816 North Opinion

Susan Vollenweider: It’s not about politics

I am grateful for a lot of things. The list is long but includes:

My health and that of my family.

My home, food on the table, and friends to share them with.

The memories of my own pretty terrific childhood and the part I had in creating my children’s.

I’m grateful for my education, my freedoms and, if I’m being honest, my curly hair and ability to look several years younger than I am.

But there’s something I am extremely grateful for right now: I am not a political commentator.

I don’t have to pick apart candidates’ platforms, study the polls, figure the odds, dissect the speeches and read every single Tweet. I get to develop my political opinions at my own pace and I get to pick and choose who I share them with.

I don’t have to publically defend being right. I don’t have to stick my neck out for opposition to give a whack and prove me wrong. I do not have the stomach, brand of intelligence or math ability for the job.

Simply put: I could not be a political commentator

“Drat,” she says sarcastically, “what a shame.”

However, I find myself in a bit of sticky wicket this year and feel like I need to share my opinions earlier, faster and with more conviction and pressure than ever before. This election season is like no other in my lifetime. Never have the choices been more opposite; never has the vitriol been this emotionally charged.

But the thing that makes this year like no other in my lifetime, past or future? I have two kids who will be voting in their very first presidential election.

Their first! This first will always be remembered by them, my role in it part of that memory. The pressure of that is packing far more questions than answers.

They are legally adults, so do I silently let them come to their own opinions or do I offer unsolicited suggestions and steer them to accurate sources or make them see things from the other side? Do I share my own selection thought process and if so, how much?

In any other presidential election I’ve lived through I’ve had my preferred candidate but never before felt that the other choice is so horribly wrong for this country. How much of that should I share with them before they go to our polling place?

I love voting and that right is high on my gratitude list. If asked, I’ll be happy to tell anyone about some women who worked really hard for a very long time and faced some dangerous opposition so that I have this right.

Have they heard enough about those women? The history of our election process? Do they know enough about government to choose intelligently?

Do they know the issues that are facing our entire country, not just the ones that affect them?

Even though they are legally adults they are still watching their parents for guidance in new situations.

What are they seeing when they watch their father and mother, who have very different political views, get into unprecedented heated discussions about politics? Is that going to make them feel like they need to pick sides based on anything but a close examination of their own views, or is it going to show them how to stand up for themselves?

For me, this year is not only about politics and the future of our country -- it’s about parenting.

It’s not only about politics, it’s about being a role model.

It’s not about politics, it’s about our kids’ future.

“No pressure there,” she says sarcastically. 

Susan Vollenweider lives in Smithville. To listen to the women’s history podcast that she co-hosts or to read more of her writing visit www.thehistorychicks.com and www.susanvollenweider.com.