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The one, and probably only, gubernatorial debate is over. The campaign ads are increasing as the days to the November 2014 midterm elections dwindle down.
Pundits say the number of votes that will determine the leadership (and I use the term loosely) of the Senate and House will be determined by a number of voters fewer in number than the population of Florida. The key to victory – who best turns out the vote.
Unfortunately, if history holds true for midterm elections, the GOP has the advantage, but history doesn’t have to repeat itself. They are playing on the fears of a few (immigration, gay marriage, Ebola, ISIS) and anti-Obama sentiments, not issues. Using access to dollars allowed by corporate citizenship thanks to “Citizens United,” they’re running slick media campaigns, avoiding answering questions from “we the people” in town hall meetings and debates. And by all accounts, they have a strong chance at pulling this off.
How can this be? Voter apathy, a lack of caring among voters in the electoral process, or is it voter fatigue? Fatigue from the continued fighting in Washington and political gridlock. Turn on the “tube,” and yes, things at times look very bleak, but let’s separate fact from fiction.
There has been progress nationally and locally. On the jobs front, the national unemployment rate is about 5.9 percent, with 55 months of consecutive private sector job growth and 10.3 million private sector jobs created, including jobs created or saved right here in Michigan because of the Recovery Act. The Federal deficit in 2014 is 2.8 percent of GDP (the average under Ronald Reagan: 4.2 percent)
Approximately 10.3 million adults have gained insurance under the first year of Obamacare. In Michigan. This means senior citizens who benefitted from the closing of Medicare “donut holes” and young adults under 26 years of age who can stay on their parents’ coverage. For women, the annual cost for birth control under AFA-compliant policies dropped to zero. For women, access to birth control is not just a health care issue but an economic issue as well.
And for the LGBTQ community, the advances have been life changing. From extension by the federal government of key benefits to same-sex couples to the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to the declaration that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional and would no longer be defended in court and beyond – these have been historic times.
It hasn’t been perfect. There have been stumbles, missteps and times when the Administration has been slow to action, but it’s gotten better. One can only imagine with a Senate, and especially a Congress, focused more on the welfare of the American people than partisan politics and holding on to the status quo for the power elite, how much more we could have accomplished.
Our LGBTQ victories in the courts have been due, in part, to Presidential appointments. Partisan politics have restricted President Obama’s ability to make appointments, including those in the courts and even potentially to the Supreme Court.
We need action on immigration, climate change, civil rights, voting rights and continued progress for all families, especially LGBTQ ones. We need to move forward in this new day, not return to the days of fear, bias and inequality.
We can’t be fooled by the ads, the hype and the lies from those who have said “NO” again and again. Who have repeatedly denied equality to the poor, immigrants, communities of color and LGBTQ Americans. Elected officials who understand this will change their views and do what’s best for all Americans if we send them to state capitals and Washington in November’s election.
If we vote, we win. It’s that simple. Not going to the polls Nov. 4 is not an option, but it is an action – an action against our own welfare and the future.
What matters to you? What really matters – equality, freedom, community, family? And if it really matters, take a stand on Nov. 4 at the polls and make a difference.
I was asked recently why I vote. I haven’t missed an election since I was old enough to vote and was registered to vote before I had a driver’s license. I was asked to share these thoughts on Urban Nation Radio, and after a little thought, I wrote the following:
I Vote Because
By Michelle E. Brown
Because they had no voice
When brought over in those chains.
Sold, beaten, traded
Eyes cast down shuffling by
As they silently swallowed pride.
Because they rode the back of the bus
Having services denied.
Colored toilets, colored fountains
Suffering indignities just to get by.
Because they marched for freedom
While being beaten and knocked down
Water cannons, dog bites, night sticks
To deny their civil rights.
Because their voices were silenced
Before they could make their mark
Four little girls in Birmingham
For black, brown and queer babies yet to come
I vote to make a difference
I vote to make a change
I vote for this imperfect union
I vote in all their names.
Because of them it matters
For me to be a part of the game
Not sitting on the sidelines
To cast aspersions and merely complain
I might not see the difference
Or live to see the change
But because of them I do it
I vote so their lives were not in vain.
Find your reason and vote this November. To borrow from the United Negro College Fund, a vote is a terrible thing to waste.