One of my kids recently said: “I never really cared much about politics before, Dad, but I think I better start. Life’s not easy and the country’s a mess. I think Barack Obama’s policies are scary, quite honestly, and I’m gonna register to vote for the first time.”
My daughter is 32-years-old. She’s an adult who rarely heeds my advice. Who am I to tell her how to run her life anyway. She’s had to experience life’s trials and educate herself in societal participation. From the statements she’s made one could conclude she’s been a “Political Kindergartner” and quite satisfied with it until now.
Studies have shown an individual’s identity is forged by the third grade. I surmise attitudes and behavior are chiseled into the minds of children as early as kindergarten or preschool. The environment they’re raised in, the parents they have, teachers, and a host of other mitigating circumstances forge the destiny of boys and girls early on.
It’s a safe bet to say some of us never really graduated from kindergarten at all. There are those like my daughter who never felt it was necessary to engage in the political process and they’re fine with whatever direction a politician may steer the country. It’s a standard of indifference they’re all-too-eager to wave. They’ve nodded off, bored, and are more interested in taking a mid-day nap.
On the other hand, there are those who are also grouped in the classification of “Political Kindergartners” who are wide-eyed, easily persuaded, and close minded to any alternatives other than the ones they’re constantly a suitor to. You might say their mind is like a sponge, absorbing everything propelled their way and they never question the validity of anything or the motivation behind a given premise.
Then there are those who make up the “Why” syndrome class. Those who fall in that category usually question everything. They don’t blend in with the inept. The fact of the matter may be at the bottom of the sand box, but discovering the truth about a given thing is well worth the effort to them in the end.
However, there are those, especially in politics, who have a clandestine agenda, an end game, they secretively set out to accomplish. Certain politicians believe the young are impressionable, and most are. They view that voting bloc as trophies for a movement. The polished speech and slick talk of some politicians have a tendency to persuade and even move many voters. A few commentators have labeled that type of political kindergartner as “Low Information.”
Then again, there are some politicians who could also be considered “Political Kindergartners.” They could be defined as a neighborhood bully, a close minded prude who when they don’t get their way cross their arms and pout, a whiner who’s never satisfied and always thrusts the finger of blame in someone else’s chest, or the noxious type who makes outrageous and inflammatory statements to gain attention in the sphere of public opinion. The list of anecdotes to describe the childish behavior of today’s congressional leaders is no doubt inexhaustible. If you’d like to entertain yourself, think back to your days in elementary school and reminisce about the behavior of classmates. Put a face upon the antics emanating from America’s capital.
In the end, if you’ve been lucky enough to see some of those elementary youngsters grow up you’ll find that some of their personalities never really changed at all. A few kids had a chip on their shoulder yet eventually got over it, but some still walk around with it to this day and it spills over into their political views more often than not.
A fourth grade teacher once told me my ambitions would be nothing more than to hang off the back of a garbage truck. In contrast, a sixth grade teacher assured me I could be anything I wanted in life.
We were all Kindergartners once, yet the definition could have a lingering effect if we let it.
A host of Americans believe “The country’s a mess” as my daughter does. But, it’s time to vanquish those fetters of yesterday and graduate past something more than elementary.
Greg Allen’s column, Thinkin’ Out Loud, is published bi-monthly. He’s an author, nationally syndicated columnist and the founder of Builder of the Spirit in Jamestown, Indiana, a non-profit organization aiding the poor. He can be reached at www.builderofthespirit.org or follow him on Twitter @GregAllencolumn.
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