As you may have heard, presidential elections took place here last Sunday. Even though history of instability has made Venezuelans nervous about elections, it was very uneventful. People stood in line, voted and the winner was announced. Pretty much how elections should go.
What did surprise me about this is something my daughter said to me one day on her way home from school.
Daughter: Several of my friends are for Capriles.
Daughter: Because they say Chavez is a bad man.
Me: What do you think?
Daughter: I don’t agree. When I see him on TV all he does is make people laugh.
Me: What do you think about Capriles?
Daughter: I don’t know anything about him, just that he’s abajo a la izquierda (that was his position on the ballot, which was written on all his campaign materials).
It’s no secret that Venezuelans are highly polarized when it comes to political preferences, but I’ve always felt that sort of thing was only discussed among adults. After hearing my daughter’s simple understanding of politics, I realized that I would never say such things to her about an American or Haitian politician. Of course I think that she should understand the political process, democracy and all that jazz. I just approach politics from a different standpoint.
When I choose to support a candidate, it’s not about the person – it’s about the issues. My values and the way that I think an efficient government should operate are what I base my vote on as opposed to whether or not I like a candidate. So to me, that’s what I need to teach my kids. I don’t want them to be fanatics to the point of saying mean things about people or name calling. Actually, I don’t want them to resort to that sort of behavior…ever.
How did your parents teach you about politics? How do you think children should be taught about it?