsight is better than my foresight. I wanted it, but I wanted it too much and didn't dare believe it could happen.)

It would have been LA post-Rodney King because something would have been fishy, and black people are kind of tired of watching the forty acres and a mule get snatched away. But please do give "us" a little credit. We didn't race to the polls to vote for Sharpton, nor Jesse Jackson, nor Alan Keyes. And if the information fed to us didn't make us think that Obama was on his way to winning, I think we would have accepted his defeat the way we've accepted all the other thousands of ways that we've been pushed to the side and ignored.

Which brings me to Jada's Gigi postulation that it's racist to vote for Obama for the color of his skin. In essence, that's the argument used to say that affirmative action is reverse racism and is wrong.

So to be honest, I can understand the objection. When favor is given to anyone, regardless the reason, then the unfavored is going to feel threatened and a sense of loss. That's human nature. And maybe no matter how you balance the scales, someone is going to feel slighted. (Yeah, welcome to the past 200 years of black experience.)

So to me, black people voting for a black man wasn't about racism, it was about empowerment. And note, as I pointed out other black candidacies, Obama wasn't just any black man. We blacks haven't just "yessuh'd" and "dat's right'd" our way to the polls every time a black person said "I'ms gonna be President!" This black man had what it took. This black man won the confidence of white people as well. He would not have won if every single black person in America voted for him (which didn't happen by the way) but a majority of white people did not.

So I understand the sense of threat whites might feel as blacks rise out of second-class citizen status, but please give us some credit. We're not apes waiting for the opportunity to riot, regardless of what you're heard.

Scott said...

Alan - I don't know why you are regressing me to some kind of cave man here. You are projecting onto me things that I have not said. It wouldn't have just been blacks calling foul on the election. You're the only black commenter on my blog as far as I know, but you are far from Obama's biggest supporter here. If Obama would have lost the election, it would have been all Democrats. If you see that statement as Democrats = Blacks, then please take a step back. Cheryl's comment was absolutely true. If you honestly think that nobody voted for Obama because of the color of his skin, or voted against him for the same, then it just isn't realistic. You yourself told me early on that his skin color meant everything to you, so don't tell me it didn't factor in. I don't think you would vote solely on that basis, but to some that is the only criteria that applies.

Scott said...

And further, to say that I feel threatened, or to imply that I am threatened, by the color of his skin is an injustice to me. My reasons against voting for Obama had everything to do with policy and his past associations, for which I have been vociferously rebutted.

Alan said...

Wait now, "LA post Rodney King" was about black people being angered about abuse against a black person. It wasn't too much of a leap for me to think that's what you meant. I'm glad you didn't, but that's really how I read it. Forgive me.

And I don't deny that A LOT of people, including me, voted for him because he's black. I didn't deny that at all. What I did was question if that's racism. Was I racist in voting for a black man, as a black man? I say not.

Give my response another read, Scott. I know Obama has white supporters. I said it. It's the only way he won the election.

Alan said...

Scott, I'm glad you don't feel threatened. But I think some do. Surely all the people that Dixiebelle reports about--they do. Sorry if I read like I'm lumping all white people together. I might tend to do that. Forgive me for that too.

Scott said...

So I understand the sense of threat whites might feel as blacks rise out of second-class citizen status, but please give us some credit. We're not apes waiting for the opportunity to riot, regardless of what you're heard.

That's the part I don't like in your comment to me. As if I were part of some conspiracy to keep the black man down. Frankly this is just the kind of thing that angers me about being opposed to anyone based on idealogical grounds, it always devolves into this.

I will say that I understand how you mistook my meaning as pertains to the King riots. I'm referring to its broader meaning as a revolt against racism. The election was close because just under half of this country doesn't believe in liberal politics, nor do they trust national security in the hands of a man who vows to scale back missile defenses. You can argue the validity of those exceptions that people take to Barack Obama, as long as you don't attach color to it. I don't think it's necessarily racist to vote for a candidate solely based on skin color, but if race trumps or occludes in any way the issues, whether it be matters of economic stability and national security, then it is nothing but racist. But to be clear, I'm not leveling any accusation.

And reading your other comment while I wrote this, there's nothing to forgive. Friends as always.

Alan said...

So I understand the sense of threat whites might feel as blacks rise out of second-class citizen status, but please give us some credit. We're not apes waiting for the opportunity to riot, regardless of what you're heard.

Yeah, I wrote that in response to the idea that you thought it was going to be a black revolution against Obama's defeat.

And too, I just think we are defining the word "racist" differently. But I think I understand your and Jada's Gigi points Is it wrong for (some) black people to want a black President and not care about the politics? And even if you think it is, can you understand why it might be so?

Alan said...

PS--I do understand that you didn't mean the Rodney King thing the way I took it.

Scott said...

Yes, I think it's wrong to vote along racial boundaries. And yes, I understand why it would and most certainly did in some cases happen. If Obama drops our defenses and our enemies press that advantage, or if he taxes corporations to unprofitability, costing jobs and a ripple effect that makes our situation today look like the 90's by comparison, I don't think anyone will be applauding anymore. If Condi had run she would have had my vote with far more alacrity than I gave mine for McCain. Not because she's a woman or black, but because she loves this country with an intensity that you can feel in your heart.

Alan said...

Okay Scott. I can accept your feelings on this. As long I have your understanding, we can continue to disagree about voting motives. Being your friend is important to me.

And I agree, if Obama screws the pooch I'll regret it in ways unimaginable. Because history will say, "See what happens?" among other things.

I'll let your other readers' informed support for Obama make up for the defense I can't provide. The only thing I can say is that Obama loves the country too. He's got two little girls he's trying to raise in it. It's hard to believe that he'd let it all get trashed and let any hope for his kids to grow up happy in America to be destroyed.

I know we're both hoping for the best.

Scott said...

The only see what happens I'll ever refer to is see what happens when you elect an out-of-touch liberal. But so far, from what I'm reading from invalid sources is that Obama is surrounding himself with centrists as pertains to intelligence gathering. That's a real good sign. How Obama is going to handle security is my biggest concern, and it appears that he isn't going in with his guns blaring. Again, a real good sign.

The Zombieslayer said...

Funny story - one of my buddies is a truck driver and is black as they come. He's overheard other truck drivers say they're voting for Obama even though he's black (obviously with resentment) because Bush has screwed up the economy so badly that they need change.

So I'm really wondering how little race came into play. I think Obama won because the economy's shot.

As for your kids, that's how kids are. I remember saying that X was my second favorite football team because a certain person liked them. I could never change my allegiance to the Packers, but my second favorite team always changed depending on who I was hanging out with.

Kids are just like that.

magnetbabe said...

Ok, I've been trying to stay above the fray on this one. I can defend Obama's policies and ideas, but I will never ever know what it's like to be black. Alan, you're doing a great job communicating what's it like but it doesn't change the fact I'll never walk a mile in your shoes.

I'll fully admit (and have before) that race did play a role when I voted for Obama in the primaries. Not a huge one, I would have never voted for an unqualified black candidate just because of race. But a point by point comparison of Barack and Hillary shows they were nearly identical in their policies. I honestly thought Obama was the better candidate and would do better against McCain but I also believe that with America's reputation being what it is, the election of an African American would immediately place us in better standing globally. And I think it has. Plus, we've had 43 white guys, let the black guy have a turn. I know A LOT of white people who felt similarly. I apologize if I am being too frank about this touchy subject, but that's how I feel.

But what made it so that I just couldn't resist commenting anymore was this:

The only see what happens I'll ever refer to is see what happens when you elect an out-of-touch liberal.

You're joking, right? I won't argue that fact that Obama was actually less liberal than both Hillary Clinton and John Edwards because I know you don't care. Liberal is still a bad word to you. But out of touch? How did Obama manage to connect with and galvanize so many first time voters, long time absent voters, and young voters? His message resonated with the working class which is the backbone of this country. Zombieslayer is right, he won on the economy because the Bush policies (that McCain wanted to continue) have not worked for the past eight years. Whether or not you agree with his policies or ideology you cannot assert that he is not acutely aware of skyrocketing unemployment, millions of foreclosures, and stagnant wages. McCain single-handedly lost himself the election the moment he admitted to not knowing much about the economy and saying the fundamentals were strong. That's out of touch.

Scott said...

I'm not joking. Obama could prove me wrong, but if he thinks drawing back on missile defenses is a smart move, then he's out of touch. You are defining "touch" as having a message that resonates with millions of people, I'm talking about recognizing the cold hard facts of life, something the masses aren't so good at. As long as they are warm in their homes the hard and dangerous work of securing the nation seems completely unnecessary and barbaric. Liberals call it fear mongering, but Obama is learning as we speak about the challenge Iran provides. I think with Obama as president that that kind of talk will go away. It's not made up to get votes; it's real and it has to be dealt with. I agree with Zombie too. Bush spent like a liberal. A true fiscal conservative shrinks government, and Bush clearly did the opposite. Tax reduction is what is needed to spur the economy, not more spending and more taxation. Both will have the net effect of taking money out of circulation. I don't even care about McCain to be honest. Obama's election is a bellwether for the Republican party, and maybe just what it needed to wake up. They need to find a representative that put them back on the track that Reagan put us on.

Kathleen said...

My father tried hard to make us all into Republicans just like took on most of his kids. He was furious with me once when I was in my early 20s and I argued with him about politics. He fairly spit the words "When you get older, you'll vote Republican." at me. I resented mightily the implication that I was too young and too stupid to know what was right for me or to make up my own mind about something.

Scott said...

Kat - That's what I'm trying to avoid with my own kids; I'm making it safe for them to have an independent opinion. My only hope is that they use their heads over their hearts, but have a large dose of both.