on August 1, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Book review: “See How They Run”

Are you a Republican or a Democrat?

That’s not a silly a question. Someday, in a few years or so, you’ll be able to cast your vote for Congressman, Mayor, school board, or even for President. You may then have to decide if you’re Republican, Democrat, or neither.

Someday – maybe now – you’ll want to know about how our election process works. With the Republican and Democratic National Conventions coming up soon, this is a great time to learn. Ask your Mom or Dad to get “See How They Run” by Susan E. Goodman and Elwood H. Smith for you. With this book at your side, you’ll understand all the politicking you’ll see this year.

Historians think that ancient people had elections but there’s really no way to be sure. What we do know is that our country’s Founding Fathers set up our government with checks and balances and a voting system that is a little confusing. We have an electoral college and no, that’s not at all like the university nearby.

With Electoral College, each state gets a certain amount of electors based on the state’s population. The people tell the elector who to vote for, and the electors elect the president. Believe it or not, depending on population, a candidate can win the election even if he (or she) loses in over half the states!

But long before they get that far, candidates have to endure primaries. Campaigning is expensive so they have to ask for donations or take public money. They have to make speeches and shake thousands of hands. They’ll put up with dirty tricks and maybe even play some of their own. They have to be careful to say the right thing and do what they say they’ll do. And when it comes time to cast a ballot, they have to be sure to vote for themselves because there have been elections lost by just one vote.

But you’re a kid. What can you do to influence local and national politics? Bug your parents to vote. Attend public meetings to learn about local government. Invite your mayor to speak to your class this fall. Find out who represents you in Congress and write letters. Remember that Democracy starts with people like you.

The cover of “See How They Run” really makes it look like it’s kids-only. The truth is, though, adults who pick up this fun book can surely learn a thing or two about how our election process works.

In easy-to-understand terms, authors Susan E. Goodman and Elwood H. Smith make politics easy. I truly appreciated their simple explanation on the Electoral College, and it was nice to have a comprehensive overview of the Hanging Chad hoo-ha of 2000 (something kids won’t remember). The trivia at the back of the book, as well as the resources wrapped everything up nicely.

Buy this book for your 7-to-15-year-old but read it yourself, too. For current voters or future politicians, “See How They Run” is a book to run and get.