Friday, November 07, 2008

It is all about the ice cream

The most eye-opening civics lesson I ever had was while talking recently to a third grade teacher. The presidential election was heating up and some of the children showed an interest. They had decided they would have an election for class president. They would choose the nominees. They would make a campaign speech and the class would vote. To simplify the process, candidates were nominated by other class members. They discussed what kinds of characteristics these students should have. They got many nominations and from those, Jamie and Olivia were picked to run for the top spot. The class had done a great job in their selections. Both candidates were good kids. The teacher thought that Jamie might have an advantage because he got lots of parental support. The teacher had never seen Olivia's mother. The day arrived when they were to make their speeches Jamie went first. He had specific ideas about how to make the class a better place. He ended by promising to do his very best. Every one applauded. He sat down and Olivia came to the podium. Her speech was concise. She said, "If you will vote for me, I will give you ice cream." She sat down. The class went wild. "Yes! Yes! We want ice cream." She surely would say more. She did not have to. A discussion followed. How did she plan to pay for the ice cream? She wasn't sure. Would her parents buy it or would the class pay for it. She didn't know. The class really didn't care. All they were thinking about was ice cream. Jamie was forgotten. Olivia won by a land slide. Every time Barack Obama opens his mouth he offers ice cream, and fifty percent of America reacts like nine year olds. They want ice cream. The other fifty percent know they're going to have to feed the cow.

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