For many of us, our first experience of choice as a child is deciding what to wear or what to eat. Later, we expand those choices as to who we want to play with or what teams we want to join. Throughout our life we make important choices that shape our future and have an impact upon our family and friends. And every two years, on average, we are asked to make choices about what laws we want to be governed by and who we want to be our leaders.
However, despite many of us being comfortable making daily choices about our lives, the number of people participating in elections is declining. In 2016 the largest group in the election were the NON voters. We can argue that this may be because many are disillusioned with current politics, particularly the fighting and name calling, while others may not like any of the candidates on offer. But elections aren’t just for national issues. Many really important local issues are also up for consideration. For example, this year, locally, we get to choose two new City Council Members, vote for or against a local sales tax increase, vote for School Board Members and Public Utility Board Members. All those individuals standing for election are committed to giving their time and energy to helping our community. Some are very focused on individual issues, while others want to give back to the community they love. But all are willing to participate in the democratic process – a cornerstone of our Country and one which sets the US apart from other nations.
So why is it so important that you teach your children about voting, and even role model voting to them? Well first and foremost, democracy can only be successful if it has participants. Regardless of your political leanings, we can all agree that WE want a choice in how our country is run and the laws that WE have to follow. We may not like current politics, but we know that it could be worse if we lived under a dictatorship or a sovereign ruler. So we need to ensure that not only are we voting, but that we are creating the voters of the future. We also want to show our children that voting has an impact and that you can directly determine an outcome. And we want to encourage our children to be critical thinkers. We are being bombarded right now with attack ads and conflicting statements, and it is hard for adults to wade through all the information in order to make the right choices. So by sitting down with your child and looking in-depth at each proposition or measure, you can teach them an incredibly valuable lesson in the importance of research and facts. This will help them on the playground, in business and in their lives. People who have the skills to cut through the noise and make educated decisions are on the whole are happier and more successful than those who are indecisive or unsure.
Finally, for many people, who are, where we come from, our beliefs and our values play a really important role in our political beliefs. And particularly for our older, teenage members, it is important for them to start thinking about what values they hold as important and what kind of society they want to live in. Because our kids are the future, and we are making decisions now that will affect them more than us. So it is important that we take their viewpoints into consideration and help them to make our community, our country and our world, a better place.
Useful websites and links:
Voting for kids – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrG7zBUDiqQ
History of voting – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tFNq2hnpak
Guide to the electoral college – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKKol6SL_s4