For those of you who don’t know me personally, I need to confess something: I’m fascinated by politics. We had a primary vote this past week in Pennsylvania, so I’ve had several political issues on my mind. However, I find that when I try to bring up politics with people, many are annoyed by the idea of discussing these topics, and they also do not see the importance of voting. While I fully respect someone’s choice to disagree with my opinions on policy, I do not support anyone’s decision to disengage from the democratic process. In order for our government and laws to work at their best, it requires all of us to participate. Here is why I think politics, and way more importantly, policy, should matter to all of us.
Let me start the first part of this series by painting a picture of how politics and policy affect me personally. As a musician, public policy helps shapes my career: I’m a small business owner, so I’m subject to meticulous tax rules, business regulations, and more difficult access to healthcare.
But my personal life has an even deeper connection to public policy:
I grew up low income
I’m a woman
I’m a lesbian
I work in the arts and in education
I have a substantial amount of student debt (Student Loan Forgiveness saves me about $500/month)
My partner has a serious pre-existing health condition for which she requires regular medications and sporadic surgical procedures
I don’t have healthcare through my job (The ACA saves me $400/month and protects my partner’s access to health care as someone with a pre-existing condition)
I deeply believe in social justice and the power of resources to change someone’s circumstance
I have friends in the military
I do not identify as a mainstream evangelical Christian
The high school I attended fell victim to a school shooting
It’s so difficult for me not to feel as though so much of politics is, in fact, personal. Countless policy decisions made at the local, state, and federal level directly affect nearly every aspect of my life. This leads to questions that circle in my head on an almost daily basis:
Will my partner and I still be allowed to marry and/or adopt children after new Supreme Court justices are appointed and may be able to overturn marriage equality?
Will the underserved youth I work with have access to the quality education they need to rise above their given circumstance?
Will my student loan debt be too great an obstacle to overcome in my pursuit to make a better life for myself and my future family?
Will my partner and I spend the rest of our lives together trapped under medical debt?
Will my sisters’ kids, my kids, your kids, grow up in a world where hateful speech and sexual assault are tolerated?
Will our freedom of religion be threatened out of fear?
Will sensible gun control measures that are adhered to by the rest of the western world ever be enacted here in America in order to prevent the epidemic of mass shootings?
Will my friends in the military be sent to a war they don’t believe in?
I understand that these concerns seem a little dramatic to some, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a worrier by nature. However, I also fall into several categories of disadvantage that these nay-sayers may not understand. Again, no one should have to apologize for having a different background or belief than me, but I do think it’s crucial to explain some of my concerns in order to reach common ground and better understand why policy matters to someone like me. Politics are personal. Policy matters; therefore, elections and voting matter.
I will save my other defenses of the democratic process for my next blog, in which I’ll further break down my argument for the importance of voting. I want to end this blog with one thought: apathy and complacency may be the two biggest threats to a free and safe society.
I respect the vote, even when I’m not happy with the results. I believe we need to be reflective and hold our leaders to a standard worthy of the America we know and love; one of the best ways to do that is by voting and getting involved in the political process. We should all be proactive in helping to create the America we want to see.
Thank you to EVERYONE (no matter who you vote for) for voting. It’s always amazing to see so many people get involved in our beautiful democratic process. And thank you so much to our polling place volunteers that work tirelessly to make this process available to us.
I hope and pray for the best, for every single American. By design, this place is for ALL OF US.