Catherine Anaya

Son’s up on political landscape

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After a bitterly fought election both nationally and across our state, voters seemed unanimous in their disdain for the negative tone of the political ads.

But a civics lesson for my nine-year-old son actually came from those ads.

A few weeks before the election, he asked me to explain the role of a U.S. Senator. I did so and explained how one of Arizona’s U.S. Senators was retiring so that the seat was up for grabs. He exclaimed, “Oh, I know who’s running for that, Richard Carmona and Jeff Flake.” I was blown away that he knew their names. “How did you know that?” I asked. “From their ‘commercials’ on TV,” he answered.

We talked about the purpose of political ads and then he asked why they were “so mean.”

 I loved his intrigue and curiosity. 

He saw me studying a binder of facts pertaining to the election and got a kick out of seeing that  “mommy has homework too!,” something he shared with his class when his teacher talked about the voting process.

I was thrilled to see him engage in the political process; it got my mind swirling. “Perhaps I’ve got a future political consultant, political writer or a presidential candidate,” I thought to myself. Okay, I was getting a little ahead of myself, but you get the idea.   

On election eve, he asked if I’d be voting in the morning. He was disappointed to learn I had already voted by mail a few weeks earlier. So I promised to take him by a polling place election morning on our way to school. A wonderful volunteer at the polling station walked him through the voting process and he left with a greater understanding and an “I Voted Today” sticker. 

On election night I was on the air with election results and updates every half hour, so I didn’t have much time to talk with the kids by phone. 

At about 8 p.m., I got this e-mail from my daughter about my son:

“[He] is obsessed with this election. He’s updating me every five seconds and hasn’t taken his eyes off the TV. And he’s asking me about Obama and Romney’s policies and deciding which ones he agrees with. It’s so funny. He totally understands it too.”

I can’t tell you how happy it made me that my nine-year-old son could get so involved in the election process at such a young age; that he could actually want to read up on each presidential candidate’s policies and positions on issues; that he asked to visit a polling station. These are solid reminders of a simple lesson that our children are not too young to learn: the right to vote is a privilege that we should never take for granted.

Catherine Anaya anchors CBS 5 News weeknights at 5, 5:30, 6 and 10 p.m. She is a mother of two, marathon runner and motivational speaker. Reach her at, connect with her on Facebook, twitter and at

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