This Whole Campaign Looks a Lot Different to an Eight-Year-Old

Sat, February 23, 2008

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Trying to explain our electoral process to an eight-year-old is like trying to help your child make sense of why the boys who like you in the classroom pick on you during recess.

It’s all a bit inscrutable.

What’s even harder is trying to help a second-grader grasp that while the election coverage that mommy is addicted to has been going on since before she started this school year, that things won’t be over until she’s settled into next year’s school routine.

“But WHY?” is PunditGirl’s continual response when I try to explain why we don’t have a new President yet. We had this discussion after the New Hampshire primary:

PunditGirl: “But who won last night?”

PunditMom: “Well, Hillary Clinton for the Democrats and John McCain for the Republicans.”

PG: “So which one is President?”

PM: “Well, no one yet because all the other states have to vote first, then we all vote again.”

PG (with eight-year-old scowl): Well … then who’s ahead? Who has the most points?”

PM: “It doesn’t work like that. First we have to see who gets the most points for each side, then those two candidates get to talk some more, through the summer, about who they think would do a better job and then we get to vote again, but not until November.”

PG (with visible shock and disgust): “You mean we won’t know who has the most points until after I’m in third grade?”

Kind of puts the ridiculously long election season in perspective, doesn’t it?

The idea of a candidate dropping out of the presidential race is a ludicrous one for my budding pundit. In her mind, if you get in you stay in until someone wins.

When I told PunditGirl that Mommy’s first choice, John Edwards, had dropped out of the race, she was horrified. Even though PunditGirl is supporting Hillary (her theory being that if you’re a girl, you should vote for the girl!), she was pretty exasperated at the idea of giving up.

PG: “But Mom, he can’t know the future! What if all of a sudden more people start to vote for him? Then won’t he be sorry?”

Sort of like when you’re playing Sorry! – you never know who’s going to win, because fortunes can turn on a dime.

Ah, young optimism! I need to get me some of that!

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4 Responses to “This Whole Campaign Looks a Lot Different to an Eight-Year-Old”

  1. Pendullum Says:

    And coming from your neighbour to the north, I hope to follow your lessons to PunditGirls on the American electorial process will make some sense to me.

  2. Jerseygirl89 Says:

    I love PunditGirl. She’s got some great points.

  3. Robert Says:

    I completely agree that the peculiar process by which we decide who is nominated is rather insane at this point. Why should someone in New York or California care what someone in Iowa thinks? Or South Carolina? Why should so few get to dictate to so many that a certain candidate basically gets no votes because they person gives up before it ever gets to their state? With some winner-takes-all states (on the Republican side), some caucuses, and then some super delegates (on the Democratic side) to muddy the waters of it all, it’s no wonder that average voter is completely dissinterested in politics.

  4. slouching mom Says:

    The process DOES take too long. I think she’s right.


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