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Candle in the Night

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Thank You, We Have Had Enough of Your Change: Part 1

I clearly remember each election I have voted in.  Now, I confess, there have only been two.  The first was 2004.  I was in my early days of college still attending community college.  Ironically, I chose to take political science that semester.  It made everything very interesting.  My teacher was admittedly a democrat.  But, he was fair to both sides and actually was the sponsor of the young republicans on campus.  He said he'd be the sponsor for the young democrats, but they never could get organized enough.  He even stated that he believed that was the problem with democrats in general, their lack of organization.  There were people in the class from both sides of the political spectrum, but the one I remember most was a loud mouthed young democrat.  He attempted to organize a young democrats group on campus, but disassociated himself from them when another member tried to hit one of the young republican members with his car in the parking lot.  He said he didn't believe in violence and didn't want to be a part of that group.


He always had plenty to say though.  He was never at a loss for words.  He had all kinds of hateful remarks about our president and would share them openly in class.  Few would try to argue with him.  Mostly because he was just spouting off for the most part and annoyed us all -- republicans and democrats, right wingers and left wingers.  His comments had little to do with the politics of the president.  They were more along the lines of "He just doesn't know anything!" or "Why doesn't someone teach this guy how to talk right?"  There were other democrats in the class who also had plenty to say about our president.  They were rarely respectful in any way and were often downright crude with their statements.  Much of this went on before the teacher arrived, but even when he was there, although the comments were quieter, they were still present.


On several occasions, I thought of speaking up.  I sat in the back of this particular class with several other republicans around me.  We would roll our eyes and sigh and not say a word.  Every once in a while, someone would say something, but not very often.  When the election was won by Bush, this young man came in depressed and quieter than I'd seen him in a while.  After that first day though, he was back to his usual self and we all knew it'd just be another four years of him insulting the president for things that had nothing to do with politics.


Fast forward four years and you find a much more grown up Jessica.  I no longer considered myself a republican, but a conservative.  Unfortunately, there was not a conservative candidate who made it through the primaries, so we were voting for the lesser of two evils.  I was no longer in school, but teaching school.  I taught fifth grade.  We discussed a lot about politics, the election, the roll of the president, and the differences between the two parties.  I didn't feel it was my place to let the students know who I was voting for, but instead, to inform them of what each party stood for.  They had, of course, heard a lot from their parents which is how I really believe it should be.  Unfortunately, sometimes myths that parents share with their child must be dispelled by the other adults in that child's life.


In one discussion, a student piped up and said that the people not voting for Obama were racist.  I tried to remain calm (although it was difficult) and tell him that was very far from the truth.  Some people might not vote for him because they were racist, but some might also not vote for McCain because they were racist.


In another discussion about the differences between parties, one of my quieter girls raised her hand and said that democrats believed abortion was okay.  I told her that not all democrats believe that, but many do.  Then, the question came that I had hoped wouldn't.  "Mrs. H, what is abortion?"  I have such strong views on abortion, I knew I could say some things that would get me thrown out of the school and my teaching license revoked.  I thought about it a minute and said, "Well, abortion is when a woman gets pregnant and decides she doesn't want to or can't be pregnant anymore.  She goes to the doctor and they end the pregnancy."  I didn't use the word baby.  I didn't use the word kill.  Or murder.  It was the most politically correct statement I could think of.  The outburst that followed was anything BUT politically correct.  These children knew immediately what abortion was.  "WHAT???"  "THEY KILL THE BABY???"  "THAT'S AWFUL!!!"  "WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THAT???"  I knew at that point, the discussion was beyond what I could or should handle in class. I quieted everyone down and said, "If you have any more questions, you need to talk to your parents about it."  I didn't hear anything more except that two girls came to me a few days before the students got to participate in their election and said "My parents are voting for Obama, and I was going to, but I won't because he believes abortion is okay and I don't."  I prayed that I had changed their lives forever.


I worked on a team with five teachers.  Three of us were conservative, two were liberal.  Now don't get me wrong, I loved (and still love) all of those ladies.  They were wonderful to work with and are great friends, even now that I'm not teaching.  But the time leading up to the election did get a little trying.  I'm going to share some of this trusting that my two liberal friends already know that I, and the other two conservatives, got annoyed by what went on.  We shared lunch together daily and often got to hear the praises of Obama sung.  I think these ladies would openly admit they were in love with him!  It amazed and appalled me that people could adore a man so much.  But what bothered me most was how they had no problem letting their students know.  I really, truly believed in giving the students an honest view of the political system and letting them see both sides clearly.  I did not feel that letting them know who I was voting for would aid in this teaching.  At one point, I took a poll to see who the students thought I was voting for and it was about split down the middle.


The day that Obama won the election was a hard one for me.  I listened to Chris Stigall on the radio that morning and he was very encouraging.  He talked about moving on from there and working toward next time. My friends at school were also kind and tried not to rub it in.  


To be continued...

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