I’ve brought my kids along with me to vote in every election since 2008 (even the midterms, even the random city elections).

Maddie rocking the vote
Maddie in 2008.

Annie rocks the vote
Annie in 2012.

annabel rocks the vote
Annie yesterday (James was playing with Gramma, he’ll come along in November).

I think it’s important to set a good example for my kids when it comes to voting since it’s a very important part of the political process — one that, unfortunately, not enough people participate in.

Annabel is old enough this year to have a lot of questions about voting and the primary process. It’s been a challenge to explain to her the wildly divergent ways our states and parties elect representatives, although it’s forced me to become a lot more educated about our crazy electoral system. It’s far too confusing and antiquated and, in some states, not at all democratic (I’m looking at you, caucuses).

I’m glad that Annabel is too young to see how divisive this election has been over the last year. She sees people holding signs and cheering and wearing buttons and thinks it’s all exciting and rosy. I wish that were true. The passion people have for their candidates is great but the hatred and nastiness are not.

I don’t think it’s a secret which candidate I prefer, but I respect everyone’s choice (even if you’re voting for that guy who blocked me on twitter) and I hope you’ll respect mine. I’m not campaigning for a candidate here — instead, I’m lobbying for treating each other the way we’d like to be treated, and focusing on positives. Respect and kindness for each other is what this primary season has sorely lacked, and I know it’s wishful thinking to hope that it will settle down for the general election, but I’m going to hope for it anyway.

Yesterday was a special day for me and I’m glad I got to share it with my daughter, even if she doesn’t fully understand the historical significance. She says she wants to be President someday. If she runs, I’ll be more excited to vote for her than Leslie Knope was to vote for herself. But if it doesn’t, I’m excited that she thinks it’s possible.