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Kristen

Is a Political Balloon Just a Balloon?

Posted by Kristen on June 7, 2010 at 7:30 AM in Activism
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balloon.gifI was selling my wares at a local fair when my husband and children stepped into my little 10 foot by 10 foot booth. I looked down to find my children covered from head to toe with stickers bearing the name of a local politician running for reelection. They each clutched balloons with the candidate's name upon them in bold lettering.

I looked at my husband in disbelief.

K: WHY are your children wearing THESE stickers and holding these balloons?

Let me start by saying my moral superiority was openly misplaced. It wasn't my district. It wasn't my politician. But I knew of this politician and he did not represent the values I espouse. Or my husband's values, for that matter. This is the time of year for campaigning and everywhere we go this summer, politicians will be out shaking hands and kissing babies. Apparently some will have balloons.

D: He had balloons. The other guy didn't have balloons. The kids wanted balloons.

People are very passionate about politics these days. Having sat around doing next to nothing for much of our lives, our generation finds itself with lots of opinions, causes and avenues to express them. That's cool. Express yourself. If you want to cover the entire back of your car with this or that, I am all for it unless you also clog the left lane doing 10 miles below the speed limit. Then I associate your causes with negative things rather than that neutral stance I feel when I see a bumper-sticker laden car.

But handing out balloons to kids? Is a balloon just a balloon or is it a little odd for a child to be making a political statement? I was already creeped out by Politician A walking down the street asking if kids wanted candy from the bucket he was carrying. The guy must not have kids or he would know that many a mother would vote against him just because he gave her child candy from a bucket in the middle of the morning.

Why can't politicians do it the old fashioned way? Candidates driving down the street during a parade, riding in a convertible borrowed from the local car dealership, and hurling fistfuls of candy in the direction of the kid-infested curbs? Now there are balloons? Don't get me wrong. I have always wanted balloons with my name on them. How awesome would that be?

Last election we were a divided household with our five year old voting for one candidate and his parents voting for another. It did not matter since he cannot vote anyway but I imagine he would like to have had his views represented by his parents (more candy, later bedtimes for everyone!). I'd like to think that politics is about the beliefs and values of your politician, but maybe it really is about the stickers and balloons. What do you think?

5 Comments

Amber writes...

I'm Canadian, and our campaigns are much shorter. Typically, the whole thing lasts around a month or so before the election. So I think we get a little less electioneering, just because time is more limited.

Having said that, I do find the idea of a politician targeting my children to be a bit odd. Even a politician I support. After all, my children can't vote. It seems contrived to be handing them balloons.

Mary Ellen writes...

It does sound a little underhanded by the polly. Did he make the balloons into balloon animals? Because that would be cool!! But that would make him a clown---perfect!! :)

Jess writes...

Definitely intentional marketing on the part of the politician, and pretty par for the course these days. Many parents choose to advertise their beliefs on their kids' tee shirts, even making their own if none are commercially available, so I don't consider this an egregious move on his part, but he's definitely being part of the solution, either.

I think what would have bugged me most was that my kids were acting as walking billboards for somebody whose values are contrary to my own. No thanks, here's your balloon back.

C writes...

Wow. When I was 9 years old I got stickers and buttons during an election, (Nixon/Agnew). It didn't hurt me at all, in fact I paid attention to politics and the history in the making around me, and now I'm much more politically savvy then most people. What's the harm? You can (and should) use the situation to discuss civics: maybe view schoolhouse rock "I'm just a bill", the duty of voting, and paying attention to what "we the people" are doing, since We The People are the government, empowered by us, the voters-- not to propagandize your children.

Tara writes...

I would wear the sticker of any guy giving out candy. Especially if he was as influential as some of the people you are related to.

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