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...a sweatshop of moxie

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mama Voted For Obama

We've seen "Singing for Obama". We've read of youth corps pledging themselves personally to their leader, Obama. We've been treated to faux-seals, minted coins, and the self-important podium slogans declaring "The Office Of the President-Elect".

I bet you anything you could live with half of this ego-ride into Hell, so long as the kids are left out of it, right? Me too.

That's why I am creeped out about this site: Little Democrats.net. Its purpose is very clear:

This colorful book of rhythm
and rhyme is a fun and easy
way to make sure your kids
know you made the right
choice in 2008!

The book featured includes these illustrations:

A reading circle of kids surrounding a friendly, smiling Barack Obama with apparently a little mouse wearing the O-bama logo on his little t-shirt. Or is that a rat? Either way, I think Mickey has competition. About time the mascot of an evil corporation like Disney did.

"Mama didn't vote for a llama! Mama voted for Obama!", says the little O-Mouse to a rather startled llama. I do believe he's crocheting a teency sweater for the mouse.

Okay we get it, Mama voted for Obama and people were horse-tranquiliser happy ever afterwards, singing Kumbaya my Lord Barack near purple mountains majesty.

This book is the brainchild of one Jeremy Zilber, whose About Me section explains the reasons why behind this book.

I've been interested in politics ever since I was about 6 years old, when my parents agreed to host a fundraiser for presidential candidate George McGovern. They never told me I should be a Democrat or adopt a specific political ideology, but they explained why they were supporting the Democratic candidate in that election, and I'm grateful they did. My early exposure to partisan politics sparked a lasting interest in political issues and American government, and by the time I entered college, I was already a political activist with very strong political opinions.

After receiving a degree in government from Oberlin College and a Ph.D. in political science from Ohio State University, I spent the next ten years teaching American government and politics. Although I was teaching at some of the country's best colleges, it was apparent that most of my students knew very little about their government or the people who ran it. Sure, they'd all learned a few basic facts in high school, but most didn't really understand how the political system works, or why anyone should really care about it. Even more troubling was the fact that many of them seemed perfectly content (and often determined) to remain as politically uninformed and uninvolved as possible.

While I never conducted any formal surveys of my students, it was clear that most of the politically active ones had been raised by parents who weren't afraid to talk about politics around their kids. My experiences merely confirmed what researchers have known for decades: children raised in households in which politics is a frequent topic of discussion are most likely to become politically active adults.

Given my strong desire to see more Americans involved in politics and my support for progressive causes and the Democratic party, I wrote and self-published Why Mommy is a Democrat in November of 2005. The response has been simply fantastic. With over 25,000 copies sold in the first two years, Why Mommy is a Democrat is already one of the most successful self-published children's books of all time. Encouraged by the book's success, I self-published Why Daddy is a Democrat in 2007 and Mama Voted for Obama in 2008.

Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, I currently live in Madison, Wisconsin, with my partner Julia, stepdaughter Isabella (age nine), our cat Zach, and three very cute guinea pigs.

So we have a liberal academic currently living in Madison, Wisconsin, who wishes to basically indoctrinate kids at the earliest age, with innocuous-looking, pro-Leftist kiddie books.

Pish-posh you say? Perhaps. It's certainly not required reading like those dear Soviet tomes dedicated to the avuncular stories of "Uncle Lenin", which so many Soviet-bloc schoolkids remember reading about.

Many other Russians associate Lenin with their earliest school years -- he was the grandfatherly figure with the little beard and friendly smile at the front of their first-grade schoolbooks.

In these tomes aimed to first-graders, Uncle Lenin would always be pictured in his peasant flat-cap, gently holding court over a slew of kids, often hand-in-hand with them in a pastoral setting.

The point was to reinforce the innocuous gentleness of a leader, inferring that his political philosophy had made him so, and thus he was worthy of emulation. Once that connexion was made, it triggered feelings of safety, and in time, unquestioned loyalty to the man who could do no wrong. How could he? He loved kids!

If you sense my deep unease about these insidious books, and their motivation, perhaps you have the same feelings too.

That it comes from the kinds of people who usually revile McDonald's for their avid targetting of kids through Ronald McDonald and other mascots, is some cause for irony (or should I say, derision of their hypocrisy).

When its McDonald's their antennae go up, and stay up, with all due caution given this indoctrination by a world-wide conglomerate.

In testimony at yesterday's one-day food marketing hearing at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science, a McDonald's Corp. executive said the company takes Ronald McDonald to elementary schools and is talking to children as young as 4 in its advertising.

But when it's Barack Obama and other Democratic leaders being the sweet mascots of a political ideology?

Oh well, that's perfectly acceptable, even laudable!

After all, you wouldn't want kids not involved in the political process...except, of course, the brainwashing of children by Republicans who would prefer to share homespun anecdotes about George Washington cutting down a cherry tree, and fearlessly admitting it to his dad, or the rail-splitting adventures of Abraham Lincoln.

You know, stories about dead guys who actually built this nation by sacrifice, not propaganda.

I'm sure someone will place an order for this book, so that their little one is properly counseled about politics from earliest age.

But it would do well to remember that no matter how intense are efforts are to transfer our political leanings to our kids, sometimes the nippers grow up to believe exactly the opposite of what we do -- because, well, they're sick and tired of being lectured to.

Today, I spoke to an old friend. His name is John Gillespie. His father is the counselor to President George W. Bush, Ed Gillespie. Also a key person to putting him to the top, Ed feels no guilt when he extorts money from the American people and felt no guilt when he played a role in putting a man who has ended up causing a chain of events, ending with the lives of many people lost.

John, who is 19 years-young, however, has a low opinion toward his father, his support for his father's employer is minimal, and also, he is a vegetarian.

I can not doubt that every day of his life he was fed vocal bigot garbage, but denied it, and was born with a sense of righteousness, and a soul as well.

He is silently fighting his father. He is part of a movement in the making; the next generation of American.

Poor John. How much he reminds me of myself at his age. After being told by my father that Clement Atlee was the greatest prime minister of the 20th century, and that Margaret Thatcher was a working-class bloodsucker (a paraphrase, I think the term he really used was 'heartless cow'), I grew up to be the staunch conservative Republican you see before you, who furthermore hero-worships Maggie T.

Because sometimes kids just won't be told.

I'll definitely remember this book and the cautionary tales of John and myself, when it comes to raising my own child. No "Mama Voted for Palin" books for my nipper, no sir/ma'am.

But should any teacher or adult read to my child from this book, "Mama Voted For Obama", I will make sure I hire Ronald McDonald for every one of their birthday parties until they're 18.

I'll fight fire with french fries.

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  • If Lenin's actual behavior is somehow spun as "innocuous gentleness", made so by "his political philosophy"...

    What greater argument for being at least only apolitical is there?

    No one could serious consider Clement Atlee the greatest prime minister of the 20th century! Good Gravy!

    Now if Palin were an icon in Guitar Hero...that'd be cool.

    By Blogger Ron, at Thu Nov 13, 06:12:00 am GMT-5  

  • They never told me I should be a Democrat or adopt a specific political ideology, but they explained why they were supporting the Democratic candidate in that election

    Thanks, Mom and Dad!!


    By Blogger knox, at Thu Nov 13, 09:42:00 am GMT-5  

  • I think even my 10 year son would scoff at "Little Democrats dot com."

    I'm a bit more concerned with his current after-school appetite for "South Park" and "Family Guy"

    Should I worry? I'm not hip to their message.

    By Blogger chickenlittle, at Thu Nov 13, 01:11:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Rent Team America -- that's the South Park bunch.

    (You might want to watch it first without your ten year old.)

    You might be a little more hip then.


    By Blogger JAL, at Thu Nov 13, 05:35:00 pm GMT-5  

  • South Park is... well, not exactly right-wing but definitely anti-left.

    Family Guy has a typical lefty bent.

    A classic two-part South Park episode made fun of Islam, the cowardly Western reaction to the Danish cartoon brouhaha, and Family Guy. You can watch it online here and here.

    By Blogger JSU, at Thu Nov 13, 06:06:00 pm GMT-5  

  • JAL & JSU: Thanks for the words and links. I saw "Team America" and enjoyed it very much. I wouldn't show it to my ten year-old, due to some of the graphic depictions. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being Titus* level affront, I’d give “Team America,” about a 7. But “South Park” and “Family Guy” seem much tamer, under 5 perhaps, at least from what I’m seeing and hearing. Both are politically subversive and irreverent as hell, but they kinda remind me of Mad Magazine which I enjoyed when I was a kid.

    *the Althouse commenter

    By Blogger chickenlittle, at Fri Nov 14, 12:36:00 am GMT-5  

  • I think the book "Mama Voted For Obama" is wonderful! It has a great cadence; it is whimsical and has great illustrations. What a fabulous way to capture a time and place in history for your child or grandchild. I am going to give one to my new little grandson Gage. His mama did vote for Obama. His daddy is black, and both my daughter and son-in-law served honorably in the US Army.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 01, 01:44:00 am GMT-5  

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