Teaching politics in Obamaland

In the last election season, Mindy Schiller asked her sixth-grade history class to develop a fictional candidate and create a commercial persuading classmates to vote for him (or her). Teaching at a Jewish day school in Barack Obama’s very liberal Hyde Park neighborhood, she wondered whether students might deviate from their parents’ beliefs, she writes in The American Thinker.

How to explain the concept of a graduated income tax to a 6th-grader? Badly-shaped pies scattered the whiteboard alongside percentages and proportions. . . . We tackled welfare, immigration, and national security . . .

Things got interesting when we discussed the candidates’ views on health insurance.  This I defined as putting money into a communal pot so that someday, if we need it, there will be enough money in that pot to help individuals through a difficult time.

“But where does that money come from?” asked one boy.

“From our salaries,” I told him. “Every time we get paid, there’s a deduction for insurance.”

Students were dubious about that  and even more critical of unemployment insurance. They worried about freeloaders.

 One girl got up and pointed at a leftover pie on the board.  “If you give away enough of your paycheck to welfare,” she said, “then pretty soon won’t you be the one who needs it?”

“Well,” I said, measuring my words, “that’s why some people are against raising taxes.  But others would argue that most of the taxes are paid by people who can afford them.”

The next day, they took an online quiz produced by the nonpartisan ProCon.org that asked a range of questions. “Should abortion remain legal?” “Should felons be allowed to vote?”

The quiz generated a student’s preference of candidate from a choice of five: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, (Green) Jill Stein, (Libertarian) Gary Johnson, and (Constitution Party) Virgil Goode.

During class, several students learned their views were closest to Virgil Goode. Only one was closest to Obama. Schiller told them to finish at home, asking their parents for help understanding any tricky questions.

By the next day, all were Obama supporters.

My daughter, then 15, was indignant when I explained why money was missing from her very first paycheck (as an assistant Sunday school teacher.) “I worked for that money!” she said. “I earned that money!”

And now she’s an Obama voter.

About Joanne


  1. “Authority” matters. What my mother said still rings in my ears years later.
    When the mainstream media and much of academia (my husband works at a private liberal arts college, so I know of what I speak) has spent years saying how wonderful Obama and his policies are (out of partisanship rather than actual accomplishments, in my opinion) is it any surprise when people believe that message over their own insignificant thoughts and experiences?

  2. I completely agree. As people get older and wiser, they begin to see the wisdom in liberal progressive policies.

    • Stacy in NJ says:

      It is odd then isn’t it that the older you get the more likely you are to vote Republican?

      • Not odd at all.

        The older you get the longer you have to come to terms with the unappetizing fact that the world doesn’t revolve around you. Some people take longer to come to that realization then others and some people won’t live long enough to achieve that blessed state.

  3. The sad/frightening thing is when people get slapped upside the head by reality and still cling to their propaganda. I don’t know if it’s due to brainwashing, rank idealism, or what, but these people are so out of touch with reality that I doubt they would have enough sense to come in out of the rain. It’s sad that there are those who have abandoned all pretense of rational thought (which is supposedly one of the main characteristics that sets man apart from beast), and it’s frightening that these people are entrusted with voting privileges. No wonder this country is on the fast track to destruction, when extreme left-wing political hacks like Obama and his statist pals are elected and then re-elected to office.

  4. As someone who voted for Reagan in the 80’s and Obama in the last election, I can tell you that it’s not uncommon for people to reject extreme right wing beliefs as they mature.

    I started out as a Republican because I support a culture of life and thought that was a conservative value. But now it seems as if conservatives have lost their way. All they care about is more money for a wealthy few. I found it creepy when this woman bragged about children in her class being against health insurance for the poor. It reminded me of that Romney video in which he actually said that 47% of Americans are not entitled to health care or even food. This attitude is a culture of death.

    I don’t know what caused your daughter to change her mind and vote for Obama, but it is possible that she has chosen to embrace a culture of life. Being truly pro-life isn’t about punishing frightened young women who consider abortion. It is about helping them. Speak with your daughter. You might find that she has some insights to share with you.

    • Stacy in NJ says:

      Right. Because the difference between left and right is all about abortion.

      As a libertarian I’m frequently gobsmacked by the self-delusion both Red and Blue team members exhibit.

      • Stacy, I have always been aware of the libertarian wing of the Republican party. But there was a time when those who supported the culture of life were able to provide balance.

        Lee, what sets man apart from beast, is the human capacity to value the life of the vulnerable among us.

        • Stacy in NJ says:

          Our current president illustrates his own value for the vulnerable among us by droning Pakistani children. By his own admission he’s really good at it.

          • Stacy, I’m glad that we have found something we agree on. I do not support drone strikes for the very reason you mentioned. I suggest that you are a more caring person than you are willing to admit.

            I have never supported Obama on everything. Even though I have decided that laws that punish women who seek an abortion are counter productive, I still find some of his pro-abortion rhetoric harsh.

        • “…rational thought (which is supposedly one of the main characteristics that sets man apart from beast)…”

          Have problems much with reading comprehension?

          • I have known mentally retarded people who showed great compassion and caring for others even though they had limited capacity for rational thought. You may not consider people like this to be worthy of life, but I stand by my contention that it is human ability to respect the life and dignity of the vulnerable that distinguishes us from the beasts.

    • “It reminded me of that Romney video in which he actually said that 47% of Americans are not entitled to health care or even food.”

      Bullshit and a lie. That is not what he said. What he said is that 47% of the population are takers, and are not contributing to our nation. He was right. Almost half of the popilation are parasites, living off the work of the other half.

      • I guess you’re talking about my son who doesn’t pay federal income tax. He’s in the army, and he’s willing to take a bullet for this country, something that Romney has never been willing to do.

        In addition to our service men and women, the 47% includes people working at or near minimum wage, as well as the handicapped and the elderly.

        I am “gobsmacked” by people who support a culture of death. I remember hearing a Republican rally at which someone asked what should be done for an old man who is sick and poor. The people started laughing and chanting “Let him die! Let him die!” Believe it or not, I had been a Republican until then. Never again. Doesn’t it occur to you that your contempt for life could come back to haunt you? Do you really think that you could never be old or sick?

        • Ray, please stop concern trolling.
          I don’t believe a single thing you post.

        • Richard Aubrey says:

          Ray. I don’t believe it. It’s an old schtick.
          To deliberately pretend to have misunderstood Romney’s point is illustrative.
          Hardly anybody actually misunderstood it.
          EKBA. Acronym for Everybody Knows Better Already.

          • The “Let him die!” moment came from a Republican debate and was broadcast on CNN and later picked up by the other news services. You can check it out for yourself.

            What I find interesting is that, apart from Stacy, none of the “conservative” posts have shown any concern for the value of innocent human life. This is very different from the conservatism of the Reagan era.

          • Conservatives do care deeply about innocent human life. Personally, I’m torn when I find out we’ve been bombing civilians. A lot of us are not willing to sacrifice the quality of health care currently available by instituting a socialized medicine scheme that is highly unlikely to work as well here as it would in a Scandinavian country, though. Are you aware of how much welfare, Medicare, and disability fraud the USA already has to deal with? We, the people, are not as honest and hardworking a bunch of people as the Danes or Swedes. If you can’t show a national health care scheme providing excellent health care in Latin America or Africa, then I’m not interested in having it here because culture matters and the USA is a very diverse place.
            I think you’re willfully ignoring recent concerns about death panels (eventually, everyone has to die, but a lot of us really don’t want government bureaucrats making that choice) and Benghazi, to name a couple. And given that a baby born in the USA at 23 weeks gestation (here’s a recent such case involving the cousin of a friend – http://sweetbabyelsie.blogspot.com/) can end up living a full and happy life, “anti-abortion” is all about concern for innocent human life. I don’t agree with all pro-life measures and aims, but at its core, it really comes down to “Quit killing babies!” With so many highly effective birth control measures, there really is little excuse for most “unwanted” pregnancies, and I submit that those casually getting pregnant when the child will not be wanted, are far more callous towards innocent life than nearly all pro-lifers.

          • Sorry Ray but your link points to a Slate editorial and the link therein that supposedly points to the “rabble erupting” video points to a non-existent page at talkingpointsmemo.com. What that tells me is that the video’s misrepresented and Mr. Weisberg’s a liar.

            That’s about what one would expect from a lefty who didn’t vote for Reagan, was never a member of the Republican party and doesn’t have a son in the Army.

            To get back to the subject at hand, politicizing education isn’t a bug, it’s a feature.

            More or less continuously various groups try to insert their dogma into the public education curriculum. Lefties do it. Creationists do it. Even educated fleas do it and all for the same reason; they want kids to fall in love with the dogma the group is peddling.

            My reflex is to say “a pox on both your houses” since the beauty of indoctrinating children is lost on me. The only people who ought to have the privilege of filling children’s heads with idiotic ideas are parents since they, at least, have some legitimate claim to pursuing the child’s best interests.

            You, by contrast, don’t give a damn about the kids. They’re just a means to an end and not a very important means at that.

            As a lefty you’re necessarily dismissive of the value of human lives other then your own. That also is not a bug. It’s a feature.

          • Ray, your son most certainly pays federal income tax–unless he’s in the war zone, of course. I honor your son’s volunteer service in the army. You yourself dishonor it by using it as political leverage. I’m a veteran, and most vets would tell you the same thing. Ask your son.

            “Let him die!” is a talking point that manipulates the context and the facts. The article you link to implicitly says this (http://talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/tea-party-debate-audience-cheers-idea-of-letting-sick-man-without-insurance-die-video) though the link is broken.

            Here’s what really happened during the “Let him die!” moment (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/09/tea-party-debate-audience-cheered-idea-of-letting-uninsured-patients-die/):

            “What he should do is whatever he wants to do and assume responsibility for himself,” Paul responded, adding, “That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risk. This whole idea that you have to compare and take care of everybody…”

            The audience erupted into cheers, cutting off the Congressman’s sentence.

            After a pause, Blitzer followed up by asking “Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?” to which a small number of audience members shouted “Yeah!”

            Paul, a doctor trained in obstetrics and gynecology, said when he got out of medical school in the 1960s “the churches took care of them.”

            “We never turned anybody away from the hospital,” he said. “We’ve given up on this whole concept that we might take care of ourselves or assume responsibility for ourselves. Our neighbors, our friends, our churches would do it. That’s the reason the cost is so high.”

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      Ray, I ask this sincerely: You wrote, “But now it seems as if conservatives have lost their way. All they care about is more money for a wealthy few.” Isn’t that hate speech? Are you trying to show how much you are pro-life by how much you hate people you say are anti-life?

  5. CT, it is a relief to hear from a pro-life conservative. I was beginning to worry that they were an endangered species. Your words are interesting and thoughtful. I wouldn’t want you to stop being a conservative because as far too many “conservatives” turn away from the culture of life, voices like yours are needed.

    Stacy, I hope it is not due to alcohol or Alzheimers, but I still respect your courage in speaking up for the victims of drone attacks.

    • Richard Aubrey says:

      Ray. Where does the Born-Alive-Infant-Protection Act fit into your scheme? You know, the one The Won voted against?
      And as to let him die, how are we on legal assisted suicide?
      And see the Independent Payment Advisory Board. And a board in Oregon already reducing payments for tough cancer cases for the indigent.
      Nothing says care for life like having government ‘crats tryng to make their budget look good for the next performance review.