Why I Voted for my Kids Instead of Mitt Romney

Last night I picked up Kyla and George from their after-school program. Kyla got into the car and announced that they were having a mock election at school tomorrow, and that she was going to vote for Mitt Romney, because Barack Obama would raise our taxes!

To which I responded, “What!”

I was surprised because my daughter is Barack Obama’s biggest fan. She has been since before 2008. Whenever she would hear someone on the radio criticize the president, she would shout, “Aw! Come on!” I would try to explain how Obama was not a perfect president, and he had done some things I disagreed with, but Kyla would not have it. She was with Barack all the way. So I was shocked that she would so quickly change her “vote.”

Two-out-of-Three Progeny at my Polling Place

The deeper I dug into her logic, the clearer it was to me that my daughter had succumbed to a lot of peer pressure from her classmates and at least one teacher (not her homeroom teacher). We talked a bit more about the facts, about how the tax increases Obama was proposing would not apply to our family. She felt she had been deceived, and she was more than a little miffed. So was I.

I am a political person, but I am not all that partisan. Whenever Kyla and I talk about politics and civics, I try to use the opportunity to help her learn how to reason and to recognize spin and manipulation. Thus I told her last night that I did not care whom she voted for, as long as she understood why she was doing it. She needed to study the facts and issues for herself.

My talk last night affected how I voted today. A couple of weeks ago, I confessed that I was thinking about voting for Mitt Romney because perhaps the only way to bring actual systemic change is to make our plutocracy official. Yesterday, I was still an undecided voter. I was undecided this morning, too, all the way up until I made the choice to take the kids with me to the polls. It is something I try to do when I vote (but this was the first time I have attempted it with three little ones in tow).

As Kyla stood, looking over my shoulder, I cast my vote for Obama. I did it because it was the clearest way I thought she could understand that other people do not tell her whom to vote for (not even me). She is free to make up her own mind. Voting for someone her friends and teachers said to avoid was the best way I felt I could help her understand that just because her peers say something – just because an authority figure says something! – does not mean they are right.

In other words, I voted for Obama because, in that moment, it was the best way I could protest against “the system.” My daughter does not know Marx yet. She would not have understood the rationale behind my decision to vote for Mitt. To her, it would have looked like I was going along with the crowd.

But there is another reason I voted for Obama. It is not that I think we will be better off. At best, I think we will be putting off the inevitable. The economic and social injustices prevalent in our society are not sustainable, but I would be a bad daddy if I told my kids what they had to worry about. I do not tell them that bad guys actually could break into our house and steal our stuff, I assure them that the nearby tornado will not hurt us, and today I voted for Obama.

“There, there, little ones. Everything will be alright.”

12 thoughts on “Why I Voted for my Kids Instead of Mitt Romney”

  1. You taught her to think for herself by not thinking for yourself? She influenced your vote, through peer pressure (so her peers influenced your vote), so others should influence hers. The way I see it, you taught her precisely the opposite.

    1. This doesn’t make sense to me. Do you think that I explained to her what was going on in my head? Yes, I made a decision as a father; living in a solidly red state, to show my daughter that it is okay to be a spec of blue (or red or whatever other color you want). I responded to what her friends were doing. So I guess that is peer pressure, but in reverse in this case.

      Like I said in the predecessor to this vote, I was considering voting for Romney for very peculiar reasons. And I would have voted for Obama if it was more if a contest in my state. My decision was whether to deploy a particular and ultimately meaningless tactic as a personal statement to nobody but myself, or to try to make something relatively good happen here. But if you did not read the predecessor I linked to, then probably none of what I am saying makes any sense.

    2. Of course it makes sense. From your daughters viewpoint you planned to vote for Romney, she changed your mind. She removed your critical thought and replaced it with hers, and her friends. Even if your took time to explained your earlier intent (I really like that article BTW) and it’s justification, I seriously doubt a 9 year old could grasp the concept, or even how fragile your conviction was. From her elementary point of view you gave up your motives to satisfy hers. Think from her perspective, not yours. You’re wanting to impress values, you have to think from to how they are perceiving the actions. BTW, You responded to them, not the other way around, that’s peer-pressure in the first order.

    3. You are reading too much into this, Justin. She did not read my earlier article. She knew I did not like Romney. She knew I sometimes criticized Obama. But I did not tell her whom I was voting for.

      Thank you for the praise on the earlier article.

  2. Several thoughts:

    1) I have no confidence that Romney, or most other Republicans, would do anything more than Obama about reducing the deficit. Our budget has three areas that dominate the rest: Social Security, healthcare, and defense. These three areas make up 68% of the budget. Any serious discussion needs to involve reform and/or cuts to all three of these. Most Republicans have consistently resisted any cuts to defense, despite the Pentagon requesting cuts (see M1-Abrams tank manufactured in Ohio) and despite maintaining a number of very expensive Cold War-era bases in Europe.

    2) Society needs and benefits from a healthy middle class, one with money to spend. All of those wealthy businessmen can’t create jobs if they don’t have any middle class customers. We need to stop having a knee-jerk reaction against tax policies that would take money from the wealthy to fund programs that benefit the middle class. For more, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBx2Y5HhplI

    3) I do find Dr. Dunn’s reasoning a bit convoluted on why he’d vote for Romney, but in the end, sanity prevailed. (That is, sanity on how to choose his vote; don’t misconstrue as an endorsement of Obama.) Perhaps we ought to view more of our activities through the lens of “how would I explain this to my kids” – if the answer is “with difficulty” then it’s time to simplify.

    For the record, I voted for Gary Johnson. Yeah, I’m one of those whackos.

    1. I think my reasoning would make better sense if you and I were a bit closer on point 1 (I agree that both parties are ineffective when it comes to real financial or budget reform) and if maybe you read more Marx.

  3. Dr. Dunn, would it be appropriate to NOT vote for Obama if the tax increase DID apply to your family? Sounds like class warfare to me. If you were really voting for your children then you made a poor choice. I voted for the candidate that would not leave my children in financial ruin (or at least will postpone it).

  4. You voted for Obama for your kids? as a way to tell them not to let anyone tell them how to vote? You say your daughter would not have understood why you voted for Mitt… but I dont think anyone understands what you are trying to say here.

    Wack-a-doodle is what you are.


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