Friday, October 17, 2014

What's In It for Me?

Corporations and their right-wing patsies have figured out that the way to win is to make it all about us, even though it's really not.  They make all their pitches about what we have to gain, and more important, what we have to lose, if we don't vote for them.  Those of us who don't vote often believe that it won't make a difference, that both parties are the same, that nobody represents them.  When we Democrats fail, it is often because we waffle about our principles so that we don't offend anyone, or we talk about them too broadly so they become meaningless to people who are struggling with day to day problems.

There are a lot of differences between the parties and the candidates, and they are not abstract.  They reflect the issues we are struggling with every day.  Who gets elected in November is going to determine in very real terms whether our lives will get better or we will just get by.  This election affects dramatically every person of every age.

So here it is, the pitch:

College graduates:  Republicans are opposed to allowing the refinancing of student loans, forcing graduates to carry high-interest rate loans for years.  This means being strapped with debt before they have even been able to make their way in the workforce.  The high interest loans involved are either owned or guaranteed by the federal government, so this is money that our government is making from what should be an investment in a student's future.  Debt from everything from mortgages to credit cards can be refinanced.  Big banks are allowed to borrow at 0 percent from the government.  Why are students forced to pay exorbitant rates on their loans?  Because the Republicans do not want to increase taxes on the millionaires and billionaires that fund their campaigns.

Women:  Oh, so many issues are so critical for the well-being of women in South Carolina.  Our state and federal legislators continue to force votes that would prevent women from accessing affordable birth control.  Preventing women from having family planning will result in not just unplanned pregnancies, but the stress involved with not being able to control decisions about college, jobs and marriage.  It will result in job insecurity.  Men should be outraged that legislators would remove from the family decisions that so directly effect emotional and financial well-being.

Parents:  School choice is the pseudonym for privatizing.  Basically all the many schemes offered provide inadequate financial allotments to most while the wealthy can continue to send their children to the expensive private schools. This false promise also drains money from a public school system that has never been funded adequately here in South Carolina.

Seniors:  Republican fear mongering about Social Security and Medicare is also all about privatization.  Back in the '80's, social security cuts were enabled by the promise of IRA's, which were supposed to herald in a future of wealth and prosperity, but actually just made us all vulnerable to the greed and speculation of Wall Street.  This false promise also allowed corporations to bargain away our pensions.  Cuts to Medicare have and will continue to damage a system that was once a great safety net, forcing seniors to spend more on health care at a time when they should not have to worry about whether they will be able to pay to survive.

So many issues:

Food Stamps:  Too many people are working and not earning a living wage.  Food stamps not only feeds the poor, but keeps dollars flowing in our communities.

Medicaid:  Not wanting everyone to have health insurance is just plain cruel.  But it is also stupid.  Even without the panic over Ebola, the inability to treat a medical problem before a contagion spreads, or a treatable illness becomes terminal, is costly as well as inhumane.  And again, providing health care also provides jobs to our communities.

Minimum Wage:  All the arguments against raising the minimum wage are really about not wanting to raise the wages of those who are making more than minimum.  Because Republicans really do know that a rising tide lifts all boats.  What they really don't want to see is all wages rise in response to the raise in the minimum wage.  Greedy and stupid?  Sure, but these are the politics we have been suffering under since the 80's.  If you are not working for minimum wage, and you're still struggling, you should be fighting -- and voting -- for raising the minimum wage.  And again, raising the minimum wage puts more dollars into the pockets of those who will spend it in their communities.  So if you are a business person, you too should be wanting everyone in your community to be making a living wage.

Voting Rights:  We all know people who won't be voting because they are afraid they will be confronted (and embarrassed) at the polls.  Let's get out there and vote to protect everybody's rights and elect people who will not need to use intimidation to win.

Gun Control:  Those who are most vulnerable in general tend to live in areas where there is more danger of gun violence.  The Second Amendment argument is pure nonsense.  But the mostly republican lawmakers who refuse to make the streets safe for all our citizens need to be voted out of office.  Our police officers should be voting for legislators who support reasonable gun controls; their lives are on the line as well.  And with shootings by officers in the news, we know that the more guns on the streets, the more stressful the job, and the more likely they will have to live (or die) based on a split second decision.

I could go on and on.  There are so many issues that really do affect us every single day.  I urge our candidates to talk to people not about issues that don't seem relevant to them, but to relate the legislation they would pursue to what it means for each of us, every day.  And when we talk to others about the upcoming election, if we talk about how each issue ripples out to affect us all, we might just motivate people to get out and vote.

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