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Since this is an election year, I thought I’d spread a little democracy to the freedom-starved peoples of DadCentric. From time to time, we’ll be featuring posts by contributing Guest Dads (and yes, I’m looking for submissions, so feel free to send ’em to petcobra@gmail.com). I’m pleased to present the following from Christopher Harder. Chris is a veteran journalist who left his job as an editor at the Wall Street Journal’s website to join the ranks of the stay-at-home-dads. Here’s his take on the current presidential hopefuls, and how the Youth Vote in his home has swayed his opinion…

A Diaper Change We Can Believe In
by Christopher Harder

Rumor has it there’s a presidential campaign going on.

It looks like it’s getting pretty interesting, too. Only three major candidates are left, and even they might get whittled down to two soon. That means no more of those pesky minor candidates gumming up the debates.

It also means the campaign will be easier for me to follow. I used to make a living covering the news. Now I stay home all day caring for my two-and-a-half-year-old son, Nicholas. I change diapers, do laundry, make meals and treat illnesses. I’m lucky if I can glance at a couple of newspapers and hear the radio news roundup over my son’s pleas to play with him.

I don’t watch the evening news because that’s bath time. I don’t watch the late news because I’m usually in bed exhausted by 10. Sometimes I watch a campaign video on YouTube during Nicholas’s naptime, but nothing longer than a sound bite.

Still, I care about the election. Now that my life revolves around my son, I care most about family issues. The economy and the Iraq war may be grabbing the headlines, but where do the candidates stand on family leave and work flexibility?

I headed to their Web sites to find out. Hey, it’s quicker than sitting through the debates.

Hillary Clinton’s homepage has a section called “Supporting Parents and Caring for Children.” That has a nice ring to it. Barack Obama has a section titled “Family.” It sounds like he cares. John McCain has a “Human Dignity” section – a bit vague.

They all have commendable things to say. Clinton’s Web site mentions stay-at-home parents. I like that. She wants to offer grants to allow them to stay at home. She also mentions fathers. I like that, too. She says they shouldn’t be fired for taking care of their children. Obama wants to help states set up paid family-leave programs, and he supports flexibility in telecommuting and working part-time. Sounds good. McCain discusses noble concepts such as the importance of the family in strengthening communities.

I still couldn’t decide who made the most sense. Then I realized my most valuable adviser was right next to me in the booster seat. Nicholas would be “the decider.” He always manages to pick up on two particular words when he hears them during radio newscasts:

“That man said ‘Barack Obama,’” Nicholas says each time he hears the name. He’s a toddler who’s made up his mind about the election, even if his key issue is that “Barack Obama” is more fun to say than “Hillary Clinton” or “John McCain.”

Maybe Nicholas isn’t so different from many people who are actually old enough to vote. I wonder how many simply don’t have the time to follow a campaign closely, and ultimately decide based on a gut feeling — or a candidate’s name. This may be especially true in a contest where the names Clinton and Barack Hussein Obama have stirred up such emotions.

As for me, it’s time to change another diaper. Now there’s a change I can believe in.