And now for something completely different...
Recently, there have been discussions on the Well-Trained Mind message boards about the upcoming U.S. Presidential elections. I'd like to add my two cents.
To get started, you might use these links:
The Democracy Project.
Also from PBS...
And from C-Span.
Before this Thursday's debate, we (A and I) will be learning about the elements of debate. Here's a link for Debate Central. Their information can be modified for school-aged kids.
I know this is really hard, but try not to interfere with your child's thought processes (no deliberate prodding, no negating) while he/she explores the answers to questions about the Presidential debate and elections.
What issues are important to your child? Why? Are there pros and cons to the views that each candidate espouses? Why? What about how they convey their views? What sort of speech is acceptable?
My favorite: What is a flip-flop? Has only one candidate "flip-flopped" or do you find elements of changing a view/changing goalposts in both candidates?
I find it useful to refer to newspapers and other periodicals to follow what the candidates are saying.
I recently showed this clipping to A, from the September 25, 2004 NY Times:
In Their Own Words
Remarks yesterday in Janesville, Wis.
"I met with the prime minister of Iraq yesterday. He's willing to do the hard work, too. He came to our country - he came to our country to thank the American people. He came to our country to thank the moms and dads and husbands and wives of those who have sacrificed for his freedom and America's security. That's what he came to do. He gave a strong speech. He's a strong man. The fellow - he woke up one night in London, England - he'd been in exile. And there was two people by his bed with axes sent by Saddam Hussein - seriously - to chop him up. And he survived. And now he's the prime minister of that country. He is going to lead this country. No matter how hard it gets, he will lead this country to a better day. He believes in the people of Iraq.
He spoke to the Congress. He gave a great speech to the Congress. He talked about his strategy of defeating the insurgents, of holding the elections in January. This country is going to have elections in January. Afghanistan is going to have them in October, and they'll be held in January.
And my opponent chose to criticize the prime minister of Iraq. This great man came to our country to talk about how he's risking his life for a free Iraq, which helps America, and Senator Kerry held a press conference and questioned Prime Minister Allawi's credibility.
You can't lead this country if your ally in Iraq feels like you question his credibility."
Senator John Kerry
Remarks yesterday at Temple University in Philadelphia:
"Let me be as blunt and direct with the American people as I can be. Let me tell you the truth, which is what America deserves.
The invasion of Iraq was a profound diversion from the battle against our greatest enemy, Al Qaeda, which killed more than 3,000 people on 9/11 and which still plots our destruction today. And there's just no question about it; the president's misjudgment, miscalculation and mismanagement of the war in Iraq all make the war on terror harder to win.
Iraq is now what it was not before the war: a haven for terrorists. George Bush made Saddam Hussein the priority. I would have made Osama bin Laden the priority.
As president, I pledge to you, America, I will finish the job in Iraq. And I will refocus our energies on the real war on terror. I will wage this war relentlessly, with a single-minded determination to capture or kill the terrorists, crush their movements and free the world from fear.
But to destroy our enemy, we have to know our enemy. We have to understand - we have to understand that we are facing a radical fundamentalist movement with global reach and a very specific plan.
They are not just out to kill us for the sake of killing us, they want to provoke a conflict that will radicalize the people of the Muslim world, turning them against the United States and the West. And they hope to transform that anger into a force that will topple the region's governments and pave the way for a new empire, and oppressive, fundamentalist superstate stretching across a vast area from Europe to Africa, from the Middle East to Central Asia. That's their goal.
And the American people have the right to hear the answer to a fundamental question: How are we going to win this war?"
*Me and a special friend in Switzerland, about to launch one of many balloons bearing a gift card for the wedding couple. The bride later reported cards returned from neighboring countries. Our votes, like balloons, can wind up in territories we least suspect. Launch carefully.