Parents worry incessantly about our children’s future. We want them to eat well so they can grow into strong, healthy adults. We implore them to excel in school so that they can go to college and find a career that will leave them financially stable. We provide emotional support so that they can can live long, happy lives well after they’ve left our homes. The vast majority of parents are bending over backwards to ensure that our children’s future is better than our own.
This is why I’m often aghast when friends express disinterest in voting or ignorance concerning public policy. They roll their eyes and dismiss politics as something trivial that is not worth their time. Now granted, there is currently a terrifying reality show of incompetence and petty in-fighting going on in the White House, and of course politicians have a reputation for grandstanding and self-serving activities, but politics, especially at the local level, couldn’t be more integral and meaningful to our children’s lives and futures.
Parenting is political and the choices we make now will have repercussions that will resonate for a lifetime. My children are close to a decade away from voting, so I have the solemn responsibility to inform myself and vote for candidates and issues with their best interest in mind. Choosing not to vote or voting for candidates and policies that benefit me now, but do not invest in the future would be selling out my kids.
Our planet is in crisis. Each scientific report brings more devastating news about the fragility of our planet and dwindling time we have left to reverse course. We have less than a decade to make policy changes that will stave off mass environmental devastation. Any candidate who prioritizes profit over the health of the planet or ignorantly denies overwhelming science is a person who actively puts our children in peril.
After seeing the bills pile up after Mateo’s broken wrist, even with my generous employer healthcare, I could never vote for any politician who wants to strip health care coverage from millions of Americans. Healthcare is a right, not a privilege, and I will vote for leaders who will fight for ALL citizens to have access to affordable care. When my kids are adults, I do not want them to go into debt over medical bills or worry about supporting me because Medicare funds were decimated in order to give corporations and ultra-wealthy people tax breaks.
As an educator who has faced the stress of school loans and wants to alleviate the financial burden of higher education for future generations, I support candidates who prioritize ALL levels of education. Quality preschool, public schools, and higher education are critical to our changing economy and our children’s financial stability. When I go into the voting booth, I am more than willing to pay more taxes to invest in public education for Every. Single. Child.
In addition to having access to quality education, my children deserve to be safe while they are at school. Common sense gun laws could go a long way to ensure their safety at school and everywhere else. Our children deserve to have adults in their lives that value their safety above all else and who will champion legislation that can put us on a path to reducing gun violence.
The environment, healthcare, safety, and education are my priorities, but I cannot ignore my moral compass. I do my best to instill values like kindness, empathy, honesty, and integrity in my children. Our family believes that the common good is more important than individual wealth and that our communities are the strongest when they are diverse and open. We reject bigotry in all forms and therefore reject any politician who encourages or excuses racism, sexism, xenophobia, or discrimination of any kind.
I cannot see how any policy, Supreme Court nomination, or tax break is worth sacrificing my moral compass. Our children learn by watching us. They take their cues from the adults in their lives, yes even political leadership.
My vote must represent my morality, so I’m looking for leaders who will stand up to bullies, not behind them. I want representatives who will make decisions with my children’s best interests in mind, not those of a special interest group like the NRA. I will cast my ballot for politicians who believe in science, want to invest in public education, and will show my children that the world still has good people who prioritize humanity over scoring political points by inciting division through fear.
Honesty is always the best policy in our house and we expect that same honesty from our government leaders. When the President of the United States lies an average of 10 times a day, supporting him or those who stand by and say nothing is an assault on the integrity of both our national and household values. We are destroying faith in our democracy and lowering the bar for all of our future leaders.
Lucia and I spent part of our Sunday afternoon canvassing to get out the vote in Massillon. She and I talked along the way about why it was important to participate in our democracy. We also discussed why so many folks feel disenfranchised. She smiled and handed information to each potential voter as we knocked on door after door. She beamed with every affirmation of plans to vote for candidates that we believe will stand up to bigotry, divisiveness, and dishonesty. We need representatives who actually represent their constituencies and who care not just about their immediate political livelihoods, but about how their decisions will impact generations long after they’ve left public life.
The political noise can be deafening, especially in our country where leaders have sought to sow division instead of build consensus. The political ads, constant demonization of “the other side” and spread of misinformation has made it difficult to have productive and thoughtful discussions about policies that matter. The temptation to ignore it all and focus on our individual families and lives is one that we must fight. Politics, policy, and morality matter. Tuning out the turmoil doesn’t erase it and the consequences of not acting are grave. We owe it to our children to participate in our democracy as informed citizens and thoughtful parents-their lives truly do depend on it.