At our house, we spend a lot of time at the dinner table talking about current events. With the world in the state that it's in, there is plenty to talk about — both good and bad. One topic that comes up frequently is the presidential election and its historical significance. While there is an inordinate amount of anger and vitriol this year — which the media is more than happy to inundate us with — the current election is a chance to talk to our kids about important issues not only involving our government, but the country as a whole.
We as parents can also take advantage of this time to teach our children about how our government is structured and how the three different branches play an important role in our lives. And finally, regardless of which candidate you support, there are good lessons to be learned about good behavior, especially for a person in a leadership position. While proper decorum and integrity should be a given for our elected officials, it seems to be sadly lacking in this election.
With these things in mind, here are some key points that merit some discussion with your family.
1. History Has Been Made
No woman has ever been President of this country, but Hillary Clinton made history by being the first woman to be nominated by either of the major parties (Democrat or Republican). If she is elected, she would become the first woman to be President of the United States. On the international front, however, many industrialized countries have women leaders, including including Germany (Angela Merkel), Denmark (Helle Thorning-Schmidt, 2011-2015), South Korea (Park Geun-hye), and Switzerland (Simonetta Sommaruga). To learn more, check out the Center for Women in American Politics (CAWP).
Immigration is a hot topic in this election, and each candidate have made it an important part of their campaign, while taking fairly opposing stands. Wherever you may stand on the issue, this election will have significant domestic and global implications in regards to immigration. It is also imperative to remind ourselves that immigration has played a role in the creation, development, and prosperity of this country. To learn more, spend some time on the website for the American Immigration Council.
3. Fiscal Responsibility
Monetary responsibility is something everyone should discuss with their children, though the government is not necessarily a good role model. The national debt, which is the amount of money the U.S. government owes, is often a major election issue. Currently the national debt stands at about 19 trillion dollars (and counting).
4. Honesty and Trust
Honesty and trust go hand in hand, and lack of both seems to be especially prominent this year. Kids should understand that trust and integrity are important qualities for any person, but especially for a world leader. They dictate how people view you and influence your interactions with their peers.
5. The Structure of the Federal Government
One of the key civics lessons that they teach kids in school is how our government is divided into three separate branches: the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial. Who wins the Presidency (Executive) will have a significant influence over Senate and Congressional seats (Legislative), as well as Supreme Court nominees (Judicial). Now is a good time to discuss how the three branches interact with each other and maintain an overall balance of power.
The United States is a major international player and in many instances, a global leader. This fact has become a topic of discussion in the current election and whomever is elected will have profound implications in what role the U.S. will play in the world.
7. The History of Racism and Sexism
Unfortunately, the current election has been marred by numerous allegations regarding the treatment of women and minorities. It is challenging to sift through all of the information and get a clear picture of what exactly is going on, but it is still a good time to talk to your children about how you, as a parent, think women and minorities should be viewed and treated.