Over the past few weeks this is probably the question I have been most frequently asked at school. I hear it almost hourly, on Friday one of the other students then said “You’re not supposed to ask that.” I tried not to laugh.
I have never revealed to students who I vote for, it’s personal and I don’t want nor do I have the right to influence my student’s decisions on who they vote for (though I know there are man people who feel that is exactly what schools are these days) I want them to be educated voters and vote with their beliefs and conscience. It seems who you vote for becomes a more contentious issue each election. I see people on Facebook actually deleting people from their friends’ list due to political beliefs, it’s really disheartening. I know my views don’t align with all of my friends or family but that doesn’t change how I feel about them. They are still my family and friends. I’m not going to disown someone because their beliefs are different. Rather I want to learn why they feel the way they do, what is it that has led them to their beliefs.
So when students ask me that question I don’t tell who I’m voting for rather I share with them my process, looking at the candidates and their stance on issues I find more important and it should come as no surprise that education is at the top of that list. I remind students to never take commercials at face value, always look further into issues esp when looking at the federal government as bills can contain more than one issue. Since students are usually familiar with The Simpsons I mention the episode Bart’s Comet where the comet is coming and predicted to destroy Springfield. Congress has a bill to evacuate and someone tacks on a rider for the “perverted arts” the bill is then defeated.
While this is a cartoon I tell my students that this is often how things work one party will add something to a bill they don’t want passed to keep the other party from passing it, and it happens on both sides of the aisle. This is all to tell them to look deeper, when a commercial claims someone voted against something or for something, look to see what else was on that bill that they were truly voting for or against.
So today at the beginning of each hour I asked my students to write on a sheet of paper with no name on it who they would vote for and why, specifically why NOT why they wouldn’t vote for the other candidates. I did list the five candidates on the ballot in Missouri for president.
Even stating specifically to tell what it is you support about that candidate I’ve gotten several responses that students would vote for one because the other is awful, or an idiot, or retarded, lots of the comments about Hillary being a liar and deleting e-mails or about Trump being disrespectful and some about Trump just blurting things out. A few said they’d vote for Hillary because she would be the first female president (sorry this to me is not a good reason, wouldn’t matter which side the woman was on I’m not voting for someone because of gender or ethnicity, I vote on issues hopefully my students will come to that point in time, like before they actually vote for president the first time) I had a few say they just wouldn’t vote. One said she’d move to Canada and Long Live the Queen (we may have had a discussion about how the queen is still technically the Sovereign of the democratic government in Canada during our discussion on serial killers which is a whole other post). One student said they’d write in Taylor Swift and at least one student say out loud that they would write in Bernie Sanders though in Missouri we have a list of people you can write in who filed to be write-ins so that wouldn’t work. Another wants to vote for a potato, one student just wants government to be quiet (can’t say I blame them)
I think disappointing is the student who said they would vote for Trump because the idea of a female president is scary or the one who said their mother doesn’t want them paying attention to all of this. While I understand wanting to let your kid be a kid, kids today see and hear it all, don’t bury your head in the sand. Talk to them about what you believe and why, tell them who you are voting for and why, especially if two people in the home are voting for different people. Present facts NOT opinions, let them start to learn about the world around them so that they will be more educated voters when it’s their time to vote.
Some of the reason students put why they actually support one candidate include:
- he isn’t going to start a war
- he is going to protect the second amendment
- he would lower taxes
- he will stop illegal immigration which will stop weird diseases from spreading
- I believe he will support the military
- he will make the borders more secure
- he’s going to take care of Mexicans and foreign people in our country and we don’t need foreign people in our country
- he will keep our companies from moving to other countries
- I also agree with him on not letting people get late abortions
- he has a lot of money and could use it for helping society
- he’s building a wall (THIS is overwhelmingly the most popular answer)
- if we go to war he can help fund the war with his money and other resources
- I don’t watch the news or care about politics but he’s in the Republican party (teacher note this is exactly the kind of thing I don’t want to see from any student about any party it makes me sad and worried)
- it might be good to have someone who isn’t a politician
- he is a businessman and maybe just maybe he will pull us out of our debt (THIS was the second most common answer)
- get rid of Obamacare (teacher note: whether you like it or not could you please refer to it by it’s proper name the ACA the Affordable Care Act, or at least take a play on words off of that like the UCA Unaffordable Care Act)
- because he doesn’t support Common Core (teacher note again: we now have our own learning standards in Missouri so not sure why they’re worried about Common Core but maybe we haven’t made that clear to them yet)
- he will increase the pay for our military
- because he doesn’t kill people
- committed to education
- because he is trustworthy
- he is nicer
- because he knows what he’s talking about
- because he doesn’t support abortion
- She has the experience
- she would lower taxes
- Help with Obamacare (there it is again)
- she is fair to all sexualities
- she supports everyone’s rights: women’s rights, gay rights, people of color rights, and many more
- she is going to raise minimum wage
- she has respect for women
- she doesn’t make giant assumptions
- she can learn from her husband and his mistakes (interesting idea, she does have a unique view of what it’s like to run the country whether or not that makes her qualified it is an interesting thought)
- she wants to improve marriage rights
- she sounds more trustworthy
- and sounds like she knows what she’s doing
- she wants to help with children
- she wants to work on education
- she wants women to be able to access reproductive health care
- she has a plan
Gary Johnson: students don’t seem to know much about him, this may be due to the fact that much of his campaigning has been done through social media like Facebook and Twitter, the students that have chosen him are doing so because he is not Trump or Clinton
Dr. Jill Stein:
- we looked up what the green party is and they would fix problems like the ecosystems and social stuff
- the green party wants to change the big 4: peace, ecology, social justice, democracy
I had a few students take time to look up the candidates websites to do some quick research, this gives me hope.
All of this makes me curious if students and adults for that matter were simply presented with the platforms and plans of each candidate who would they vote for? Maybe present some of the issues not usually covered by the media. Does the spewed vitriol really change voters opinions that much? I’d love to do that as an experiment and if we had class tomorrow instead of a field trip I just might try it but our building is a polling place so we need to be out of here as it will be a really busy place.
The final Kid’s Vote in our building had Trump winning in a landslide, my son said his school went Trump, the Scholastic kids vote went to Clinton and the newsela site vote went to Clinton. It’s going to be an interesting election and an interesting aftermath, I’m wondering if I’ll be going to bed with the same feeling of unease I had in 2000 when we didn’t know for sure if George W. Bush or Al Gore would be president.