Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Kids Vote

I voted first thing this morning. All told it took about an hour and felt sooo good. Ah democracy. Don't fail us now.

Then I went back to middle school. No, really. I'm spending the day with some 8th graders at a Middle School in Minneapolis talking about global citizenship. I'm making the connection between the right and responsibility to vote and the responsibility to understand issues beyond our borders and take action to resolve global issues or respond to injustices.

At the beginning of class, the students get to vote and the comments I've been hearing have varied. Some highlights include, "do I have to?" (teacher's answer: no - its your right as a citizen to abstain from voting), "what are these other categories?" (of course, people know about the presidential race, and maybe the senate races, but not much beyond that), "it's stupid just to vote based on race" (there was an interesting discussion/argument about this in the largely African American class) and "all these people are running for president?" (this girl was appalled that she hadn't heard of them...which I can understand. The teacher said it was their fault that they hadn't gotten their name out there more...which is a pretty oversimplified explanation, but it wasn't really the time to go into party politics). Anyway, it's been an interesting morning. (Oh and in case you're wondering...it's lunchtime:)

And just to make the connection between peace and this election, I just want to point out how lucky we are that we don't have to fear a military coup, rebellion or violent uprisings at the end of the day. Sure some people may not be happy with the result. But even 8 years ago when we didn't have a clear winner there was no mass violence. We don't hear about everything, and I'm sure there have been some instances of intimidation, but when you compare our election to so many others, I think we should all feel pretty lucky that our election is so peaceful. Even if it is long as hell.