I did not write a blog post last night because I wanted to instead remind my American readers that Election Day is today!
Election Day this year may not have the sort of attention that it had last year, but the elections this year are important in their own way. The importance of today’s elections are clear in places electing people to lead major cities (like New York City) and states (like New Jersey and Virginia). But elections for school board seats, county legislatures, and local sheriffs are also extremely important in their own way and will have an impact on the lives of many. Who we elect (or who we don’t elect) will help determine which problems get addressed, which ones are left unaddressed, and which ones end up worsening. The people we elect can also help determine the course of the current COVID-19 pandemic where we live and/or work.
So, as I just came back from voting in several races over here in New York City, including a vote for our next mayor, I’m going to end this post with one word, and one word only…
With Election Day happening next week in the United States, I hope that my readers in the States are making plans to vote, have made plans to vote, or have already voted. While there is no presidential election on the ballot this year, unlike last year, many of us have races at the local and state level—races involving representatives who, if elected, will in many ways have a greater impact on our day-to-day lives than who is elected as President of the United States every four years.
However, with Election Day coming up, I think we should talk about more than just the importance of voting. We should talk about the importance of parents having not just themselves, but also their kids, involved in the political process.
But why? Hasn’t it been said that the two topics to avoid at the dinner table are religion and politics?
While I understand why people want to avoid talking about politics at the dinner table (politics can be so stressful, frustrating, and at times infuriating), it is important to talk about politics at dinner (and other times), including and especially around your children, so that they can get exposure to:
Who their representatives are, at all levels of government
What some of the major issues are, at least from the perspectives of the parents or guardians
Who is running for office, and therefore who they may find themselves being represented by, in the future
What the process of voting and deciding on which candidates to vote for may look like
In addition to talking, there are other things that parents can do to expose their kids to the political process, such as:
Listening on television to news stories about candidates in various races (with the caveat that some news sources offer more balanced coverage of the races than other sources)
Watching a televised debate for a political office with kids
Taking children with you to the polls
Taking children to see legislative activity going on, whether it be at the local, state, or federal level
Some kids may end up largely agreeing with their parents’ political stances while others may end up largely disagreeing. And some may end up somewhere in between. That is to be expected, but what should not be expected is to not talk about politics with a kid one is raising, so that they end up being ill-informed on politics and the people running for various political offices when they are all grown up.
After all, the goal is for the children to grow up as kind, caring, and well-informed citizens of the areas, country, and world they reside in. Not doing all we can to ensure this would be an injustice to the kids and to the world.
Under normal circumstances, I would be telling all of you, my readers, to vote when Election Day comes in the United States (sorry to readers who don’t live in the States).
But these are not normal circumstances. We are in the midst of a global pandemic, so given the crowds that accumulate at many polling places on Election Day, some may hesitate to go to the polls. That is understandable.
However, that is not an excuse to avoid voting. Many places have early voting—a period of voting before Election Day where you can go to a polling place at a time that works for you, during a time when crowds are hopefully light. Many places allow you to cast a mail-in or absentee ballot, which would allow you to get a ballot delivered to you and then you can send the ballot back via the mail. There are even a few states that only have vote-by-mail, but contrary to what President Trump may like you to believe, there is actually very little fraud that goes on with this method of voting—just ask Washington’s Republican Secretary of State.
If you’re not sure of what your options are for sending your ballot, contact your local Board of Elections office. It is the job of your local Board of Elections to give you the proper information on when and how to vote. Don’t be shy about using your Board of Elections in that manner. And, if you’re not sure how to reach out to your local Board of Elections, please let me know—I can try to find that information on your behalf.
But regardless of how you vote, make sure that you vote and vote safely. If you go to a polling place, either for early voting or on Election Day, please wear a mask and practice social distancing. If you are voting by mail, don’t waste your time with your mail-in ballot, as Election Day is two weeks from tomorrow. But please vote.
P.S. As I was getting ready to schedule this post for publication, I realized that this is my 200th post. So yay for this milestone post being about voting!
When we go to vote in November, many of us will vote based on how much we agree with the principles of a particular candidate. Some of us may even decide to vote for a candidate because of a single issue a candidate has a particular stance on (something I strongly advise against because a president will have to deal with not one issue, but many issues). But my guess is that not as many of us will vote for a president based on how well or poorly someone has managed, or would manage, crises. And that should change.
One of the certainties of a sitting president is that the president will need to confront crises. If you’re not convinced of that, look at this list of recent presidents and the incomplete group of crises they each had to confront:
Donald Trump: COVID-19 pandemic, economic downturn as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hurricane Maria in 2017, and Hurricane Harvey in 2017
Barack Obama: Superstorm Sandy in 2012, numerous mass shootings (Pulse, Aurora, and Charleston, to name three), and the Great Recession
George W. Bush: The Great Recession, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and 9/11
Bill Clinton: Columbine shooting in 1999, Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, and Northridge, California earthquake in 1994
George H.W. Bush: Hurricane Andrew in 1992, Savings and Loan crisis, and Bay Area Earthquake in 1989
Ronald Reagan: Challenger rocket disaster in 1986 and Hurricane Alicia in 1983
And these are only the recent presidents. Going further back in history, presidencies were viewed as among the greatest or among the worst, in large part because of how those presidents handled crises. For example, Abraham Lincoln is considered among the all-time great presidents in large part due to his successful handling of the Civil War, while his predecessor, James Buchannan, is widely regarded as the worst because of his inaction as states seceded from the Union. Herbert Hoover is consistently ranked among the worst presidents due to his relative inaction when the Great Depression started, while his successor Franklin D. Roosevelt is widely regarded as among the greatest because so many thought that he responded to the Depression and World War II in a way that America became arguably the world’s strongest economic power for decades to come. A president’s response to a crisis can define a presidency, and sometimes even the course of the country for decades.
I’m not saying that one has to completely ignore the principles and positions taken up by the candidates. To the contrary, looking at principles and positions is an important part of figuring out who you want in the White House. However, figuring out how well a candidate would handle a crisis if elected is vastly underrated.
For those of my readers who are in the United States, please
remember to vote tomorrow.
While much attention may be focused on the election for
President that is about one year from now, the smaller elections are important
as well. Elections for local and state offices, as well as referendums on your
ballot, can have a major impact on whether certain injustices are addressed or
So, while the excitement may not be there for the elections
in 2019 quite like there will be for the elections in 2020, I encourage all of my
American readers to vote. As for all of my non-American readers, I hope that
you will also vote when/if you have elections.