Teaching civics at the polls

Published 12:30 am Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Monday marked my daughter’s fifth birthday, and Tuesday, you would have thought she had turned 15 instead of 5. Eager to spend the morning with her mama, she decided she needed to go “help” me vote. With all the apathy in governmental affairs these days, I thought it was my motherly duty to instill in her the importance of voting. So, we had a little chat about it being her duty to vote, and since we’re women, it’s even more important that we take the time to vote. I hauled her down to the community center with me to cast a vote for one of the men running for sheriff in Crenshaw County. While there, I got a string of questions ranging from who I voted for to why I chose that particular candidate. I took the time to explain to her my reasons on the way home. Her next question surprised me, when she asked me, “What happens if your candidate doesn’t win, Mama?” As any mother would, I explained to her that, while, of course, we all want our candidates to win, it doesn’t always happen, but we still exercise our rights to vote. Our vote is our voice. I’m sure at 5, she doesn’t understand, but after I dropped her off with my grandparents, I begin to think of the importance of the conversation we had, and how it’s vitally important that as parents we instill in our children the necessity of taking the time to go to the polls. Not only should we encourage them to understand the importance of casting a vote, but also casting an educated vote by knowing what the issues are at hand and what each candidate can or cannot offer. Thinking back, my grandmother always took my sisters and I with her to vote when we were younger. Sure, just like my daughter, we didn’t understand the issues that were at hand, but it became second nature to know that when an election rolled around that it was our duty to participate. My grandfather and I have always debated and talked about the elections since I was a teenager. He would give his insight on why he cast a vote for a particular candidate. Our views don’t always line up these days, but that’s the beauty of the process. They don’t have to.