economy, parenting, Politics, Thor

Civics and the Six-Year-Old

Thor loves NPR and the Classical music station, and has since he was old enough to express a preference by screaming his lungs out when I tried to change to the pop channel.  Because he listens to NPR (and I swear to you, he ASKS to listen to NPR–believe me there are days I’d rather be letting the Top 40 fill my work-vacant brain) he hears a lot of talk of politics, and he asks some pretty good questions for a 1st Grader.

Last week, on our 5 minute drive, after a recap of his understanding of the 2-Party System, he asked me, “So what’s the difference between Democrats and Republicans?”

Uh…in a nutshell?  And impartially?  Geez.

I tried to explain that the Ds were usually more liberal socially, preferred for the Government to be very involved in daily life, and were more likely to spend money on people, and that Rs were more conservative socially, preferred small government, and were more likely to spend money on industry and business.  He then asked what was liberal, and what was conservative, and I said liberal socially meant fewer rules about how people should live their private lives (which was ironic, since many liberals like the Government to make more rules) and conservative meant more rules about how people should live their private lives (with the reciprocal irony.)

And then Thor asked, “So what about the money?”

I said, “It’s kind of like this.  Say you have no money.  The Democrats would ask the Government to give you $2 a week forever.”

He interrupted, “I don’t have any money!  They would give me money?!”

“But…  The Republicans would give $5 a week to a business, hoping that business would give you a job.  The job would pay you $3 a week, but the idea is that you can work hard and get a promotion, then make $5 a week, then get another promotion and make $15 a week.  So you would have a shot at improving your life and be more upwardly mobile.”

“Three is more than two,” he calculated.  “But then I have to get a job.”

“Dude, you are going to have to get a job anyway.  No deadbeats.  So, do you understand?”

“Yep.  Which one is better?”

“Neither.  Both sides want the same thing–a strong country where people are happy.  They just have different ideas about how to get there.”

“What are you?”


“And what are they?”

“Ask Daddy.”

“Cool.  Can I have a treat after dinner tonight?”


I’m sure I over-simplified or screwed that up majorly somehow, but B is the political mind in the family.  I keep hoping one day Thor will ask me a question that is easy to answer.  Like, “Mama, what kind of corsage should I get my prom date?”

2 thoughts on “Civics and the Six-Year-Old”

  1. No you pretty much nailed it. Your description of liberal vs conservative is worthy of repeating to a lot of adults. Enjoyed There goes Santa Claus as well. Good stuff.

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