Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Why I care about this stuff

PhotobucketI've written a lot here about politics over the past few months -- too much, probably. This blog even got mis-assigned to the "political blogs" category on some Mormon blog aggregator. Well, whatever.

I care about politics. Some of that care is more abstract, I suppose. I care, for example, when people are tortured in the name of America. I care when the American president, vice-president, secretary of defense, secretary of state, and other officials high and low are involved in war crimes. I care when a presidential administration, with the enthusiastic support of a political party, tramples everything that America stands for into the mud and then has the unmitigated gall to question the patriotism of anyone who opposes them. I care a lot about things like that.

But those things don't really affect me directly. Yes, those events have made me feel ashamed of my country, angry at the perpetrators, and sorry for the victims. But I've never been tortured nor been the victim of a war crime, nor am I ever likely to be. Most likely, there is enough of a remnant of respect for law in this country that they'll never come for me.

But there are aspects of politics that affect me, that change my life. Health care policy is an issue that directly affects my quality of life. I don't have health insurance. In some ways, that's because of my choices. I chose to be self-employed, to make a modest living at something I'm good at, to spend time at home with my children, and to give them the stability of spending their entire childhoods in one small city. I chose that instead of pursuing some big-city corporate career in which I'd never thrive, but which would provide me with some sort of health insurance when I managed to stay employed.

The thing is, though, that's the kind of choice that no other developed country requires its citizens to make. In no other developed country is getting or keeping health insurance a factor in career decisions. Every other developed country has national health insurance. Every single one. If you live there, you can have health insurance. If you get sick, you just go to the doctor. No one has to avoid treatment because he can't afford it. No one in any other developed country goes bankrupt because of medical costs. Never. It's literally impossible.

And I know we can do that here. This is America, FFS. There's no reason not to do it. No reason, that is, except for discredited right-wing ideology, the foolish, often disproved yet never discarded belief in magical markets that can fix every problem. Well, to hell with that, to hell with the political party that promotes that nonsense, and to hell with the candidates it rode in on.

So excuse me for "personalizing" politics, but this is personal for me. This isn't just a game for me. It's not just "My tribe is better than your tribe." It's real life. It's my life: certainly no better and maybe worse with McCain, or possibly better with Obama. It may be the difference between having to move to Canada or back to Japan to have the kind of life I want, or staying in the country I love.

Yes, I know Obama isn't the Messiah. He can be politically opportunistic. He caved on FISA. He kowtowed to AIPAC. His health care plan isn't actually all that great. But it's a start, a step in the right direction. That, and his tax plan, could go a long way towards improving my life.

And one more thing, while I'm on the subject of reasons to vote for Obama. Twenty, 30, 40 years from now, your children or grandchildren may say to you, "Remember back when everyone thought no black person could be president, but then Obama got elected? What was that like?" What will you say to them: "Yes, I voted for Obama, you know..." or "Um, actually, I voted for that other guy..."? Be on the right side of history. Vote for Obama.

1 comment:

What do you think?