So on the way to school the other day, she spied an Obama yard sign and we got to talking about the campaign again, whether Hillary would win the nomination, and how even though we supported Hillary, it didn't mean that Mr. Obama is a bad person. I was explaining about the Primary Election and the Fall Election and how the Democrats were still trying to choose who would represent them in the fall.
"We like Hillary and we're Democrats, right?" she asked, reminding me of a similar conversation I'd had with my Dad about 100 years ago after we'd converted our living room into a polling place and we were watching the returns in our dining room where all the furniture was still crowded in. (Back in the old days, out in the country, polling places popped up wherever they could get space. That night was the year Jimmy Carter won the election but I remember Indiana being the first state called, and it had gone Republican, of course. "But Dad! I thought we were all Democrats!" I said, totally confused. I think I was 10.)
So when Ali asked if we were Democrats, I started to tell her that she gets to make that decision, and she should choose what party she likes based on what she believes in. But I decided that at 7, that she could be part of the pack.
"Right. We're Democrats," I said.
"And Republicans are the people who just care about making money, and they aren't very nice, right?" she said.
I almost wrecked the car. "Well, no, that's not quite right. Republicans and Democrats have different ideas, but it's not that they're not nice people. Some Republicans are really nice people," I said.
With school right around the corner, I was sinking fast, trying to be fair but still represent, you know?
"Democrats and Republicans both like having enough money, honey. It's just that Democrats are a little more quick to be generous when it comes to helping other people," I said as she was opening the door.
My definition troubled me all day, and I even complained to the head cheese at Angie's List that morning. He's upsetting my stereotype because he's a huge Republican, yet we do a lot for the neighborhood, the environment, a local day shelter and particularly a school that has disproportionate number of lower income and homeless families. We're also a very diverse company that cares a lot about human rights, and we run a program that helps connect people in need with others who can help them.
Last Christmas we had a food drive to help the kids at the school get through the long winter break without going hungry -- a lot of the families rely on the school for that. Alison and I had a long talk about the project back during the holiday.
So I was feeling guilty about having painted the GOP with such broad strokes. We talked a little bit more that night home from school about Ds and Rs. I reminded her that Grandpa and Auntie Jen are Republicans and that my friend, Bill, at work is a Republican. Bill has offered to explain his position himself, but I'm not sure she's (or I'm) ready for that.
"He runs the place, honey. He's the boss."
"I thought Angie was the boss."
"Well, they're kind of the boss together."
"Oh. Well, we're still Democrats, right?"
"What do you think?"
"Well, Dad is definitely a Democrat. He's a lawyer, and he helps people solve problems," she said, deciding that I was a Democrat, too, because I work at Angie's List.
And then she had an epiphany. "Angie should run for president!"
"Why should Angie run for president?" I asked.
"Because then the kids who have no food would get a whole pile of food!" she said.
I'm not sure she gets the political thing. Heck. I'm not sure I do anymore. But she's got her priorities straight, and that's what matters most to me...
Note to my Democrat friends who may be alarmed that I'm saying nice things about a person who helped get the opposition in: I'm still staunchly in the camp of FOB and JEK. That won't ever change. I am, however, embracing something I learned from both of them: no one has a corner on good ideas and we should celebrate whoever helps lift up those in need. I'm not changing parties, but I am considering the need to make room in my personal political tent...