For our children

by Janie B. Cheaney
Posted on Monday, October 15, 2012, at 11:37 am

Have you ever heard of the AIC? I hadn’t either, until I was extended an invitation to join. As an author of books for children, I have a number of contacts in this segment of the publishing world, one of which sent me an email a few weeks ago: “A message from AIC.”

AIC is Authors and Illustrators for Children—a political action group, formed years ago when Newbery medalists Katherine Paterson and Stephanie B. Tolan collected a number of signatures for an anti-nuclear war campaign. In 2004, AIC rallied 500 to support John Kerry. In 2008 they were more than 1,000 strong for Barack Obama. “This year let’s go for 1,500!” A crisis looms: “So much depends on this election: the future of education, of healthcare, of the Supreme Court, of voter’s rights; a future for our children.”

That’s heavy. If you want to have your heartstrings tugged, check out the AIC TV ad below, where smiling children appear to find great comfort in the knowledge that “[Insert author’s name here] cares about me.” I’m not inclined to join the group, so the implication is I don’t care.

This could get me a little steamed, except that I know some of these folks, and their hearts seem to be in the right place. Authors trend toward the progressive side like most of the creative community, but while busy creating they overlook some hard facts.

If I had the money (and, frankly, the reputation) I would be tempted to produce my own TV spot where I gaze into the camera over a desk stacked with manuscripts and marker-studded books, and say:

“Kids, I care about your future, too.

“I care that cutting our defenses to the bone will result in being unprepared when an enemy strikes—as we have been so often in the past, leading to far more death and destruction.

“I care that government over-regulation has choked off innovation and entrepreneurship, meaning that great idea you had about your own business might be fined out of existence before you even start.

“I care that all the federal involvement since 1965 has done nothing for public education, and more likely has made it worse.

“I care that a significant percentage of your graduating class has been aborted, meaning that there will be fewer of you to generate the new ideas and build the new buildings and make the new discoveries—and support your parents when they retire and expect those Social Security checks.

“I care about handing you a share of the U.S. total debt worth well over $185,000 right now, and I care—in fact I’m terrified—that according to Congressional Budget Office projections, our current economy will shut down entirely by the time you first-graders reach the age of 21. What happens when you get to the future and it’s not there?”

Janie B. Cheaney

Janie is a senior writer who contributes commentary to WORLD and oversees WORLD's annual Children's Book of the Year awards. She also writes novels for young adults and authored the Wordsmith creative writing curriculum. Janie resides in rural Missouri.

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