During the year leading up to the 2008 election, one of my daughters was in a “History” class where often, a good portion of the class period was spent talking about politics. The teacher even gave the class a test to see where these 8th graders naturally lean politically. Surprisingly all but 3 of the students were naturally democrats. (Oh, my property tax dollars hard at work for me to educate my children!)
But that is not what bothered me. One night as we were having dinner, this daughter shared how while in one of their classroom discussions, a student raised her hand and asked, “What even is the difference between a Democrat and a Republican?” Other students chimed in to reinforce their similar confusion. I’m sure the teacher, recognizing the power of this teaching moment, replied, (Even now I can’t believe the response he gave.) “Democrats believe that people are naturally good, while Republicans believe people are naturally bad. is how”
“What!?” I tried to reply more calmly than I was feeling. I was truly baffled. I try to follow politics and be knowledgeable, but nothing I had ever learned helped me to understand his response. But to save me from the moment of trying to understand what he might have meant by that, one of my other daughters asked, “Dad, what is the difference between a Republican and Democrat?”
I took a deep breath. Perhaps unlike my daughter’s teacher, I wanted to be fair. Although I generally vote Republican, I don’t want my kids to blindly be that way just because I am. I also believe that almost all Democrats are generally good people, although sometimes misinformed or misled; just like I believe almost all Republicans are generally good people, although sometimes misinformed or mislead. I believe that if there is a part of society that are “not very good people”, they are the ones who generally don’t care to vote at all. I believe almost all people in politics (including our President) mean well and honestly think their way of doing things is what is best for the people of our country.
But back to the question my daughter asked. Since the question of parties has mostly to do with government, I decided to answer with the focus on that. I also decided to make the response one that a person from each party might agree with. I said, “I think Democrats believe that the role of government is to help make people’s lives better. (Is that a response you think most Democrats could live with?) Then I said, “Republicans believe similarly except Republicans believe that people’s lives are better when government plays a very small role in their lives.” We went on to discuss how Republicans believe that less government control and regulations and fewer taxes help good people live better lives. I then told them how well meaning Democrats believe that through legislation, they could make people’s lives better, (government programs, motorcycle helmet laws, etc, they could keep people and society from more problems, and live happier lives.
Then we talked about what is a good philosophy between what is too much government and not enough government. (Maybe that will be a future blog post).
So what is my point with this whole story? I wanted to throw out some questions and know what you think. Leave a comment on Facebook or comment on the post
- How would you have responded to my daughter’s question (the difference between Republicans and Democrats)?
- What do you believe the proper purpose of government is?
- How do you feel about your kids being taught things in school that you might not agree with?