The great thing about being in Japan is that even though I am from a swing state (Nevada), I get to miss out on most of the insanity. When I wanted to partake I had to go online to get it and when I was done with it, I could disconnect and go back to Japan where, while the election was important, is a bit more concerned about the silly people in Tokyo than the silly people in Washington DC.
Still, as a father of two tiny Americans, I did want to talk to my sons a bit about the election and it was very important for me to start to impress upon them that they must vote when they are of age. While, technically, they will have two short years in which to vote in two different countries (The voting age in Japan is 20), I want them to be thinking of voting as something that isn't just a right, it's a duty.
It's also an obligation in my family. See, my family believes that political arguments makes for great dinner theater and every four years sees at least a few people shouting across the dinner table at Thanksgiving about the previous election. Actually, we shout across the table regardless of when the election was. Then we get into the ice cube and whipped cream war, but that's another story.
Still, there is one cardinal rule that my family follows, which is thus: if you are of age to vote, and you didn't, you are not allowed to argue or complain about politics as you didn't use your chance to change things.
It's this, plus a sense of duty, that was impressed upon me as a child. I remember going to the polls a few times with my mother to watch her vote so that my sister and I could see that there was nothing to it. When I turned 18, my mother drove me down to the city clerk to register and took me to the polling place that year so I could cast my first vote. I've voted in ever general election since, even after coming to Japan.
So it was with that in mind that I showed my sons my absentee ballot and told them what I was doing. Hikaru of course wasn't too impressed once he found out that Daddy wasn't going to let him color on it in crayon. Makoto however was a bit more interested.
Said he, "You need to pick Obama, Daddy!"
Me: "And why is that?"
Makoto: "Um.... you know... he's from America and you're from America so..."
Me: "Romney's from America too, Sweetheart."
Makoto: "Oh." Much thought. "Um, who likes Go-Busters! more?"
Which is probably not a bad basis for deciding on whom to vote for, all thing considered.
As for the Japan side, we haven't had a general election yet, but one should be coming up soon. The last time however Beloved took Makoto to the polls with her to see her vote and he got the prize that all children love on Election Day, the I Voted sticker.
In Japanese of course.
I'm assuming that she will take at least one of them with her when she goes again. Hopefully though she'll remember to get Hikaru to leave the crayons at home. I doubt that the Japanese government accepts ballots in crayons any more than the US one does.