For the first time in my life, I’m an undecided voter. I shared some of my personal concerns about Trump and Clinton in a piece for Refinery29.
Though Election Day is less than three months away, I still don’t know whom I will support for president. That wouldn’t be so surprising if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve spent most of my adult life working in Republican politics. I’ve helped direct millions of dollars and hundreds of volunteers to sway undecided voters while working for several GOP candidates, including for three Republican presidential campaigns. In 2012, I worked for the Republican National Committee (RNC). And that fall, I joined Mitt Romney’s presidential team.
But now, for the first time in my life, I am one of those undecided voters I once courted.
I’m a woman, a new mom, a wife, and a proud Hispanic American, the daughter of a Mexican immigrant and a Cuban political refugee. Above all, I am an American who believes in the importance of getting involved in our nation’s democracy. Yet, given that this election seems like a bad joke, I am not surprised by the growing apathy surrounding it.
The things that Donald Trump has said and done make me uneasy and physically uncomfortable. Trump’s reckless language about women, Hispanics, refugees, and immigrants, as well as his attacks on religion and his recurring assaults on fellow Republicans make me feel like he is taking my vote for granted.
There is no doubt this crazy political environment is impacting our children’s perceptions on what makes a person a leader. Time Magazine looks at how the 2016 election cycle is impacting kids’ expectations on leadership and how parents can counter what Time calls the “Three Terrible Things the Election Is Teaching Your Child.”
Among the top three “terrible things” is lesson number 1) “I can say whatever I think without regard for anyone else.” Sadly, it seems that every time we turn on the news we see a candidate in midst of a tirade of personal attacks against their opponent. Weekly, at times daily, we are exposed to discussions on what many consider racist, bigoted, vulgar and sexist language, and left to explain what it means to our children.
The Time piece, authored by Michelle Kinder, executive director of Momentous Institute in Dallas, a program dedicated to developing social emotional health in children, provides parents with insight on how to teach good behavior:
“When children see adults out of control, they learn that self-control doesn’t matter. To counter this kind of modeling, social emotional health experts teach kids that there’s a difference between reacting and responding, and that they have the power to choose. Teaching kids the basic biology of their emotions gives them a greater sense of control over powerful feelings. Even very young children can understand that when they are overly emotional, their amygdala has taken charge and that they need to breathe and focus attention before responding. If only our presidential candidates would do the same.”
I asked friends for their thoughts on what good and bad lessons the current election cycle is teaching our children. Their resonsponses were not positive.
The internet fell in love with this 8th grader, Jack Aiello, who brilliantly impersonate the presidential candidates during his graduation speech from Thomas Middle School in the Chicago area.
“Politics has been something he’s been interested in for several years,” explained the boy’s father, John to ABC News. “He’s always been good with impressions, so while watching along with his mom and I, he picked up phrases and mannerisms of the candidates.”
Aiello, who combined his love of politics and impressions to deliver one of the most memorable videos of this election, highlights the importance of talking to your kids about politics.
Like it or not, politics is everywhere. Either you talk to you kids about the candidates or someone else will, be it a teacher, fellow students, or the whip-lash causing commentary of television news.
We all know children are like a sponge, they absorb everything. Parents need to ensure children are learning the correct lessons from this presidential election. Ask them questions to help them think critically and learn different perspectives. You can make it as simple (What does the President do? Learn about electoral college) or as complicated (policy difference between the candidates) as you’d like. Here are some ideas, lesson plans and printables: here, here, here and here.
We applaud the Aiello family for talking to their son about politics and making it a family experience. We hope more families use this crazy election to talk about politics and government to their kids.