Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Another Lesson From Parent To Child

First word. First step. First day at school. Gasp, first date. Watching my daughters grow has been filled with all these wonderful memories. And I know there are many more to come. First job, check. First time behind the wheel of a car, check. But with one daughter now of adult age, and my other not far behind, it is now the next level of “firsts” that will have an even bigger impact on their lives, more than just memories for dear old Dad.

We all remember this scene from the Lion King, where Mufasa and his son Simba overlook Pride Rock as well as when Mufasa explains to Simba where to avoid. Mufasa explains to Simba, “one day, this will all be yours.” It is a turning point Simba, more responsibility, growing up.

It is Election Day where my daughters live. And that means today, will be my older daughter’s first experience voting. I am hoping, as I want it to be, a positive experience for her, one that she should look forward to, and value. I do not remember my first election. I am fairly sure it was a presidential one, likely in 1984. My record in voting until I became a parent, admittedly could be considered spotty, not really having any interest in local politics. Which when you think about it, local politics are just as important if not more so, than the national elections, as your local elections have an immediate impact on you, especially when it comes to your local taxes such as real estate and school district.

I helped my daughter to register to vote. Check.

She received her voter card. Check.

Next, and one of the most important steps, was teaching my daughter, the importance of being an informed voter. Over the last two decades, the foundations of my electoral opinions have been formed and solidified. I do not believe in a two party system, much like Constitution framer John Adams warned about. I do not want to be limited to an “all or nothing” system of support when it comes to my vote. I can agree to some things from each major party, and I definitely detest things from both parties. One thing is certain, there is no “blind faith” or support for each party. I will vote on issues that have an impact on me.

And as I spoke with my daughter about today’s election, I am encouraging her to think that same way. I am doing my best not to lead her to vote for the “lesser of the two evils,” which is how I cynically look at every election. Instead, I want her to be an informed voter. I have taught her how to get informed, and what exactly does “information” look like.

In her first election, is a major decision, for school board directors. There are two slates of candidates, incumbents (those who are currently on the school board), and challengers. Given each of their campaigns, my daughter’s selection should be simple (I want to stress, I have no idea who she will vote for, nor will I ask). Only campaign has spent its time discussing issues, explaining successes, and plans for the future. The other campaign, has offered nothing but smears, lies, incited others to come to board meetings to interrupt and distract from the duties of the school board, as seen many times all across the country. And oddly, during a televised debate, that campaign actually praised the board members, unintentionally I am sure, by acknowledging just how well the school district has done and is doing. But they have offered nothing as far as a platform.

I have told my daughter that it is important not to be distracted by all the craziness of slurs and smears. If she does not hear any issue or platform, there is none. Why would you vote for them then?

So with emphasizing the importance of being an educated voter, and not to follow any red laser dots, comes the big day itself. Clearly, trips to the election poll have changed in recent years and it is important that we get back to the way it used to be, with civility. As a voter, you have the right to cast your vote without being harassed and intimidated. That does not just include walking through the gauntlet of campaign officials on the way inside the poll as they reach out to you, handing you their “recommendations” that my daughter should vote for. I have told her that any interference preventing her from getting inside, or intimidating her, is to call the police and the FBI. Tactics like that are illegal.

No, the next challenge will come when she checks in to vote at her local polling location. She does not possess a drivers license yet, so all she has is her student ID. But as I said, she is a registered voter. Therefore, if she is given a hard time or denied the opportunity to vote, she is to ask and if necessary demand, a “provisional” ballot. This will at least allow her vote to be cast and counted, once election officials deal with whatever bug is up their collective asses with a legitimate voter.

I explained to her, how to operate the voting booth, making sure she finalizes everything by pressing the final button to submit.

And then finally, as she exits the poll, hold her head high for doing not just her civic duty, but something she is guaranteed by the Constitution, vote for her representation. This is how a democracy is supposed to work, not the way we have seen over the last year. It will likely not be known until the morning who the victors will be, and unless the votes are close enough, we accept the results. That is how it works.

Final lesson for my daughter, voting is her right, her choice. She does not need nor is required, to discuss who she votes for, EVER! In fact, it is incumbent upon her not to discuss her politics with others. Actually, this is a lesson I have explained to her as personal for her, just as any religion. To discuss her opinions and choices is to invite potential adversity that she does not want, need, or deserve in her life. It is enough, just to for her to know, that she made an informed decision count on days like today.

Another first completed from parent to child. Still so many more to come.

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