Explaining the Circus

Like all of you, I’m completely stressed about this election. November 9th can’t come soon enough. I’ve been having dreams (nightmares?) about the two candidates as though they are people I actually know. Sad.


Fortunately, my kid is 7, and at an age where I can make this into a learning experience for him. He doesn’t have school on Election Day, so he’s getting “homeschooled” by Daddy and getting a whopping lesson on politics.

I’m sure he’ll be thrilled.

Unfortunately, this campaign has been rated “R” for the most part, and I have to do tremendous amounts of editing to explain the nonsense.

I started the conversation with questions, to find out what he knows. He thought George Washington is our current President and Abraham Lincoln is running for office. If only.

I explained that they are historical Presidents and then popped out a $1 and $5 bill to show him their portraits. He had never noticed them on the money and was awestruck. “Is our President on any money?” He asked, referring to Obama. “No, son, not yet – but maybe one day he will be,” I replied.

We discussed how every four years we get a chance for a new President, but some Presidents serve two terms. It confused him a little, but he grasped the concept. “Why can’t our President keep being President?” he asked. “Because a President can only be in office for a maximum of 8 years, but Daddy wishes he could stay longer.” I said.

Democrats vs. Republicans was a tricky topic. I’ll admit I’m a Democrat, so naturally my explanation was biased. Ultimately I told him that Democrats want to share more and Republicans want to keep things all to themselves. “Like a stubborn kid!” he exclaimed. “YES, Republicans are very much like stubborn kids,” I told him.

Somewhere in the conversation, he mentally inserted the word war and was under the impression that Democrats fight Republicans in some massive battle. “No, sweetheart, there’s no real fighting – just words and voting,” I explained. “And guess what? You’re off school on Election Day so you can come with me and watch me vote!”

His eyes got huge with excitement. I knew I had to sell him on the idea hard because most likely he’ll be bored out of his mind that day.

I went on to tell him that this year, there’s a Republican giant orange mean male, running against the Democratic sweet grandma. “The man starred on a semi-successful reality show for a few years and the lady has been in politics for 30 years,” I said. He looked perplexed. “Can ANYONE run for President?” he asked. “Apparently so,” I replied. “Apparently so.”

I wanted to explain the Electoral College in the simplest way possible, so I just broke it down by the states. It was a doozy:

“Everyone votes for who they want on Election Day,” I started. “Then each of the 50 states add up the votes and special people get to decide who the winner is for that state. The most populated states get the most votes. Whoever wins the most votes when they add up all 50 states is the winner.” (Did I do okay?)

His brain was clearly overwhelmed. I could practically see his mental gears turning until he produced “Who are the special people?”

Sh*t. He had me stumped. I don’t know who the Electoral College is comprised of. I don’t even know how they earn their positions.

“I don’t know,” I replied, “but it doesn’t really matter who they are, what matters is they decide the next President!”

“On Election Day, we’ll go vote together, then come home and watch all the 50 states on the news. One by one, they will either be red for Republican or blue for Democratic. At the end of the night, we should know the winner!” I told him.

He seemed relatively excited, although I know he won’t sit still for more than 5 minutes that day.

“Who would you vote for if you could, buddy?” I asked. “The lady! Because she sounds nice and like she wants to help people.” He said.

“That’s a good choice, son. And hopefully she’ll keep her promises and do exactly that,” I replied.

“In fact, if she does win, I’ll take you out for ice cream the next day because I’ll be so happy,” I said.

“YAY!! But what happens if she doesn’t win?” He asked.

“She will,” I reassured him. “She most certainly will.”

Posted by Frank Lowe


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