Thursday, January 22, 2009

Small Town Politics

I started to be more politically responsible about six years ago, I guess. Growing up in a ultra-conservative town I was pretty much told what to believe, usually in the form of scare tactics and propaganda. This applied to everything: religion, politics, social stereotypes, the world in general... To make matters worse, there was no objective point of view even from the education system. It was completely one-sided as well.

I got involved during the 2004 election, not really because I was madly in love with John Kerry, rather I was terrified for Bush to become the president. (Side note: I did like Howard Dean until he pulled a Beavis and freaked out.) So then came the 2008 election and initially I was 100% behind Hills. I was put off by Obama for a while, mostly because Oprah endorsed him in an elitist and condescending way. Anyway, I digress.

January 20 was, to put it simply, an inspiring day. I had my daughter stay home to watch the inauguration because it's important to me that she experiences REAL LIFE. (And it's total bullshit that they don't broadcast presidential inaugurations in the schools.) To me, it is not just historical because Obama is the first African-American president, or because of all the other "firsts" in the 2008 election, it is historical because it is the first time in my life that I have seen such a demonstration of unity and hope in our country. It was the first time I've felt like our president has spoken genuinely and from his heart. And based on the faces and energy of inauguration day, it seemed everyone unequivocally wants what he is promising. If only for one day, it felt like the people in this country could all relate and get behind the same values and goals. I mean, party affiliations aside, how can you NOT appreciate what this man is willing to do for us?

I hope everyone continues this year in the same spirit. I am going to do what I can in my town to help people realize that hope and confidence isn't instilled within our children by sheltering them and fostering ignorance. People in small towns like mine started stockpiling automatic weapons and guns last week. They acted like they were preparing for the end of the world. And BEFORE the election, here are some REAL quotes from my tiny town:

"If Obama is elected, he's going to kill all the babies."

"If Obama wins, he'll take away our guns and we won't be able to eat."

"Boys will start marrying boys if Obama becomes president."

These quotes came from kids at my daughter's elementary school. She's 12. She and my 8-year-old niece were the only ones who voted for Obama in their mock elections. One little boy in the second grade told my niece that if he ever meets Obama, he's going to "punch him in the nuts". (Do second graders even know what nuts are???) The kids were simply replicating what they had overheard or been told at home.

Our daughters' ideas do not come from my sister and I brainwashing them or telling them how or what to think. I encourage my daughter to be vigilant, to think for herself, to question everything, check her facts, and always use common sense. Trust me, she's learned well. She questions me and makes me answer for everything.

About two years ago I went into my daughter's room; she has an official (and illegal) STOP sign hanging up. On it she had written, in her little nine-year-old handwriting, "BUSH" under STOP. She had drawn peace signs, hearts and sayings about making the world a better place without war. She even threw in an "I love John Kerry." I have never been more proud of her in my life. Okay, actually I have but this experience was right up there.

My point is that she and I had discussed politics minimally. I'm sure she heard a lot of information at school, an ear full from my grandma, and probably some of my opinions. Yet she decided for herself which principles she wanted to support. It was exciting!

And now, I have never been more excited for the future of our country. I really have no words for inauguration day and the emotions it stirred within me. These feelings are new to me, but I AM inspired and excited. It makes me wonder if this is how my grandparents used to feel about the government, the flag, freedom, and liberty. 

Anydamnway, I think Obama is going to rock! The End.

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