Take back our country
Note: I'm a liberal and proud of it. So if the fact I'm a liberal offends you in any way, please do not read any further; you will not like the below.
I was mad in the election of 2000, but the most I did was join a protest on the steps of the state house and march past the governor's house. That was mostly passive too; I was downtown for a book festival and decided that I wanted to excercise my freedom of speech rather than listening to authors. Marching didn't get me anywhere other than in the company of other people who were pissed as well. Last fall, I got even more mad as I watched the sweep of the Republicans across the country and right here; not a single Democrat was elected to a position in this state last fall. Last month, Tom DeLay wanted this state redistricted, especially the city I live in -- which is the one and only Democratic enclave left in this state; suddenly, this city which is 70 percent Democratic would be split into four sections, and suddenly we'd be lumped in with rural folks, border folks who speak another language entirely, and oh yes, Republicans -- lots of them. The Democrats in this state did the only thing they could -- they walked out and escaped to Oklahoma to kill the redistricting bill. All in all, it makes me pretty anger and wanting a regime change in a bad wa y.
Yes, I understand that it's the fault of the Democrats for backing away from Clinton, for losing their way, for not appealing to the best in America. Yet, suddenly, the voters of this country handed George W. Bush a mandate and look at where it's gotten us. The economy has tanked, we have a war that is missing its raison d'etre (and don't tell me that we liberated the Iraq people from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein and that we're justified now given the mass graves that have been found -- you cannot change your reason for a war after you've already gone in and 'won' the war), and we have Yet Another Tax Cut. Faith-based initiatives, school vouchers, the ban on partial-birth abortions, the continuing erosion of Roe vs Wade, the weakening of ties with our European allies, the image of America as a 'big bully', the demeaning of the United Nations, the attack on affirmative action -- this is what the Bush administration has given us over the last two years.
Healthcare in this country is a major issue. Why doesn't it matter to you? Millions of people in the US are without health insurance. America is supposed to be the greatest country in the world, yet we cannot even agree that health care is a universal right. Why is that countries like Costa Rica, Canada and even beleagured France can give their citizens access to health care and we can't? Maybe I'm biased because in two months, I lose my health care coverage and I haven't figured out yet what I'm going to do about it. Paying $300 a month for a basic plan while being unemployed? I'll be out of money pretty quickly. It's completely ridiculous. The majority of people without healthcare are people like me -- in their twenties and thirties -- who don't make enough money to either a) pay for health insurance on their own or b) whose employers don't provide health care coverage. It's a gamble every single day. A classmate of mine broke her arm last year; it cost her $3,000 because she was uninsured -- this is a woman who had a career and is now an MBA.
Health care is just one issue that I've picked, but there are so many -- everything from balancing the budget to making sure that we don't lose any more ground on Roe vs Wade. For that reason, I decided that for 2004, I had to do more than just march with protesters. So I've officially volunteered for Governor Howard Dean's presidential bid. Yesterday, I was unbelievably happy to be with other likeminded people, to say that I thought the war with Iraq was completely out of line, especially now that no WMD have been found there. I didn't realize just how much I felt stifled for my opinions in the last five years until I was in an environment where I was completely safe and free and knew that there were others who would agree with me.
Governor Howard Dean was the governor of Vermont. In that time, he proved himself to be a fiscally responsible politician who balanced the budget, assured that 99 percent of Vermont children would have health care (and 96 percent of them do) and he did it all without raising taxes or the sales tax. If he can do it in a tiny state like Vermont, he can do it for the country. Dean is not afraid to say what he's on his mind; he's ready to bring the Democrats back together and he is willing to say the difficult things, not take the centrist path. The centrist path worked for Bill Clinton and at the time, I too was a centrist; however, this particular regime is now so far gone that I can't help but swinging even further to the left that I have been before.
So at the rally last night, I sold t-shirts and bumper stickers as a volunteer. Later on, a few of us wearing the 'Dean for President' t-shirts were selected to stand behind the Governor while he fielded questions from the media. In the four hours the rally lasted, we did brisk business. Here, in the heart of Bush country, we attracted 3,200 spectators (Dean's previous biggest rally had 120 people at it), and raised $20,000. Not shabby for a night's work. And this is without the local newspaper acknowlegding the fact that there was a rally in the first place. If you are interested in doing more for the Dean campaign, go to Dean 2004 Meetup to find other supporters and meetings in your local area. I attended the one in my city last week (which is how I got my mug on the local news channel) and met lots of great people and just felt energized and positive about the whole experience.