This Friday, January 20 at noon, America will have a new President. Now unless you’ve been in a cave or under a rock for the past year, year-and-a-half, you know that opinions are quite divided about the new President.

Aren’t we lucky to live in a country where we can have such diverse opinions and still function?!

There is not, nor has there ever been, a country where everyone is not only allowed, but encouraged to disagree. There are still many places where similar disagreements can end your life.

The Presidential election provides our schools with the unique opportunity to give students a front row seat on how our democratic republic functions.

I wonder how many take advantage of the opportunity? Given some of the blank faces I get when I have referred to the electoral process with my tutoring students, I fear the opportunity is lost to many.

Each day I hear words and phrases used – and abused – on television, radio and the Internet that confirm far too many students have reached maturity with a total lack of understanding about how their country works.

One theme that I have heard repeatedly is that we are a democracy and every vote is supposed to count as much as every other vote.

Well, no, we are not. The United States is a representative democracy, or more specifically a constitutional republic. We elect individuals to write and pass laws. By the same token, we elect representatives who proportionally represent us to elect a President and Vice President.

I have been saddened by the many uninformed persons who have claimed that the President-elect was, in fact, not elected. No, he did not win the popular vote, but he did win 30 of the 50 states.

The difference in popular vote total could be attributed to just a couple of counties in southern California.

But this is not about who won or did not win the Presidential election. It is about educating our children.

There is no other country on Earth where the transfer of power happens so peacefully as it does in the United States. And we know that does not necessarily mean those passing or receiving are thrilled about it!

What is important about the transfer is that we understand how and why it happens.

This brings me to my concern.

If my students’ reactions and the outcry of many Americans are representative of the level of understanding of the electoral process, then we are in a lot of trouble!

Have you discussed the election with your children who are old enough to understand the process? Are you complaining about it when you may not really understand it?

There’s an old saying that if one doesn’t learn from history, they are doomed to repeat it.

I would hate to think that we have one or more generations that do not understand how our government, nor our elections work.

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