Kids’ Questions On This Year’s Election: ‘Do You Know What’s Going On?’

Veteran political analyst Harold Cook fields questions about this year’s wild election.  

By Joy Diaz & Hannah McBrideMarch 21, 2016 2:58 pm|

You’ve probably heard pundits and experts say this is an election year like we’ve never seen before. If the grown-ups’ heads are spinning – imagine what kids are thinking!

Veteran political expert Harold Cook takes queries from some of the younger Texans who are following the 2016 election.

Courtesy the Wilson family

Nick Wilson, 7.

“What would happen if both the presidents got a tie?” —Nick Wilson, 7.

In a presidential election, there actually can be a tie and it’s happened once, back in 1800. But the rules say there can only be one President, so in case of a tie, the U.S. House of Representatives votes to pick the President. In 1800, that’s exactly how Thomas Jefferson became the third President of the United States.

Courtesy the Green family

Shanya Green, 6.

“How old are the candidates?” —Shanya Green, 6.

You have to be 35 years old, or older, to run for President. That’s what the rules say. All the current candidates are well beyond that. Hillary Clinton is 68 years old and her opponent in the Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders, is 74. Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner, is 69 and his opponents are Ted Cruz, who is 45 (he’s the baby), and John Kasich, who’s 63. In general, however, some of them have proven themselves perfectly capable of acting your age – not theirs.

Courtesy the Arni family

Sania Arni, 13.

“If there is supposed to be a separation of church and state, then how are most conservative candidates’ beliefs considered Constitutional?” —Sania Arni, 13.

This is an excellent question and people way smarter than me have been struggling with it for many years. The basic American rulebook is the US Constitution and it both prohibits the government from supporting religion and prohibits the government from opposing religion. I personally believe that the more people learn to respect your beliefs and the more you avoid pushing your beliefs on them, the better off we all are.

“My next question is how exactly does someone run for President. Do you have to pay?” 

Sadly, yes, you have to pay – and it’s a lot. First, you have to pay to get on the ballot in 50 states. Then you have to pay literally millions of dollars to communicate with voters everywhere what you’d do if they picked you. All that money has to come from somewhere and that should worry us all.

Joy Diaz/Texas Standard

Chloe McInroy, 8.

“I have a question for Hillary Clinton. I’d like to ask her if she would run for President next year if she didn’t win this year. Because she ran against Barack Obama and she didn’t win so now she’s doing it again. I think if there was a girl President, she’d be the first girl President and that’d be pretty cool.” —Chloe McInroy, 8.

She would be the first girl President and if she didn’t win this time, she could certainly run again if she wanted to. She’s 68 years old now and by the time the next election is held, she’d be 72. The oldest President ever sworn into office was Ronald Reagan, who was 69 at the time. So her best chance to win is now.

Joy Diaz/Texas Standard

Gael Quintanilla, 7.

“What would you do to Texas?” —Gael Quintanilla, 7.

That’s a really good question because Texas depends on the federal government for a lot and the President is in charge of the federal government. Who the next President is will likely affect ours and other states with their priorities: the economy, border security, wages and jobs. There aren’t very many Texans – or Americans elsewhere – who aren’t affected, in one way or another, by the decisions a President makes and, especially, the priorities they set.

“Do you know what’s going on?” —Shanya Green, 6.

No, absolutely no one knows what’s going on. Some of the candidates have offered explanations for things that your parents wouldn’t accept from you! It makes little sense and at the age of 6, you already understand that, you’re way ahead of the game.