Friday, October 26, 2012

Shoes and Socks and . . . Wait a Minute!

In my poem "How Do You Choose?" I joke that you can choose a President based on his shoes—and socks.

How Do You Choose?
by Janet Wong

Uncle Al once told me
you can judge a man
by his shoes.
Or shiny and slick?

But of course it's not enough
to look at shoes
when you're choosing
a president.


We need a close look
at the socks, too.

Thinking about all the undecided voters still out there, I decided this morning to search for "Romney socks." This great photo popped up. I thought: "Look at you, George Bush! And maybe Romney's not as square as everybody thinks?"

But then I looked a few images over and saw the same setting, with George Bush in his same purple socks and white turtleneck, Romney in his same suit and tie . . . but this time wearing serious all-black socks. They could be the same socks, but the stripes seem to show rather high on the foot (and not show in this photo). Wait a minute! What happened there?

Was Romney wearing striped socks and someone told him to change to "conservative socks" for the photo-op, or was he wearing the conservative socks until someone gave him the striped socks to wear for the photo-op?

I am seriously puzzled. Good thing I'm not an undecided voter!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Don't Be Scared - Share!

Wouldn't it be great if, in the week-long period before the election, everyone wore something that shared their choices with the world? If you find yourself too ashamed to wear a campaign t-shirt or button for your candidates, then maybe you need to ask yourself why you're voting for those people.

Go, Katy Perry!

Maybe you don't have any "election clothes." That's OK. Just ask your friends, your relatives, and your neighbors: "Who are you voting for?" I don't understand why some people think voting is a private matter. Elected officials have the power to affect our lives in huge ways. If you're going to vote for someone who might take my rights away, I'd like you to be brave enough to tell me why you're voting for that person. And if I'm voting for someone that you don't like, please give me a chance to change your mind. Don't be scared to talk about the election—share your views!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Swing States and the Electoral College

Now that the debates are over—thank goodness!—this is a great time to talk to kids about swing states and the electoral college. Politico has an easy-to-read map at their site:

Listening to the news, people have got to wonder if their vote doesn't really count unless they live in one of those swing states. Here are a couple of poems to get your discussion started!

Swing State
by Janet Wong

I heard them say on the TV
that we live in a swing state.

If we vote the right way
will our neighborhood
get a new playground?

Electoral Math
by Janet Wong

50,456,002 > 50,999,897?
100,455,899 = 538
270 = Winner!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My Challenge to You

Kids--you DO have a voice! Honey Boo Boo told Jimmy Kimmel yesterday that she would vote for Barack Obama. I'll bet that thousands of voters will swing to Obama because of her endorsement.

My challenge to you: watch the debate between Romney and Obama tonight. Even if just for 5 minutes. Then talk about it with your parents or grandparents or aunts or uncles. I bet you'll have questions and comments about what you'll hear--and you might just swing their votes, too!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Discussion Question #11: Who Would You Want?

Who would be some of your ideal presidential (or VP) candidates? Why?

If Jon Stewart ran for President or VP, I would vote for him in a second. He's informed, he's smart, his heart is in the right place—and people listen to him.

And there are "regular people" that we all know who would make excellent elected officials, too. Here's a poem I wrote about that:

Land of the Free (Kick)
by Janet Wong

I do believe
beyond the shadow of a doubt
that I could vote for any
of twelve good men and women
to be president
if only they were willing
to have that job.
Brad and Angelina could job-share
and we'd be on top of the world.
Tebow: The Miracle President.
No one would mess with Oprah.
Or: how about my soccer coach?

With my soccer coach as president,
there would be no excuses.
Slack off and you'd have to do
fifty push-ups.
She could get Congress
playing together as a team.

God Bless America:
Land of the Free (Kick),
Home of the Brave!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Whole Team

Tonight (starting at 9pm ET) we have a chance to hear from the VP candidates, Joe Biden and Paul Ryan. While listening to them should be useful—especially since one of them could become President "in a heartbeat"—is the VP really the only one the President relies on when making a hard decision? Doesn't he consult a handful of people?

I think it would actually be more interesting for each side to be able to have 5 people up there Family Feud or Quizzo-style, discussing their answers in a huddle for one minute, and then having one person provide "the team answer." Here's my thinking:

The Whole Team
by Janet Wong

The way things are
we're just looking
at the star quarterback,
when everyone knows
he can't win alone.

I want to see
how the whole team plays
before I place my bet.

If you were running for President, who would you want on your dream team of advisers?

Monday, October 8, 2012

What's on YOUR Ballot?

My son attends college in Maine. Recently he said that he plans to vote in Maine this November instead of sending in an absentee ballot for NJ (where we live and where he is currently registered), because "my vote is more important in Maine." We talked about this and, yes, his vote probably is more important in Maine; there are issues on the Maine ballot that we don't have on the NJ ballot, such as gay marriage.

What's on your local ballot? What do the propositions mean? This is a great research question for your students. Most of us are focusing just on electing a president—but there's a lot more at stake!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Discussion Question #10: Who's the Winner?

It would be really awful if people woke up on Wednesday, November 7th, looked at the news, and said, "What happened? I thought my candidate was way ahead. I guess I should've gone to vote!"

Here's something to talk about (from the Voter's Journal and Discussion Guide in Declaration of Interdependence):

Predict the winner of the next presidential election. Will you be happy if you're right? If so, how can you help make it happen? If not, what can you do? 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Win a Book!

My good friend, blogger Elaine Magliaro, is a very political person--politically aware and also not shy about voicing her political concerns--so I was very relieved when she said she likes my election poems. (Elaine is one of those brutally-honest friends that you can trust to tell you that your outfit (or poem) is terrible.) Leave a comment about at Elaine's blog and you'll have a chance to win a free book!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The First Obama-Romney Debate

What do you remember from last night's first Obama-Romney debate? Do you remember WHAT they said, or just HOW they said it?

Mainly I remember thinking: "Would someone give Obama a cup of coffee, please?" (Wake up, Mr. President!)

And: "How about some chamomile tea to calm Romney down a bit?"

As far as substance, I'm sorry to say I didn't remember a whole lot--much of what was said seemed like infomercial talking rather than genuine communication. And I'm not sure that I trusted what was said. It would be really neat to have little frowning faces (or question marks) pop up over their heads every time they stretch the truth, wouldn't it?

Here's a poem that I wrote after one of the Republican debates earlier this election season. Use it as a start and revise it to reflect your own views about these debates!

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire
by Janet Wong

#1 says: 
That’s a lie.

#2 says: 
You can’t hide.

Don’t beat up on me.
The truth is just so . . .
complicated . . .
when you’re trying to get 
My mind is fogged up
kind of hazy . . .
I know you think
it sounds plain crazy
but I simply don’t remember.
Ask me again—

in December.