FIRST PERSON | DENVER — I am a mother of three boys living in Colorado only blocks from the University of Denver, which hosted the first presidential debate.
That day, Denver closed portions of its main north-south highway and the streets around our neighborhood. Schools cancelled after-school activities, and professionals who could left work hours early to make sure they made it home before the closures. My boys skipped taekwondo. Many of us braced ourselves for a terrible inconvenience that never really occurred. It all went smoothly from our local perspective. We could hear cheering and music from our front yard, and students who wanted to celebrate in their own way held a party in the playground down the street.
We know the votes here could go either way come Election Day. That’s evident in the equal number of political signs for each party popping up in our neighborhood, although the light blue for Obama stands out better against the yellow aspen leaves in the city.
Our swing state status is also obvious when you talk to your friends, who don’t usually discuss politics. It turns out their views are spread across the political and religious spectrum. After growing up in Washington, D.C., where nearly everyone you knew was a Democrat, it is exciting to live in a swing state, where your best friend can completely disagree with you every four years with no hard feelings. There seems to be something to learn from everyone, because they don’t think exactly the same way you do.
The best thing about the election is listening to my third-grade son and his friends on their soapboxes. They talk as if they know what they are talking about. Apparently, my son, responding to a father who takes bites out of his doughnuts and then claims, “That’s your tax,” is preaching against Barack Obama on the playground. I received an email from a friend and Obama supporter who said her sons are “refusing to vote for Obama” because “someone” at school told them Obama will tax their parents “and then they won’t be able to afford to buy you BeyBlades or SkyLanders or Puffles anymore.”
Wow. Third-grade politics are tough. It’s all about the toys.
My friend knows about the doughnut tax at our house. She easily deduced the culprit.
Another friend on the other end of the political spectrum had the opportunity to shake Mitt Romney’s hand. She let our boys shake her hand only a few hours after he had. What excited them most was the fact that right before Romney shook her hand, he shook John Elway’s. The third-grader, a huge football fan, went to school the next day and basically boasted that through the transitive property of handshakes, he had high-fived the former quarterback.
A second third-grade mom email came today. Now, some of the boys are claiming there is no Santa Claus (definitely not mine). The child making this claim told the others in the middle of a wall-ball game that the government gives the presents and extra money for Christmas, not Santa. The email I received wondered if the same Romney fan was at work again. I assured her that I have already been in touch with Santa to let him know we still believe. Even in an election year, our Christmas lists will go to Santa — not Romney or Obama or anyone else.
So as the aspens turn gold and Halloween pumpkins settle on front porches here in Colorado with only a few weeks left to go, the swing has not stopped its forward and back motion … despite all the talk on the playground.