Young Voters

The earliest memory I have of a national news event dates back to being at a babysitter’s house and watching a black-and-white television of President Nixon resigning. While I recall getting an explanation of what was going on, I also remember the sitter being upset with the pre-empting of her soap opera.

Gerald Ford proceeded to take office, of course, and that led to the first Election Day I remember. Ford vs. Carter, November 1976. I know my brother can easily look back on it, too, even though he was only 6 at the time. Shortly after Carter’s victory, he sent a letter to the new president telling him of the mock election we had in our home. “Poor Ford. It’s sad he lost. I love him, and I love you, too!” were the words I’m quite certain he wrote. In return, he received a large packet of information about the functions of the U.S. government, its contents way over the heads of either of us.

This election was over the head of my 5-year-old son, Zachary, but 7-year-old daughter Grace was definitely attuned to the fact that Barack Obama was running for re-election against Mitt Romney. She also had some knowledge of what was going on at the local level, as she knows Alan Oberloh’s grandson from her pre-school days and understood that Worthington’s current mayor, as I tried to explain, wanted to go to work for the whole state of Minnesota and not just Worthington.

I’d like to think that she’ll always remember waking up this past Wednesday morning and having me give her the Daily Globe to see that Obama had won. Later in the day, I went out and got her a USA Today that had more election coverage. Yes, I realize she probably won’t read 99.5 percent of it, but I wanted her to have something to remember the day by. (I also must say that Becca’s reaction was classic. “Why did you do that?” she asked, with the insinuation that I’m creating a pack rat in my own mold.

Grace asked some occasionally out-there questions about the candidates leading up to the elections, the origins of which are hard to know exactly. Still, I couldn’t help but be excited about the fact that she was at least somewhat engaged, and she was very proud to have an “I voted” sticker she received Tuesday at school. Perhaps this will bode well for potential involvement in her community — and beyond? — as an adult.

Then again, perhaps it’s best to encourage her to stay away from an eventual political career. After all, if she does run for office someday, who knows what kind of dirt her opponents would try to dig up on her dear old dad?