Second graders at Southern Boone Primary School are currently learning about the Constitution, our government, and what it means to be a citizen. I love having the opportunity to teach kids about their rights and responsibilities and what it means to be a member of a community. I find it incredibly refreshing to witness how genuinely interested they are in learning about civics, American history, and George Washington’s false teeth.

Travis Naughton

Travis Naughton

I really love my job. When was the last time you discussed government in a room full of people at work without a single one of them showing any signs of being jaded or disenchanted?

While discussing the roles people play in society while I subbed last week, the focus in one class shifted to the topic of helpers in the community. The goal was to name a job title beginning with each letter of the alphabet. When asked for examples, kids came up with ideas ranging from assistant president and police officer, to Army guy and karate chopper. When I asked for volunteers to share their answers for a helper whose title started with the letter E, one student excitedly answered, “Energy drinks!” I really, really love my job.

While discussing the November election, I told the kids in another class that one of the best things about living in the United States is having the right to vote for our president. “In America, we have the power to pick our leaders, unlike in some other countries,” I said. I mentioned that if you aren’t satisfied with the candidates, you can run for president yourself when you’re old enough. “In America, any citizen can grow up to be president,” I proclaimed, much to the kids’ delight.

The next moment, one young boy raised his hand and said sadly, “I can’t be president.” I immediately realized that he was right. Like two of my own children, the boy (whom I know well) was born in another country and later adopted by American parents. Inwardly, I cursed my own stupidity for being so careless, but then I quickly added, “Another great thing about America is that if you don’t like a law, you can run for Congress and work to change that law.” That seemed to lift the little guy’s spirits, although as a parent of two foreign-born, naturalized Americans and a friend to several others, I remained angry that my kids and others like them are treated as second-class citizens and that nothing short of a constitutional amendment will change that fact.

I’ve been careful to avoid mentioning the current candidates for president, afraid of how a positive class discussion about government might devolve into an imitation of an actual presidential debate. However, one young girl did manage to blurt out, “My dad says Hillary Clinton is a bad person!” I successfully and miraculously resisted the urge to counter with my own opinion about the other candidate’s character, (or lack thereof), replying instead with a reminder that no one is perfect.

The incident perfectly illustrated how impressionable young minds are. When a seven year-old girl hears her parents say negative things about a presidential candidate, she takes those things she hears to heart—regardless of their validity. I’m no Clinton apologist, (I voted for Bernie), but I don’t think Hillary’s a bad person. She’s done a lot to improve the lives of children in foster care and has worked for years to come up with a way to ensure that every American has access to adequate healthcare.

I will not under any circumstance vote for Hillary’s opponent—precisely because of that impressionable, seven year-old girl in my class. With my vote and my voice, I will do what I can to prevent that child from having to live in an America led by a man who brags about sexually assaulting women. A man who dismisses accusations of misconduct by saying his alleged victims are too ugly to assault. A man who calls women “pigs” and “dogs.” A man who makes sexually suggestive remarks about young girls. A man who publicly discusses and sexualizes his own daughter’s body. A man who has cheated on two wives. A man whose first wife accused him of rape.

For the sake of that seven year-old girl and for the sake of my daughter, my wife, and all of the other females in this country (and the men who love them), I will vote for Hillary Clinton on November 8.

In the meantime, I’ve got to straighten out some second-graders who think karate choppers and energy drinks are helpful people in our community.

By Travis Naughton