|Outside Wisconsin's Capitol|
My answers, in 1992: "George Bush!" and "Because that's who my parents are voting for!" I remember feeling proud to support who my mom and dad supported, to be able to put my affection for them into action.
Our middle school predicted a close Bush win. We were... incorrect. Wisconsin broke for Bill Clinton, 41% to 37% (that was the Ross Perot year, remember), and our county gave Mr. Clinton an even bigger margin. But the loss didn't sting too terribly. I was only twelve.
Twenty-four years later, my wife and I took our kids to tour the State Capitol in Madison. Before you assume we're some civic-minded uber-parents, we chose Madison for a quick family trip because, in order, it has a nice zoo (that's free), I found an incredible deal on a fancy hotel with a pool, and my wife REALLY likes farmer's markets (Madison has a big one). The capital was fourth on the list, tops.
|In the Assembly chambers|
"Why?" my son asked.
"Because he's the governor, and we have to respect him."
"But dad, what about..."
And then my son proceeded to recount all the of grievances I have with Governor Walker, shared over the dinner table and overheard in conversations with my wife since 2010. I've learned to loathe arguing politics with friends and strangers, but I can't tell this story without sharing a few of my views here. I'm not a Scott Walker fan. I'm a public school teacher. I signed the recall petition. My disagreements with him are the same as anyone else who disagrees with him, from Act 10 and the union thing to state natural resources to actions I perceive as unfair and underhanded, especially against those who don't agree with Governor Walker.
|The Governor's conference room|
The best antidote I could come up with as a I sat in the car was to teach my progeny who our representatives are, quick.
|On the capitol dome observation deck|
"And our Senator is Kathleen Vinehout. You have an aunt Kathy, so Kathleen. And then, think vines, like in the garden. They're outside. They're out. Kathleen Vinehout. Can you remember that?"
"Okay. So who's our Assemblyman?"
"Not a clue."
|Overlooking the rotunda|
I hope my kids grow up to believe what I believe, but I hope even more that I figure out how to respect their beliefs and values if they don't. Until we find out which way they fall, I will do my best to help them understand what "bicameral" means, and how the Supreme Court works, state and federal, and I promise, Mr. Kind and Mr. Johnson and Ms. Baldwin, I will come up with fun associations to help them learn your names, too.
My son's favorite part of the weekend, even more than the zoo and pool and pizza in the hotel room, was the tour. My daughter's was the capitol's revolving doors. For now, that's close enough.