Listen up children, this is important stuff. More important than Angry Birds. Yes, I know that's impossible to comprehend, and that "comprehend" is a big word, but it's really really really reeeeeeeeeaaaaally important. So listen up. Yes, I know I already said that. But listen up anyway...
An election is when people choose who the next president will be. Or the next senator, congressman, mayor, councilman, police chief, superintendent, or hall monitor. It makes us feel important and gives us a feeling of making a difference. This is why they say "every vote counts". That's because every vote counts, just not counts towards winning. Some votes count just to be counted but they don't count for anything. You can count on that. If every vote really counts, then whoever is in office is who everyone wanted, so that means every vote counted. When you stand in line to choose, they call that "casting a vote".
Voting is when your mom, dad, grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle, sister or brother, neighbor, teacher and the creepy old guy that takes pictures of you at the park, run over to your school and stand in line to pull a lever or punch a button to say who they want to be our next president, senator, congressman, mayor, or city council person. The only vote that really counts is the one for everyone else *except* for the president. You see, the president is chosen by a special group of people in a secret club called the "Electoral College". They look at your mom and dad's votes and then decide how they want to vote. Only sometimes they decide to vote however they want. Kind of like when your big brother or big sister takes your bowl of ice cream and says they'll beat you up if you tell mom or dad.
Two Party System
There are two political parties, or clubs, that run for every election. One is called the Democrats. The other is called the Republicans. Neither one of them do anything except spend tons and tons and tons of money on annoying TV commercials calling the other side liars and crooks. Their job is to keep everyone busy believing that they're really going to change things, but they never do. If they ever really changed things, we wouldn't need them anymore, so they keep saying they will as long as you keep voting for them. When they don't change anything, they just blame the other side for cheating and messing things up.
The only real difference between these two parties is that one believes everything is broken and everything needs to be fixed with lots and lots of money. The other thinks nothing is broken and nothing ever needs to be fixed and that things will just fix themselves. You are probably part of what was once called the "middle class", which is the special group of people that neither of these parties care about, so you have nothing to worry about.
Special Interest Groups
This is a special name they give special people who carry around special suitcases filled with special cash. Some people call them corporate sponsors. Some call them defense contractors. Some call them late for Tee time at the golf course. But whatever they're called, these are the people who really make the decisions. You see, when Mr. or Ms. Senator is in their office and their secretary rings their phone and says they have a visitor, they look at the list and see someone like your mom or dad, and they tell the secretary to tell them they're extremely busy balancing the budget. They're really practicing their golf putt in the office while wearing nothing but a shirt and tie and underwear. When the secretary says it's Lockheed Martin, or Walmart, they drop the putter and pull up their pants and race real fast to get the office in clean shape to meet with these important people and their important bags of cash.
You see, without those special bags of special cash, they can't afford to buy those interesting and informative TV commercials that you can't wait to watch every day and night. They need those to help re-program your brain to believe their enemy (the other party guy) is a liar and a thief.
Being a politician is hard work. Much harder than brain surgery, being an airline pilot, or digging ditches. It's really tough. How tough? First off, they have to sit at a desk for an hour every day. Then they have to get up, and go to meetings and conferences and give speeches about how hard they're working. Then they have to film more TV commercials and it requires a lot of talking to tell you that his opponent is a liar and a thief and how he's changing things, but he needs your vote to keep changing things. Then they have to muster the courage to go out and play golf with those special interest people with their special golf carts filled with special bags of special money. Afterwards they go to more cocktail parties, which sound fun, but they're not! They have to "mingle" and "schmooze" with other special people so they can talk them into giving him some of their special money.
They do this ridiculously hard stuff for weeks and weeks and then they are forced to go on what's called a sabbatical. It's horrible. They have to take off half of the year and do nothing at all except get paid. It's unbelievably painful and many of them can't handle the stress. When they can't handle the hard work anymore, they tap out (like you see on TV when your dad watches UFC) and they accept an offer to go work for one of those special interest companies and are forced to get more of that special money. Most of the time though, they do their absolute best to help America and Americans by passing special laws to help those special interest people before they quit and take one of those special jobs at the special interest companies. This is called "serving the people".
Well, I hope you learned a lot about our political system. After all, it is the BEST political system in the entire world! Many people say that it's the best one that money can buy, and they aren't kidding. So be sure to get out and vote so you can help these special people keep changing things by helping those special money people. After all, this is America and every vote counts.