Great lessons easy to find this season

From the editor

As a kid growing up in a tiny town in Maine, I learned early about government by the people, for the people. Every year at the annual town hall meeting, the entire population of the town would gather and vote on issues facing them. Majority won.

By high school, I made a whopping $18 a day writing about town hall meetings across the county for the local weekly newspaper. By 18, finally old enough to vote in a presidential election, I became a member of the town’s caucus—a handful of people sitting around a huge worn kitchen table at the biggest cattle farm in our county to cast our vote for the town’s presidential pick.

I never forget those early lessons.

No matter where your politics rest, this year’s presidential election presents us with great opportunities to involve our children in the political process and teach them critical thinking skills. We are especially lucky to live in an area saturated with media coverage in the run up to Nov. 4 because it provides us easy ways to open discussion on important topics with our kids. In my house, we’ve talked about Barack Obama’s upbringing and his daughters, about John McCain’s time as a prisoner of war and about Sarah Palin’s baby who has Down syndrome and her pregnant teenager and how those circumstances might affect their stands on the issues. We’ve also talked about the historic nature of this year’s decision and why it’s so important to really understand the issues beyond the headlines and candidate grandstanding.

Because the issues are so important this year, we have devoted a lot of pages this month to them. Although the candidates themselves refused interviews—their PR folks referred us to their Web sites for the candidates’ promises—we found local experts to analyze the issues you might care about. We also offer great ideas on getting your kids interested in the election while having fun, from seeing the theater adaptation of “Duck for President” to paying a visit to the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum and allowing them to cast their vote for the nation’s next leader.

What we do now with our kids only sets the stage to increase civic involvement in the future and ultimately, that affects all of us.

I wish you all a happy fall.

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