Jonas was born during a heated democratic primary in which both a woman and an African American man were vying for the Democratic nomination for President. Hillary Clinton was the front-runner and Barak Obama was gaining momentum. This was ground breaking. Two days after Jonas turned six months old, the Democratic party selected Sen. Barack Obama as their presidential nominee. Another historic moment. The next day Republican nominee Sen. John McCain chose Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. She is the first woman to ever run on the Republican's presidential ticket. It would appear that we have truly turned a corner in American politics.
Although he doesn't understand what we're saying, Jonas often overhears conversations about the implications of this incredibly important election. That Jonas's father will even engage with me in these conversations is an historic change in and of itself. Jonas, however, is such a passionate and expressive guy that I expect he'll have an opinion about politics-- indeed about anything and everything!--when he grows up. And this is fine by me. In fact, it's what I hope for.
There's a quote out there, of course, now I can't find it, but it speaks to the success of a democracy being predicated upon an informed citizenry. I believe strongly in this notion, and you can be sure that Jonas will grow up feeling the effects of my conviction on this point. I would go one step further and add that the basic tenets of being a good citizen, and by that I mean informed and involved, are learned in the home.
It's all about dialog, modeling responsible citizen behavior, and respect for varying opinions. I don't expect, nor do I want, our son to think just like me, or just like his father. I expect him to arrive at his own conclusions, just be able to defend them. I dream of spirited conversations among our family. I intend to make voting day a family holiday. Voting is a privilege for many, a right for us in America, and our duty. I can't wait to go to our polling station with Jonas is tow so that I can point out our democracy in action.
Now, don't think that I'm going to impart some rosy notion about our democracy being infallible or in some perfect state. Our nation is confronted by a myriad problems that involve corruption of our democratic processes, distrust of those in government and an apathetic population that throws away its right to cast a vote. But, what I am going to convey is that it starts with you, one individual. Don't be waiting for someone else to take action. There will always be someone else who will act. The question is will it be in our best interest, or the best interest of our school, town, our state, our nation? If you leave it up to someone else, you will likely be disappointed.
For now, since Jonas can't walk, talk, or legally vote, he'll have to tag along with me. His civic engagement officially kicked off a few weeks ago with the arrival of my Obama yard sign. I ripped into the box with giddy delight and marched the fam outside to stick it in the yard. This is my very first yard sign. Next week will bring the second civic act, the trip to the polling station. After that it's time for bed. Staying up late to watch the election coverage and calming the nerves with several glasses of wine are saved for adults. You'll get your chance... in 2026.