A week before the election, we were driving home from dinner, and my daughter was relaying stories from the playground, couching each character in the story as either a Democrat or a Republican. Politics had nothing to do with the stories.
"Anita, she's a Republican, was poking this spider on the playground with a stick and then Justin, he's a Democrat, came up to her and said that spiders bite."
And that's life in the Washington suburbs, where children are politically-minded even when it isn't an election season. It's sort of the business of our town: government. Our kids know where each candidate stands on various issues, from economics to women's health. And while they may not know it, I think all four of us are voting for Barack Obama for the same reason: because when we elect a president, we are looking at that person through the lens of an uncertain future. We want someone who is not only going to lead our family today, but lead the family we may be a year from now, two years from now, and so on.
I am voting for Barack Obama because I don't know who my children will become or what their futures hold. My children may come out to me in the future and if so, I want them to have every opportunity afforded to heterosexual couples. My children may become ill in the future, and if so, I want them to have access to medical care without having treatment denied due to insurance caps or claims of pre-existing conditions. My children will probably want to attend college in the future, and when they do, I want it to be financially feasible.
I vote this way not only for my children and their choose-your-own adventure future, but for all the very real Americans living out these imaginary realities in the here and now. Because those people are somebody else's child, and their parents simply want their children to be able to thrive in this country as well. Giving more people access to rights, health care, or social programs does not take away from others. It just expands the group of people who are able to actually live that American dream of peace, freedom, and prosperity.
I'm glad my kids are educated on the issues and that they're voting (okay, so coming with me to the polls and checking off a box on their Weekly Reader) with their hearts. That is important to me as a parent. And I urge everyone before Election Day to not depend on what they've learned from attack ads or lawn signs, but to go online, get educated, and vote with your heart and an eye to the future.
Melissa Ford is the author of the award-winning website, Stirrup Queens, as well as two books: Life from Scratch (BellBridge, 2010), a novel about a blogger finding her voice after a divorce, and Navigating the Land of If (Seal Press, 2009), a guide to infertility and pregnancy loss. Stirrup Queens was recognized by the Wall Street Journal as one of the top ten motherhood blogs. Melissa is also an editor at BlogHer, and completed her MFA at the University of Massachusetts. Ford lives in Washington, D.C. with her writer husband, Joshua, and their twins. You can find her on Facebook.