Maybe First Graders Should Run the Government

Future world leader and her fighting Beta fish, Cupcake
Future world leader and her fighting Beta fish, Cupcake

I don’t want to get into a huge political discussion on a Friday, but I”m sure everyone is well aware of the US government shut down this week. I also don’t need to get into the reasons why in great detail, but basically, the United States government can’t seem to practice good life and financial skills that many first graders know. I’ll use my own darling 6 year old as a prime example of why maybe first graders should be running the government. We learned lots from her in kindergarten, and now, here are some recent conversations from a first grader’s point of view.


On Tuesday morning Jim and I were discussing the government shutdown when our daughter asked a few questions. Here is that conversation.

Daughter: “What is the government, Mommy?’

Me: “It’s the President and the people elected to run our country. They spent more money than they had and had to close up because they are broke.”

Daughter: “Well that’s stupid. You can’t buy things if you don’t have enough money! You remember that show we used to watch? (Referring to Suze Orman before we cancelled our satellite TV) Maybe they need to watch Suze. She can show them how to save some money.”

Brilliant! Don’t spend more than you earn, and get advice if you don’t know how to do something.

Sticky Subjects

Politicians seem to shy away from sticky subjects or blame the other party if the answer might be controversial in any way. First graders just get right to the point and don’t avoid topics, even if the talking about them might adults squirm. They also find a matter of fact answer for any situation. For example, this was the conversation we had recently after driving past a place that makes gravestones.

Daughter: “What are those, Mommy?

Me“Those are called tombstones. When you die, if you are buried in a cemetery, you can have one put by your grave with your name on it.”

Daughter: “Are you going to get one, Mommy?”

Me:  “Well, I’m not planning on dying for a long time, but when I die, I want to be cremated. That’s where they put you in an oven and your body turns to ashes. Your soul is already gone up to heaven, so it doesn’t matter what they do with your body, and I don’t want to be buried in the ground.”

I thought we’d closed that subject until we drove past the gravestone place again.

Daughter: “There’s that place that makes gravestones, but you don’t want one. You want to be baked when you die.”

See, no shying away from difficult topics with first graders!

Tough on Crime

Often, the government seems to be too soft on criminals. First graders would never have that problem. When were in Portland this summer, we were enjoying a walk down by the river when a boy ran up and threw a bottle into the water. We thought we would use this as an example of what not to do.

Jim: “You see that? That is a terrible thing to do. It pollutes the water, hurts the fish, and makes things look ugly. Besides, it’s against the law to litter.”

A few days later as we were driving across Oregon, we passed a state penitentiary. This was the conversation about that.

Daughter: “What is that thing?”

Me: “That’s the state jail. It’s where people go when they break the law and get arrested.”

Daughter: “Yeah, like when they throw bottles in the river.”

There you have it. No one would commit any crimes with the wrath of first graders out to punish them.

I’m not sure what I did for entertainment before I had a child. Some of the things they say are so funny, yet profound in their sense and simplicity. I’m not sure when we lose those qualities, but it might make for better government if politicians could remember some lessons from first grade.

What are some great things you’ve heard kids say in relation to current events? Should they lower the age to run for elected office?

Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, of course, writing. She is currently the editor-in-chief of


  1. I would just like to see politicians do what they say they are going to do when they were elected. It seems that important part of politics is to say what is necessary to get elected and do what they want after that.

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