Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Candid Date with Civics

As you prepare to go to the polls and vote on Tuesday, or if you've already cast an early ballot, there's no better time to open a discussion with your family about why you vote, how you vote, and why you vote the way you do.
  • To get the discussion started, here's a website (FindLaw) with a list of the 50 states' constitutions. Take a look at your state's constitution and start asking questions. Who does it affect, and who drafted it? What does it say? Where is it applicable? When did these principles originate? How does it affect my life and my family's choices? How are candidates responding to these questions?

  • Then re-read the U.S. Constitution. What kind of issues related to the constitution are being discussed in this year's elections? How would you respond?

  • For more information about civic responsibility and the process (grammar!) of voting, check out a site like Rock the Vote or the US government's Voting and Elections page. Find your district and precinct and figure out which offices are up for the vote in this election, and who's running for them.

  • Next, check out a website like OntheIssues.org, which provides information about where your candidates stand on issues that are important to you, including the economy, civil rights, education, foreign policy, environment, and more. You can also get information from Project Vote Smart, which offers broad-based information about candidates and current officials.
Conducting this kind of research does demand something of you as a voter, but by taking it one step at a time, not only can you do it, but at the same time you can model for your children what it looks like to participate in representative government.

So regardless of which candidates win your vote in this election season, don't miss out on the opportunity to have a candid discussion with your family about what citizenship means to you.

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