Let’s get this out of the way first. I know that not everybody agrees with me and I accept that. No two people have had the exact same life experiences and therefore it’s impossible for two people to share the exact same opinions on everything. This election cycle though I feel almost like people forget the reason why people make the choices that they make. So instead of talking about those choices I’m going to talk about the things that matter to me because they’re fairly straight forward.
Being a woman matters to me. The knowledge that it took a Constitutional Amendment to get me the right to vote matters to me. The fact that women fought and lost so much to gain that right to vote matters to me. It means something to me to know that no one has power over me. That no one can make decisions or life choices for me. It means something to me to think that I would get paid the same as a man for doing the same job.
Health Care matters to me. I’ve spent a good part of my life without health insurance. I’ve been forced to go to the emergency room for an ear infection because I didn’t have insurance. I’ve then had to lower myself to ask hospitals for assistance because my job didn’t pay me enough to pay the nearly five hundred dollar bill. I’ve watched season after season as my aunt suffered from crippling allergies but had to just push through the pain and the sickness because, as a caretaker, she can’t afford personal health insurance. And yes, I’ve heard the arguments against Universal Health Care. I can understand that people disdain giving their own money to pay for people who can’t pay it themselves but I believe that it’s our duty as a nation to take care of those less fortunate.
Which brings me to Social Security, Medicare, Medicade, SNAP and the myriad of programs known as Welfare. I hear many people deriding these programs saying that those who take part in Welfare programs don’t want to work and just want to milk money from hard working Americans and though I don’t agree with them I can accept their point of view for what it is. But here’s the thing, I don’t believe that 99% of the people on Welfare are on it because they want to be the way I often hear the complaints go. I believe that most people who receive public assistance receive it because it’s either that or their kids don’t eat. It’s either that or their power gets turned off. It’s either that or they’re one of the millions of homeless in America.
Education matters to me. I went to school to BE a teacher. A lot of the time I think like a teacher. But I’m not a teacher. I’m not a teacher because I don’t know that I could survive seeing program after program taken out of schools because of budget cuts. I don’t know if I could survive seeing standardized testing that only accurately shows a small percentage of students’ achievement looked at as the be all end all. Schools need more money. I’ll leave the teacher pay argument for someone else because EVERYONE makes more than I do right now. But I can’t look past the facts that most school districts are underfunded and understaffed. I can’t look past the fact that schools are losing important extra-curricular especially in the arts. There is little more important than the education of the youth and yet each year we get more and more behind. It’s time to realize that what’s being done isn’t working and try something that might work.
The environment matters to me. And it’s long past time that we stopped killing the planet in order to squeeze out more profits for already bloated corporations. And while I recognize the need for energy independence in America I do not believe that it should be done with complete disregard to environmental issues the way that it has been in the past.
I can hear the arguments now. Our country is dealing with a crippling national debt how do you think we could pay for all these things you’re talking about? And I wish I had an answer but I’m not an economist. I don’t know the answers. I just know what I feel. It’s why I’ll never be a politician or a political pundit. I don’t know how to fix the problems I just know that they need to be fixed.
I am a (fairly) young woman. The first president I remember is the first President Bush. I lived through a time when the world seemed to change every day. And, for a while, it looked like it was changing in good ways. I remember this overwhelming sense of possibility attached to the world I grew up in. But somewhere that world twisted. I’m not sure when or where though I’m sure that there are those who would attach it to that cool morning in September eleven years ago. But some time. Somewhere. The world stopped feeling like it was about possibilities and started feeling like it was about limitations. Yeah, I’m sure that part of it was growing up and being divested of those rosey hued glasses that all extremely young people tend to wear but it isn’t just me. And it isn’t just people my age. I don’t know, maybe I’m still living in the shadow of those rose-colored glasses and disappointed that the world isn’t the place I wanted it to be. But if I’m living there, I’m certainly not alone.