Voting Makes Me Hungry ***Updated

There’s nothing like standing in line for 5 seconds, filling out a provisional ballot form, and then snapping some pictures of goofy kids at the polls to make you crave a hamburger and fries, and a Coke. Unfortunately, it was only 10:23 am, and McDonalds doesn’t turn the hashbrown-makers into fry vats until 10:30.

But, dadgum, we voted, and I didn’t cry until I was out in the car! Of course, I had to sing Nine Inch Nails lyrics under my breath every time I welled up, but NOT A TEAR WAS SHED until after I had safely voted.

In other news, I have now recognized people I know at both the Walmart and the voting booth, and so I feel as quintessentially American as Barack Obama and John McCain.

Sally didn’t get to see me vote this year, and I don’t know if she remembers my tearful explanations at our polling place in Florida four years ago. So this is how I’m going to explain the voting process to her today:

For Sally

We have two major political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. The Republicans are red, and the Democrats are blue, so you pick your favorite color and vote for it. No? Okay: the Democrats are donkeys and the Republicans are elephants, so you pick pachyderms or cloven hooves (kidding!).

Okay, for real: the red people are like the blood that takes oxygen to your muscles — muscles need oxygen just like we need freedom. The blue people are like the blood returning to the heart to get oxygen. We need to recycle and care for our environment just like our bodies care for our muscles.

If she asks me about abortion, I’ll tell her to go read my post and then pray about it for herself.

If she asks about taxes and welfare I’ll tell her that:

Democrats want to trust those who don’t have enough to take only what they need.

Republicans want to trust those who have extra to give as much as they can.

Which is why I wrote in George Washington, and I’m going to be mighty disappointed when he doesn’t win.

How do you explain to your kids who you vote for?

Jane

*I didn’t really vote for George Washington. He’s dead, you know.

***Updated to add***

I had some good, all-American pizza ready for my hungry second-wave voters. Sally asked me after school if I voted for Obama, because Carson’s dad says that McCain wants gas to be higher, like 300, while Obama wants gas to be 100. I had to disappoint her, sadly.

Do your parents know what your favorite book is?

Sarah Palin is like a national Rorschach inkblot test, especially for women. What we see when we look at her tells an awful lot about us. I’m not talking her politics per se, I’m talking her great hair, snappy clothes, edgy glasses, and Tina Fey sparkle.

Maybe we hate her because she’s beautiful. Maybe we love her ’cause she’s feisty. Maybe we feel threatened by her seeming ability to have it all. Maybe we think her priorities are really mixed up as we yell at the kids to get their ding-dang shoes on RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Maybe we think she’s the Rosa Parks of the 21st century. Maybe we think a beauty queen could never be king.

I have mixed feelings about her (politically AND personally), but I don’t really care that the Republican National Committee spent $150,000 outfitting her with more bracelet jackets, though reading about it did send me to my Project Runway guide.

Me: What’s a bracelet jacket?

Tara: I don’t know — a cropped jacket maybe?

Me: But I think she wears longer, belted ones too. I think it just means you can see her bracelet when she wears it.

Tara: Oh. I guess that could be it.

The sartorial excesses of the aspirational governing class don’t really offend me. What else are they going to spend all those donations on anyway? More bad TV commercials?

But I’ll tell you what I do care about. Sarah Palin’s parents remember her reading everything from the local newspaper to Little House on the Prairie as a “strong, quiet” child, but they can’t quite recall what her favorite book was as she got older.

That may seem like a little thing. And it would be great if they listed a bunch of books that she read and raved about, but just couldn’t pin it down to one favorite. But no. “Her parents could not recall her favorite books as she grew older, but said they read Reader’s Digest aloud as a family.”

Reader’s Digest, my friends.

Now, I like me some Reader’s Digest when I’m indisposed, and I confess to enjoying a lot of frothy romantic-suspense-mystery-romance in my Thank Everything Holy The Kids Are In Bed time.

But my parents know what my favorite book is.

(And it ain’t Reader’s Digest.)

(Unless I’m on the pot.)

Do your parents know what your favorite book is?

Visit more What’s On Your Nightstand?

Can a Stay-at-Home Mom be Pro-Palin? *Updated*

When I was young and naive, I was active in the Young Republicans. We did a phone bank for some terribly important initiative, and we invited our U.S. Representative to the Spanish Fork High School. We canvassed for voter registration, and I enjoyed the American Legion Auxiliary Girls’ State. Politics, in other words, was big.

Politics makes you think you can change the world. If you can register an old lady living with seven cats in a weed-choked little house to vote, you can change the world.

Until you grow up and realize that even Republicans cheat on their wives and even Democrats drive gas-guzzling black SUVs.

I’ve been drifting slowly leftwards ever since, but I’m still a Republican, except when I entertain Libertarian fantasies.

I’m also a woman. And a Christian. These things should all go well together, but sometimes there’s tension.

At church on Sunday, Sally (7) asked me about the hymn we were singing, which starts: “Tis sweet to sing the matchless love Of Him who left His home above And came to earth — oh wondrous plan — To suffer, bleed, and die for man.”

Why Mom, she wanted to know, Why does it say “man” instead of “girls” or “women”?

I gave her the spiel — man is short for “mankind” and means both men and women, and girls and boys. Like when people say “The Dick and Jane Family,” and they really mean Sally, Susan, and Spot too. That answer satisfied her for now, and it satisfies me.

Mostly. Sometimes, though, I wonder why even the language I speak excludes me.

Wouldn’t it be great to show my daughter a female Commander-in-Chief?

I learned of Sarah Palin‘s being chosen for the VP spot on the Republican ticket from the Mommy Internets on Twitter. It should be a most fantastically exciting political development. I’ve never really liked Hillary: it’s easy for even an unenthusiatic Republican to be pretty disgusted by the whole Clinton machine.

But Sarah Palin! Miss Wasilla! Married to high school sweetheart! Mother of Five! Pro-Life! Something about Polar Bears!

What a dream it would be to have someone interesting and admirable and exciting and female AND Republican to vote for.

So why aren’t I down at the local caucus volunteering for flyer-envelope-licking duty? What could I possibly have against someone who hasn’t done enough in office to have much of a record on issues and policies?

Can a Stay-at-Home Mother be Pro-Palin?

Many pro-lifers are excited about Palin, because she chose to continue her fifth pregnancy even after finding out her son had Downs Syndrome.

Now she has chosen to run for the Vice Presidency of the United States when that baby is four-months-old, and I’d like to know how and why she made that choice, and how it’s going to work.

I’m not saying that mothers shouldn’t work. Each woman has a unique set of circumstances that affects what she wants to do and what she can do and what she has to do. Different women have different energy levels, interests, ambitions, and abilities. We also differ in our family support, number of children, age of children, health, economic resources, and social and academic opportunities, etc.

Most women spend a lot of their time balancing their own needs and wants with those of their families. (Good husbands and fathers do the same).

Marriage is a partnership, and if Palin’s husband were a stay-at-home parent, I’d have no reservations whatsoever about her ambitions. If one partner in a marriage has an extremely unconducive-to-family-life job, it’s nice if the other is able to give greater attention to the children. One benefit of unconducive-to-family life jobs is that they are usually well-compensated enough to allow the other parent this luxury.

Can a Working Mother be Pro-Palin?

Governor Palin was back at the office three days after giving birth. Is that the sort of life-work balance working mothers are striving for?

The winners of November’s election will influence policies that affect mothers, stay-at-home and working. Will we have more tax credits for childcare? An equivalent tax credit for stay-at-home-parent care? Will we raise taxes to expand subsidization of day care and Head Start? Will family leave and maternity/paternity benefits increase or decrease?

Does Governor Palin understand why a woman would choose to stay home and the challenges she faces? Does she understand what most working women struggle with in seeking to balance kids and careers?

Sarah Palin was chosen for the express purpose of appealing to female voters and Hillary Clinton supporters and working mothers and stay-at-home mothers. But I’m not going to vote for someone just because they’re female or just because they’re Republican or just because they’re pro-life. I’d like to know what my candidate’s positions are, in life and in work, before I cast my vote.

Side note on Personal v. Public lives. It’s ridiculous to say that what politicians do in their private lives doesn’t affect their public service. Half (or more) of Palin’s appeal is supposed to be that she’s female, which is as personal as it gets. Also, no one complains when childhood anecdotes illustrate how deprived or hardworking or determined or principled candidates are. Should their actions and choices in adulthood carry less weight than whether or not they chopped down a cherry tree?

Natalie at Politics for Mom said this this morning:

As a mom, I am also not fond of the discussion that’s starting about how [Palin] should stay at home and raise her disabled and troubled kids. We already carry so much guilt as moms . . . especially when it comes to working and not working. It’s bad enough when your family and friends question your decision, but imagine having to answer to an entire nation. Would I be running for vice president if I was in her position? Probably not. But I respect her decision.

Yes, imagine having to answer to an entire nation. And if that doesn’t sound like something you’re interested in, please don’t run for a national office.

Side note on the possibly purloined pregnancy. I’m going to hope that Governor Palin was telling the truth about her baby. CNN agrees, though I don’t know anyone else who hid a pregnancy that well. Not even Shirley Jones in The Music Man.

*Updated* Phyllis @ Aimless Conversation linked to this article about Todd Palin taking a leave of absence to spend more time with the kids and avoid conflicts of interest when Sarah Palin became governor.

So many are enraged that anyone would even talk about her being a mother in the same breath as her candidacy. Well, I just don’t agree. Personal life choices reflect policy positions (or vice versa).

The fact that Palin didn’t abort her Downs baby shows that she’s staunchly pro-life. No one gets mad when this connection is trumpeted, because it’s an obvious conclusion to draw.

The fact that Palin was back at work immediately after giving birth shows that she might not be staunchly pro-maternity leave. Doesn’t it?

Just read this article at the Washington Post, and now don’t know whether to vote for her or ask to be adopted . . . or ask . . . Where can I get a Todd Palin of my own?

Hillesha, Baracook, and McArchuleta

Did you vote? I hope so, because tonight at 8 pm, the results of this most protracted primary runoff season will be announced and America will be down to the two major candidates. Will it be Hillesha vs. McArchuleta or Baracook vs. McArchuleta? Will anyone suggest that Hillesha and Baracook combine forces to battle McArchuleta?

You know, of course, that if you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain, right?* About taxes or wars or crappy schools or pitchy voices or asinine song choices. I know, it’s disheartening that it’s all so staged and phony. Not to mention demographically rigged. Blue-collar women like Hillesha, ‘tween girls and everyone over 75 likes McArchuleta, rockers and other assorted cool people like Baracook.

THIS is American Idol.

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No real political views were harmed or expressed in the making of this post.

*Unless you vote in the form of conscientiously-abstaining from voting in our troubled democracy, naturally.

I’m linking this up to Writer-Mommy’s Writing Wednesday carnival on Hope, because, baby, this is my hope for America.