October 17, 2006

Campaigning with Kids

Well it is that time of year again. You have noticed the cropping up of lawn signs, door knockers, political mailings and phone calls. Only 21 days until the election and then it will all be over.

It is a midterm election so we can expect lower voter interest and turnout. Yet this election could change the control of Congress and therefore the direction of our country. No matter which side of the political spectrum you fall in this should be important to you.

I wanted to encourage everyone to get involved in this election. As a citizen it is your responsibility to vote. As a parent it is your responsibility to teach your children to be good citizens. As a person living in this country you should care about the outcome of this election. It is easy to get involved and help out the political party or candidates that you support in the next few weeks. You can do it individually or yes even with your whole family involved.

Long time readers of this blog know that we are a politically active family. We get very involved with campaigns and have since before our children were born. Having children did not decrease this involvement, it just changed it. We have had to adapt our methods and approaches but not our commitment to being good and involved citizens.

There are many ways you can help out political campaigns with even very small children. We have knocked on too many doors to count, made phone calls from our home and phone banks, done literature drops, lawn sign drops, sign waving on election day and even worked at headquarters, all with small children in tow or helping out themselves. With older children this is even easier as they can often do all the same jobs as the adults and are often better received than some adults.

If you are interested in getting involved call your state or local party representatives and ask how you can help. You will most likely get recruited for Get out the Vote phone banking. These are typically three hour shifts at a site where you make phone calls and read directly from a script. Responsible teenagers can also do this along side you.

If phone calling is not your thing or you can not get to a phone bank because you have small children consider alternate ways to help out. The kids and I have gone to headquarters to put together and deliver lawn signs; we have cut flyers, stuffed envelopes and done photocopies for them. This upcoming weekend Serona will take our three year old to help out with a literature assembly day. As I tell the kids each job we take away from an adult frees them to do a responsibility you could not have such as phone calling. The kids have fun doing this and it becomes part of our schooling experience as we learn about citizenship and government and political issues.

Perhaps my two favorite things to do with small children are door knocking and sign waving. The kids actually enjoy these activities and look forward to them. I put the youngest in a stroller which can help carry all our supplies (which of course includes yummy snacks) and we walk the neighborhoods we are assigned. With three kids in tow even the fiercest political opponent is at least polite while we are standing at their door. Even if they really disagree with the candidate I may be supporting they are never rude in front of three little kids. Door knocking involves much less than you may think it does and it really is not confrontational at all. Truthfully most people are not home when you do it. Still research has shown that get out the vote contacts like phone calls and literature drops at their home are the most effective ways to get people to the polls to vote.

Our other favorite thing to do is to find a big bridge or highway overpass or great sign waving location and wave big signs and flags for the week or sometimes more before the election. The kid's enjoyment of this is directly linked to the weather in Minnesota at the time. If it is snowing or really cold it is not as fun for them and we only do it for short bursts. If it is a beautiful fall day they love it and we stay out there for long periods of time. The kids get excited when people honk and wave and enjoy waving signs. We bring flags and some years we have brought ribbon streamers so they can have some variety of what they wave and do to keep it interesting for them. We finish with hot chocolate and some treats for their hard work.

Campaigning with children is a lot of fun and a great hands on way to make a difference in your local area and spend time together as a family. There of course are challenges and it requires some extra patience from everyone involved but it is worth it. To be honest when you first show up at a headquarters or offer to door knock with a bunch of small children you may get some skeptical looks but once they see how well you can do it all you get is support and appreciation for your hard work. Remember to keep it fun for the kids and continue to give them practical experiences of all the things you are teaching them to do.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this post because it did not try to take sides or even mention your party affiliation. Knowing how entrenched you are in your party I was extremely impressed with the fact that you just stress that people get involved even if they disagree with your view. This is a political post even your mother could not disagree with (OK that was a stretch)

    Family Forever