Swing Vote

We were looking for a movie last weekend…something we would ALL enjoy….and found ‘Swing Vote’ at a local second run theater. This movie, starring Kevin Costner, was about a drunken ner’do well father that finds himself the center of national attention when HIS uncounted vote will determine the outcome of a presidential election. His dismay at having voted at all – a vote actually cast by his disgruntled 10 year old daughter – and the ensuing attention from both political camps as they try to sway his vote was fun, and a little frightening, to watch. The lengths that politicians will go through to get your vote was amazing. The play acting. The ‘half truths’. The ‘gifts.’ Costner’s character, driven by his frustrated daughter (a cute performance by Madeline Carroll), begins to see and understand the responsibility of his vote. As the movie ended at a moment that does not reveal the winner of the election, it caused a lot of discussion in the car on the way home. Mostly between HRH and I. Then a voice popped up from the back seat asking if you really HAD to vote.

The Prince has always been my child to whom transition and choices are difficult. He has as much difficulty choosing between Cinnamon Life and Fruit Loops now as he did when he was four. (I will never forget the morning I finally just poured BOTH into his cereal bowl….and he was supremely happy.) This is a little disconcerting. He is too young to vote in this Presidential election, but will be able to cast his vote in the next one. I worry that we have not prepared him for that.

My Dad and I could really go at it in a political discussion when I was growing up. I was always ready to voice my opinion on anything and everything. It was at our dinner table that I learned to be responsible with my choices. If I felt strongly about a candidate or an issue I had to be prepared to defend my stance. I have tried to foster that at my dinner table as well. HRH doesn’t like to be challenged and tends to back down after sputtering a bit. My son does that as well. It won’t be a problem with my daughter. She is like her mom in being willing to stand up to any issue. (Our current debate? Why a sloppy, hand me down tee shirt is not appropriate for school. So far I am winning that one.)

Choices are always harder when you have had more experiences. Now that I am an adult, so many more things come into play when making choices. The biggest being how it will affect my children and the world they live in.

Because of our experiences with infertility and adoption, I have issues with Pro-Choice that I have difficulty reconciling. Because of their tactics and inappropriate use of pictures with aborted fetuses, I have HUGE issues with Right To Life. Because of the difficulty I have scraping together enough pennies to fill my gas tank, I tend to look long and hard at a candidate’s stance on oil drilling on US soil. But, because of my affinity with and respect for the natural world, I tend to be more aware of messing with natural habitats of…say…polar bears? I simply can NOT support sending US soldiers off to fight wars on foreign soil. I do not feel that ‘The American Way’ is the best way for everyone. Viet Nam was a huge part of my adolescence, after all. And yet I am constantly having to check myself when talking to friends whose sons, grandsons and nephews are stationed in hot spots defending the democratic way of life. I listen to Christian stations on my car radio because I am one and like the music…but always lose patience with the hosts who constantly slam and rant and make ‘Christian’ comparisons. Don’t even get me started on health care. I have parents on a fixed income with health issues that suck away at their bank account and students whose parents cannot afford to repair eye glasses or get proper meds when they are sick because they are too ‘wealthy’ to fit the too poor scenario. My family is enclosed in a cushion of excellent health care programs that I honestly wish I could share and am selfish enough to want to maintain at all costs.

So, how to impart on my son that it is his responsibility to be aware and to make the choices he feels are right? I am listening to what he has to say. I am silently frustrated with some of his decision making processes but am reminding myself that he is still a kid….with fewer experiences. I am encouraging him to discover that there is a reading world outside of ‘Sports Illustrated’ by having newspapers, ‘Time’ and ‘Newsweek’ handy. No more Cartoon Network’. The only thing they are allowed to watch in the morning on a school day are news programs – hoping that they will ‘catch’ something other than just the weather as they eat breakfast and get ready to go.

My children WILL go to the polling place with me in November. They always do. This time I hope they begin to realize what a way cool and responsible right it is to be there. This time, we have chance to make history….no matter what the outcome.

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3 Comments on “Swing Vote”

  1. Miranda Says:

    What a profound entry! I guess I have always been like you and your daughter, ready to stand up to what it is I believe is right. I think I mostly get that from my mother, however I have more tact and more empathy for others involved. 😛
    As far as Politics go, I am conflicted. I consider myself liberal, fighting for the causes of the working class on issues such as health care that everyone can afford, equal opportunity in Education, etc, etc. However, I see myself on the other side of the line at times. I believe in defending ourselves as Americans, but not going elsewhere just because we believe what we believe is best. I believe abortion is wrong—but I have a problem with the government being involved in making that decision. I believe in opportunity for all, but I do not believe in “affirmative action.” (Is that a contradiction?)

    Anyway, it is good to know your kids will be going with you on Nov 4. Not enough kids do go with their parents. 😉

  2. marymurtz Says:

    You’re right; it is a quandary. And so many people tell their children how to vote and don’t bother encouraging them to research, learn and decide on their own. You are doing the right thing.

    I didn’t vote in a presidential election until I was 24 because I didn’t consider myself informed enough prior to that. I’m glad I waited.

    Very good post.

  3. Mary Ellen Says:

    I was talking to one of my cousins the other day…and could not believe it when he told me he doesn’t have health insurance! He’s 38 years old and very healthy, but anybody could have an accident. I hope he doesn’t. (I almost feel like I’m cursing him by writing about this!) Anyway, he’s self-employed and says he just can’t afford to buy a policy. Ugh. It’s crazy. And how much are we spending on that war??

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