The US is trying to come to terms with the fact that it has been taken over by a mediocre crime family, which is currently in the messy process of grafting an oligarchic rulership clan onto the organs of state.
While I applaud those who have campaigned to prevent this from happening, I must also say that I find some aspects of political activism in general quite disturbing.
For example, Senator Elizabeth Warren (with whom I would probably broadly agree on most issues), proclaimed how inspired she felt recently, when she saw a man at the Women’s Rally, carrying his little daughter on his shoulders:
…And she was holding this carefully hand-lettered sign, and it said: I fight like a girl….
This little girl was clearly of no age to be actively involved in such a horrid political fight as this. Children are certainly capable of figuring out what they think is right and wrong, and certainly capable of recognizing a creepy, disgusting or absurd adult when they see one, but they should not be roped into a political fight against such an adult. Even if the child doesn’t immediately experience it so, this is far too much of an emotional strain for a small child. Elizabeth Warren should not be celebrating such (ab)use of children for (her) political purposes.
There might be understandable reasons for taking a child to a political rally — no babysitter, or maybe as an educational experience, if you have good reason to think your child might find it interesting to see a crowd of people marching about holding sticks in the air. But it is unethical to use your child as a political prop for your political purposes.
Despite what Elizabeth Warren thinks, a small child is too young to have developed a reasoned position about how the country should be run. What’s more, it is impossible for a child to grasp how complicated politics is. Worse, a child will almost inevitably become emotionally attached to the idea of your side “winning”.
Emotion and political activism are in fact a poor mix. Infantile emotions and politics are an absolutely diabolical mix. (Yes, I know I’m passing up plenty of opportunities for a cheap shot). In other words, a mock election in school might be educational, but real political campaigning is for adults not children.)
Ahem…. Which brings me to my next, not wholly unrelated point….
It is unwise to give people of any age the impression that it is inherently good to be politically active. Roping your kids into your political life might make you feel like you’re doing something valuable for them, but apart from indoctrinating them into your political views, you are also conditioning them to start campaigning before they have properly examined the issues. This danger is of course, not merely limited to children.
There is a tendency to think that people should get more and more involved in government decisions. But the whole idea of democracy is that people delegate authority to others to run the state; so that people do not need to become politically active, and do not need to take to the streets for any other reason than to vote.
And let’s face it, there is not even any reason to think that voting is inherently good, and should be considered your civic duty. But if someone has not had the time or inclination to sufficiently research the issues, there is no point in them voting. If they don’t know what’s going on, they can’t know which candidate best represents their interests. It would be better if people felt it was their civic duty to decide whether or not they know enough to cast a sensible vote.
This whole problem in the US started because too many people who were completely clueless were encouraged to vote upon issues about which they knew next to nothing and had never seriously considered. And I don’t mean all voters were stupid, or that stupidity wasn’t happening on both sides. The winning side merely managed to mobilize more of them.
Last year it was impossible to see any election coverage without seeing some idiot standing before a huge touchscreen, blabbering about “what the polls are saying”. Well, one thing the polls never surveyed was how much the people understood about the issues they were being invited to pass judgment upon. Implicit in this utter stupidity from the media, is the idea that it is inherently good to vote, and it doesn’t matter whether or not you’ve got the faintest idea about what you are being asked to decide. It’s no wonder you wind up electing a candidate who is even less informed than the people who voted for him.
(And why on earth is the news media doing this anyway? It’s dumb enough to ask the public what their opinion is without first checking whether or not they’ve got a clue; but its even stupider to then record this information about what people think and then tell it back to them as “news”.)
Back to children again…. And some of this, to put it diplomatically, might just be relevant to adults as well….
The idea of democracy is not that your side is the right one and the others are wrong; nor that losing an election is a failure; nor that winning one makes the other side a loser. Motivating people to “get involved” usually involves engaging emotions to motivate people, but it’s a trap. It is infantile to engage the world on such terms.
When a child is old enough to become interested in politics, emphasize to them that politics is extremely complicated. Although there may be ethical principles to be held to unflinchingly, the “how to” side of things is far more complicated. Emphasize that people often have the same goal, but disagree about how to achieve it. It is stupid to instantly label such people as the enemy.
It is a sign of maturity to seek out the most articulate of such opponents, understand their views, and figure where your disagreement with them is.
Emphasize to a child that for political parties and politicians, the art of politics is often the art of compromising. It is impossible to get all policies through, so one may have to let go of some aspects in order to get others passed. Compromising in such circumstances does not mean you have lost.
Similarly, losing an election also does not mean you have failed, but rather that more voters wanted to try out a different idea to you. They may even have been right. We’ll be able to watch how it works out for them.
To “win” an election does not mean you have been proven right or better. Celebrate if you must, but don’t gloat. All it means is that you get the chance to find out whether or not your ideas are any good. Pay attention.
Being emotionally attached to the outcome is perhaps inevitable to some degree, but children should not be exposed to this form of stupidity. They can get that from sport, where it belongs.
Hooking a child into your political worldview before they are old enough to reason for themselves violates their freedom and exploits their vulnerabilities. Loyalty can be to family and friends etc, and later to certain principles, but should never be to a political group or ideology. If your child gets pushed into expressing political allegiances before they can think rationally about varying viewpoints, and before they have an inkling of the vastness of their own ignorance, it will be harder for them to change these stupid habits later in life. Maybe they will eventually figure out that reality is more complex than they were led to believe (by you). Maybe they will wind up unthinkingly dedicating themselves one of the many utterly bankrupt causes currently popular on the Left.
Perhaps the most useful distinction these days is no longer between left and right, but between sincere and insincere. An example of insincere political activism on the right would be racist trolling and fake news; on the left, concern trolling and fake outrage.
Above all, it is important for children to hear that people often change their minds; and that this is in fact a sign of maturity. Unfortunately these days, social media records every message anyone ever writes. I don’t know if there has been any research done on this, but it must be more difficult to admit an error of judgment, even to oneself, if one has already posted 1000 comments about it somewhere.
To use a child as a political prop, as Elizabeth Warren thinks is so wonderfully democratic, is simply to condition your child to take to the streets without having carefully considered the issues. In other words, it is to teach your child to behave like an idiot. Don’t do it. Not even if your favorite politician tells you your child is a hero. Does a little girl understand why she is proclaiming to a disgusting sex offender with nuclear weapons that she “fights like a girl”? Could she? Should she? It’s the same answer on every count. And the father would have gotten it right, if he had thought about it for a moment.
I can understand why he didn’t — perhaps caught up in the moment. But the fact Elizabeth Warren chose this as her “inspiring moment” to promote her campaign is a sign of a far greater problem.
Posted by Yakaru