Monday, November 05, 2012

Election Party

I have a hunch that tomorrow after the kids are in bed and Andrew's home from class we'll be having an election party. I don't know how I got so wound up in politics. I remember watching the results for one Canadian election. And I think I remember my parents going out to vote once. My family's simply not that political—my parents have opinions, I know, but we never really talked politics at my house growing up.

Andrew's getting a PhD in Public Policy. We talk politics all the time. We snuggled up together to watch the presidential debates. I did a lot of yawning and eyeball rolling. Andrew, though, was riveted.

Rachel doesn't have school tomorrow. All the public schools in Durham county are closed for election day. I'm not exactly sure why but as far as my friends and I figured at book club it was because some elementary schools are polling locations and since they're super strict about visitors at schools here (you have to have a photograph taken every time you come to the school to do anything) we guessed they didn't want hordes of strange adults wandering around elementary school campuses while the children were in school. It was easier to tack an extra day on at the end of the year than it would be to patrol everyone coming to vote.

We only figured that because having a day off from school certainly doesn't make it easier for parents to vote...

So, the girls and I had an election party tonight. We stayed up late playing games and eating cookies while Benjamin hung out with his turtle, a fork, and a burp cloth.

First we played rhyming dominoes.

Then we played a quick election game that I made up on the spot. I found a colouring page online that I put at the top of the page—it had a line drawing of both President Obama and Mitt Romney—then I made a little 9x3 chart underneath each candidate. We decided which candidate would be odd and which would be even and then rolled the dice and marked off the chart accordingly, counting by tens to 270 (which is the number of electoral votes needed to win the election).

In case you were wondering how we lean politically, this is Rachel's face when Mitt Romney won our little "election:"

She almost started crying so I printed out another copy and we played again, but this time we played the speed version of the game (rolling three die at one time) because it was getting far too late for everyone. Rachel would chant "Please let it be odd, please lt it be odd!" and blow on her dice before tossing them but Mitt Romney ended up winning that election, too, so we discussed the beauty of democracy, of checks and balances, of supporting our leaders, and so forth. We also discussed that voting isn't just rolling a die but actually takes thought and research. 

Rachel said she thinks President Obama should get to be president again because he's done it before and knows what it's like to have that job. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, "just has no idea." Miriam was most interested in getting to colour the picture at the top of the page.

When Andrew came home and saw the evidence of our party he was a little aghast at my bad game model because, statistically speaking, the candidates don't each have a 50% chance of winning. There are other candidates to consider, who would take some of the "rolls" away from President Obama or Mitt Romney and the current statistics are showing that Mitt Romney has somewhere between a 15 and 30% chance of winning the election, so only one or two numbers on each die should have counted toward his winning the election, not four. 

And I said, "Whatever—they're five and three. We learned that 1, 3, and 5 are odd numbers while 2, 4, and 6 are even numbers, we learned that a candidate needs 270 electoral college votes to win the election, we learned to associate red with the Republican party and blue with the Democratic party, we talked about the importance of voting and we had fun doing it. Who cares about statistics?"

Then I shoved a cookie in his mouth.

It was fun to hear the girls asking for their turn to vote—I'm glad that they're excited to vote and hope that they'll exercise that right in the future because there are many people in the world who do not have that privilege. 

It was less fun to monitor their turns as they filled in the chart. Miriam was committing voter fraud all over the place, colouring in more than one square on her turns (we kept track, though, and just didn't fill in squares for later rolls depending on how many extra squares she coloured (and she eventually figured that that "Okay, colour in one square" meant that she should colour in one square)). Rachel suggested that we just fill in the squares for the candidate we wanted to win instead of letting the dice decide. 

I told them that it was important to count every vote because "it's not the voting that's democracy; it's the counting."*

* From Tom Stoppard's, Jumpers. Disclaimer: I've never read this play but it certainly is a catchy quote, isn't it?


  1. It is actually pretty funny to me that you see me as being "not very political." Because I was just like Andrew once upon a time. I followed both US and Canadian politics avidly. I watched President Kennedy's funeral, after having watched all the news about his assassination; I was very much aware of Johnson's inauguration. I was -- not yet six years old. I watched the liberal party caucus meeting at which Trudeau won the leadership of the party in 1968. I was 10 years old...and very disappointed at the outcome because I was not a Trudeau supporter. I discussed US and Canadian politics All. The. Time. With my family, on the bus on the way to school. In the school library before school. I wanted to be either the Prime Minister of Canada or the President of the United States. Seriously. I ALMOST decided to run for office at age 17, and actually had some supporters among my dad's friends. Somewhere along the line...something happened. Maybe it was reading "Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Parliament" and seeing how achingly difficult it is to change anything. I know that part of it has been the way the media turns everything into a circus, and the way "the truth" (whatever that is) gets so distorted, and the invasion of privacy...I am not sure. But somehow I have wound up as this person who is seen as "not very political" and who just wants this election year to be over. Please. Yesterday.

    1. That is pretty funny because I don't think I ever would have guessed that about you. Aside from how passionate you can get about health care and a few other things, I've never heard you endorse any political candidate on either side of the border. :)

      You should watch The West Wing—it kind of does the same thing for me (shows me how blasted difficult it is to make any sort of change at all) but it is so fascinating; I think you'd enjoy it. I think I've learned more from watching that show than all my years of social studies. Of course, I only had one year of social studies in the I suppose that could be one reason the show is so educational...