From the Mouths of Babes: Sequestration and The Simple Truth

2 Mar

By Dawn Mays

On Wednesday evening, I was reading the paper (yes, I occasionally still read a newspaper in original paper form) when my fourth grader, Logan, read over my shoulder and saw the two page spread about cuts that will happen with Sequestration.

He asked what that was all about and what it meant.

I sat for a moment trying to boil down the issue and find a way to explain it.

Meanwhile, my second grader, Lauren, saw all the pictures and their captions in the paper describing all of the programs that would have cuts coming. She asked why this was all happening also.

Now, you must understand that my children have an above average understanding of the election cycle, congress and political parties for children their age, because I have always included them in my work on campaigns.  They believe Republicans and Democrats are equal just have different views on how to accomplish things in government. They tend to judge elected officials by how well they do their job first and the political party second.

So, after much thought, here is what I told my two older children.

Logan, you are on the Blue team. Lauren, you are on the Red team. And, your younger sister goes back and forth between your teams depending on who is making her happier or who has better cookies.”paint

“Logan, you want to paint everything Blue and Lauren, you want paint everything Red. You both are standing in the driveway with a bunch of things that need to be painted and nobody can do anything else until you come up with a plan you both agree on. Now, instead of taking turns or compromising by painting some items Blue and some items Red, neither of you will let anything happen until you can paint everything your color.”

Logan then asked “Are these grownups?” to which I sadly answered, “Technically, yes they are grownups.”

He next asked, “So, why doesn’t the President come over and make them find a compromise? Isn’t that his job?”

“Well, because the President wants to paint everything Blue.” I explained.

Lauren, aghast, chimed in next.  “This whole thing is silly. Nobody can get their way all the time. They need to compromise and start painting things!”

We talked for a few minutes about how the congress and senate had to approve laws and budgets so that the government can run and that funding can be given to different projects and things like the military. We have had long conversations about personal budgeting before and they have both had to endure the consequences of not budgeting their allowance money.

Logan, who was obviously thinking about this debacle and trying to find solutions, then blurted out, “I think what we need to do is this: we need to form a new party. We need to have a party that starts with doing what’s right not what’s easy.”

He continued, “I don’t mean this wrong or selfish, but people need to take care and responsibility of themselves first and then they can have the strength and stuff they need to help others. So basically – if I take care of me then I can take care of others.”

I sat there for a moment absorbing what my 10-year-old son had just said. Finally, I was able to carefully craft a response.

“I understand why you would think the solution would be to start over because things are obviously not working this way. And, I agree that you need to take care of yourself before you can help others.

“However, I choose a different plan of attack then starting a new party. I choose to find people who think that way, who are willing to make the right decision, not just the popular decision. I look for people who are working to find solutions and I have supported them as they run for office or sought to get to know them better.

“I have chosen to live my life that way – to work hard, to help others and to do the right thing even when it’s hard to do so. I make mistakes along the way and some things have not gone the way I wanted, but I always come back to the idea that our government is only as good as what we put into it.”

The conversation pretty much ended there because I had a SpaceCoastTigerBay dinner meeting to attend and they had homework to do.

But, as I drove to my meeting and reflected on their innocent truths, I realized that we as citizens have enabled our elected officials to behave this way. Just as some enable their children to misbehave by turning a blind eye or giving excuses or multiple second chances instead of discipline.

We have excused our leaders’ behavior. We have not held them accountable and not required the same level of maturity that I would expect from my second grader.

While I am aware this is an extreme oversimplification of a very complex situation, the simple truths are also often some of the best places to start.

“If our leaders are not worthy, we have the power to elect leaders who are.” -Elizabeth Dole.

We must never forget our responsibility as citizen leaders who hold the power to support worthy leaders, encourage new leadership voices, and discipline those who have lost their way.

3 Responses to “From the Mouths of Babes: Sequestration and The Simple Truth”

  1. pystew March 3, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

    What a great article– I couldn’t reblog it for some unknown reason, so I did the next best thing–it is on my blog (http://newny23rd.com) with a link back to Leadership Voices. I’ll be back to read more.

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  1. From the Mouths of Babes: Sequestration and The Simple Truth | New NY 23rd - March 3, 2013

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