The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Budd McLaughlin

August 15, 2012

Nephew’s political leanings carry a certain merit

— By now, it’s probably safe to assume most Americans have decided who they’ll vote for in the November presidential election.

Of course, there are also those who are so disgusted with both sides, they may not vote at all. Quite honestly, I’m not sure in which camp I’ll pitch my tent — Obama, Romney or disillusioned misanthrope.

Strangely enough, my 8-year-old nephew knows exactly who he’d vote for, despite being 10 years away from voting age. If given the opportunity, he’d vote for Romney, though it’s not for reasons you might think.

Both of my nephews have developed an obsession over the “Star Wars” franchise, which is the latest in a long line of franchises they’ve been obsessed with. It started a few years ago with SpongeBob and continued more recently with Phineas and Ferb.

Despite their obsession with Anakin Skywalker and Princess Padmé Amidala (from the more recent trilogy), they’re too young to watch the movies, all of which contain a negligible amount of cartoonish violence and are thus rated PG-13.

On a recent trip to the public library, my 8-year-old nephew tried to pull a fast one on his grandmother. He found a copy of a “Star Wars” movie he wanted to check out, but lied to her about its rating.

After returning home, he sensed only a small window of opportunity to watch the movie without being busted. While my mom, his grandma, was busy completing some chores, he grabbed the contraband film and watched it undetected, briefly, in another bedroom.

Sensing he might be up to no good — as is the standard operating procedure of most children left to their own devices — the grandma police invaded movie time and put the brakes on the screening.

As a means of punishment, my nephew was forced to write a report on why it’s wrong for a child to watch a PG-13 movie. One of his reasons included “bad language,” while another included “don’t get the jokes.”

In a moment of pre-pubescent political enlightenment, my nephew then decided he would vote for Mitt Romney because he could change the laws that prevent 8-year-old children from seeing a PG-13-rated movie.

He surmised that such cruel and unusual censorship must surely be the work of one Barack Obama. No one in my family, however, bothered to explain the difference between a social conservative and a social liberal.

As funny as I found my nephew’s reasoning Americans now vote for a candidate who we believe will be the one to change rules and regulations that will aid our own personal agendas.

Senior citizens vote for the candidate who’ll protect Medicare and Social Security, while business owners vote for who will best protect their tax bracket. Military families vote for the candidate who’s strong on national defense, while college students vote for the candidate who favors marijuana legalization.

Well, most college students.

Our political ideals have really become an offshoot of the selfish, self-obsessed society we’ve become. We want what we want, we want it now and we don’t want to justify why we want it to anyone. Got it?

I wasn’t around when FDR got America working again after the Great Depression, or when Truman dropped the bomb. I wasn’t around when Eisenhower and Kennedy crossed party lines to bring the country out of a post-World War II recession and into the dawn of the space age.

I am around, and fully aware, of what’s happening now politically. And I dread the day when my future children and grandchildren ask me about politics in the “early 2000s.”

Maybe I won’t tell them about the vitriol, attacks, partisan rancor, misinformed talking heads and lies that has become politics as we now know it.

Maybe I’ll just tell them about the time their older cousin, as a child, formed his political opinion based on his legal ineligibility to watch a science fiction movie.

It’s the bes reasoning I’ve heard in a long time.

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Budd McLaughlin


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