31 January 2005

Single...With Children: A Mind Of Her Own

Single With Children: Youthful zeal sparks interest in politics

By Susie Parker
Publication Date: 10/13/04

Politics and religion.

Everyone knows these two topics are best left untouched if one is fond of peace and tranquility.

I have friends and relatives of all political persuasions. That I am on speaking terms with most of them is a testament to the fact that I avoid anything remotely involving the upcoming presidential election. I love watching a spirited debate, and I admire the skill and fast thinking it requires; however, I tend to avoid confrontation at all cost and will jump into a fray only when there is no other way out.

The other day, I looked high and low and in every corner only to discover I had been lured into one of those instances where there was, in fact, no other way out. I got baited, and against my best judgment, I took the bait. Sure I knew better, but when did that EVER stop me?

Things started off friendly enough, with my opponent and me trading good-natured jabs at each other's chosen candidate. Even though I felt my adversary was completely wrong, I couldn't help but admire her command of the issues and her well-thought out, impassioned delivery.

Being a politically savvy woman, she managed to keep me on the defensive, affording me scant opportunity to launch a much preferred pre-emptive strike.

It didn't take long to realize I was ill-prepared for this impromptu "one-on-one".

Taxes, foreign policy, domestic issues, social programs, health care, terrorism - we covered it all. I felt inadequate and managed to confuse even myself, and I knew what point I was trying to make. Most of the time, anyway. To be honest, the whole thing is rather fuzzy, now that I think about it.

My antagonist had done her homework. She had chased down information, studied the campaign platforms of both candidates and ticked off the reasons, as she saw them, why her candidate was easily the best person for the job.

Darn lucky for me and my presidential choice, I had made a firm commitment to myself that I would not waver in support of my chosen contender because, for a moment or two, she almost had me convinced that her guy was the right man for the job. She was that good.

I guess it's really true that "all politics is local," and what's more local than a family? My political sparring partner happens to be my daughter, who is about to cast her first general election vote and couldn't be more enthusiastic.

I smile at her exuberance, determination and commitment to attempt to separate the facts from the political rhetoric and spin.

I share my pride with her and gush accolades at her sense of civic duty, and then I quietly mumble, "It's a shame your very first vote will be for the wrong candidate."

Of course, she knows I'm kidding. Sort of.

It feels strange to consider that I raised this budding politico in a home that espoused my beliefs, values and interests. I'm proud of her independent streak and zest. Katie's energy, and unfortunate judgment, have given me renewed interest in this campaign season and her impressive knowledge of the "hot button issues" has prompted me to stay up to speed on current events, polls and every available sound bite I can uncover supporting my candidate and cause.

This keeps me on my toes and leaves less time for me to ponder that centuries-old question that must plague other parents of up and coming-of-age young adults who dare to be different; "Where did I go wrong?"

While my newly registered daughter and I may never see eye-to-eye on the issues and will probably be poles apart on all things political, I am inspired by this obsessed political junkie I have raised.

She is actively seeking answers and realizing the world extends beyond the 10 square miles or so she typically inhabits. I'm pleased she realizes that global events, more often than not, have local impact.

I am also comforted by another important fact, should this election not go as I hope.

My son will turn 18 on Nov. 21, which means I have four more years to point out the error of his sister's ways.

Readers can e-mail Susie Parker at susiewrites@gmail.com or write to her c/o Amarillo Globe-News, Features Dept., P.O. Box 2091, Amarillo, TX 79166.

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