The Five Year Old Vote


Athena and I just got home from me picking her up from school when the phone rang; Athena picked it up and then handed to me with a puzzled look on her face. It was a recorded political message. I didn’t bother to hear who it was from; I just hung it up. Athena wanted to know what it was about.

“There’s an election this year, and people want to tell me how to vote,” I said.

“Oh,” Athena said. “You know, I want Kerry to win.”

“Oh, really?” I said. “And why is that?”

“Because he has a ‘c’ in his name, and so do I,” Athena said. (she’s referring to the “c” in her last name, incidentally).

“Well, okay,” I said. “But you know, Kerry spells his name with a ‘k,’ not a ‘c.'”

Athena looked stunned for a minute and then thought furiously. “Well, there’s no ‘b’ in my name, so I don’t care,” she said. “I still want Kerry to win.” Clearly the pledges of allegiance go to the closest phonemic candidate.

This is a cute exchange no matter what, but here’s the thing: Neither Krissy or I talk politics to Athena or around Athena, and I know she doesn’t know how I’m going to vote because I haven’t told her (I just checked to make sure she didn’t know). So I asked her how she knew who was running for president.

“I read it in the newspaper,” she said.

Athena Scalzi in ’36, ladies and gentlemen. Get on the bandwagon now, while there’s still time.


Clearly, I’m not a George Bush fan, and I’ll be voting against him come November 2. But I’ve been asked — and not unreasonably so — just how bad would another four years of Bush be for me? The answer: Honestly? Not bad at all.

Why? Well, simply put: On paper, at least, I (and my family) are exactly the sort of people the Bushies assume everyone is (or should be): White, married, educated, well-off property owners with adequate health insurance and no reason to rely on the government for any direct need. Almost none of their policies impact this demographic in a negative way — or if they do, it’s so negligible as not to matter in a practical sense.

White, married, educated, well-off, insured property owners (henceforth abbreviated to WMEWIPOs — pronounceed “wimmie-wipos”) don’t need to worry about the tax cuts; they skew to us anyway, and when the bill comes due, as they will in my daughter’s generation if not sooner, we’ll be insulated by our investments. WMEWIPOs don’t need to worry about underfunding of schools because we can afford to educate our kids on our own dime if we need to. WMEWIPOs don’t worry about Roe v. Wade being overturned, because if it comes to that, we can easily make a trip to Massachusetts, California or Canada. WMEWIPOs don’t worry about military shortages because none of our kids are in the military, and even if there’s a draft we can usually manage to keep our kids out of harm’s way. WMEWIPOs don’t have to worry about same-sex marriages or civil unions, because we’ve already got the rights others are hoping to get.

Why do I suspect another 4 years of Dubya will leave me mostly unscathed? Well, among other things, the first four years of Dubya left me mostly unscathed. The most I’ve been personally inconvenienced by the policies of George W. Bush was the time an officious TSA schmuck wouldn’t let us carry a collapsed beach umbrella onto a plane as a carry-on because it was sealed in plastic. So I took it back to the car at the airport and we bought another umbrella at the beach. That’s it.

Now, this is not to say that I can’t tell you of people, even within my own extended family, who have been negatively affected by Dubya’s policies; I certainly can, and it’s certain they will be additionally negatively affected. But they’re not me, or members of my immediate family (i.e., Krissy, Athena and the pets). We’re fine. And barring a sudden, random change in fortunes, we will continue to be fine through 2008.

So, no, having another four years of Dubya in office won’t be the end of my world; indeed, given Dubya’s executive inclinations, it’s likely another four years would benefit me. Why deny it? However, and this is an important thing, one of the things about being a grownup is looking beyond one’s personal and immediate benefits (or lack of negatives). I tend to look at the overall health of the nation when I vote for president, and I think in both the long and short term, we’d be better without another four years of Bush. Yes, Bush isn’t bad for me. But I think a president should do more than look out for me, or people who, on paper at least, are just like me and mine. Not every American is a Wimmie-wipo. All Americans, however, deserve to be served by their president.