CALLING ALL POLITICAL CANDIDATES
This is an open letter to anyone seeking elected office in any race in which I may vote. I have a few suggestions for you if you want my endorsement.
First of all, in a national race, I will not vote for any candidate who does not clearly offer an exit strategy for Iraq. This does not include the standard, "I want the troops home as soon as possible, but for the time being we have to keep towing the line." No. I want a concrete plan. I want to know when you plan to end the U.S. occupation and I want to know when I can expect to see celebrating in the streets as our brave men and women rejoin their families once again. And I won't support an exit that begins to bring the majority of troops home two or three years from now. While I would like immediate withdrawal, I understand that won't happen. So I'm thinking that drawing down needs to begin by the end of 2006.
I want a public commitment from you that if elected you will make it a top priority not only to bring the majority of U.S. troops home, but you must vow not to support a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq. Why such a concept is even on the table I have no idea. Are they smoking crack in the Pentagon? Just what the Iraqi people need - the U.S. military on one side of the street and the "Insurgency" on the other with no end in sight. Oil or no oil - permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq are not the answer. We started this war on false pretenses, we claim that we will leave the country upon a stable government being established - let's not show the world we are liars once again.
Second, I will not support a candidate who does not pledge to make creating a national living wage a priority. I think it is appalling to expect people in this country to live and support their families on $5.15 an hour. Are they crazy? It's really easy to bitch about the welfare system when you're sitting in an office bringing home $100,ooo a year. Welfare pays better than a minimum wage job! Where's the incentive to work? I believe that if given real opportunities for employment, jobs that provide healthcare, good pay, subsidies for daycare and the chance for advancement - the majority of people would choose to work. It's good for the soul to feel like you're accomplishing something. While some of us say it would be nice to just sit around all day and do nothing, what we really want is to have a job that we love, that we can put our heart into, that we can be happy about going to day in and day out and a job that doesn't require us to ignore our families in order to make any kind of promotion.
Which leads me to my third condition - I will throw all of my support and work for any candidate who makes the well-being of families a top priority. Things are so backward in this country. We work our fingers to the bone so that we suffer from heart disease, ulcers, fatigue, stress disorders - doesn't it seem like everyone is taking a pill for something these days? And yet all of this work is done not for the betterment of our loved ones, but to try and satisfy the greed of Corporate America. Where are the benefits? Paying obscene amounts for healthcare? Having retirement plans go belly up when we're ready to retire? Women, who bear the responsibility and the sheer joy, of bearing children aren't guaranteed any kind of paid maternity leave. In fact, mothers are guaranteed three months of unpaid leave and if you don't come back after that - well, no one has to hold your job for you and if you do come back there are no concessions made for your new status as a parent. Considering that more than 90% of industrialized nations have some kind of paid maternity leave laws on the books that often include both parents, this is one area in particular where America lags far behind. And why? Because CEOs and Boards of Trustees and stockholders demand more money. Why invest in the future when you can get your cash now! How about because without your employees you don't get anything.
Fourth, I would like to see a candidate who has a realistic plan for a national health care system. As it currently stands, the private insurance sector is a mess. Patients are being nickeled and dimed, hospitals are charging obscene amounts for their services and doctors are caught between giving their patients the treatments that are most beneficial and providing what is covered by their insurance plans. Every human being has the right of access to medical care without suffering the fear of putting themselves and their families in debt for the rest of their lives. People shouldn't be forced to choose between going to their doctor when they are initially feeling sick and waiting to go to the emergency room when the pain becomes so excrucationg that they can't stand up. I have personally experienced what it's like to make medical decisions based upon financial considerations - it SUCKS! And it shouldn't happen. Anywhere.
Fifth, I want a true pro-environment candidate. We are bankrupting ourselves by being so dependent on oil for example - a resource that won't last forever. And yet, as gas prices rise and rise and rise, we aren't concentrating on finding newer, more efficient, renewable energy sources. There's a lot of talk and little action. In the meantime, the oil companies are getting richer, our pockets are getting lighter and the environment continues to deteriorate.
Global warming anyone? If we're not careful it won't even matter what we're using in our cars because there won't be any cars, there won't be any people because we will all have perished in massive floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, lung cancer - all because we were too busy to stop for a minute and take a look at the damage our lifestyles are doing to our one and only sustaining life source. We all like to believe that we can survive no matter what, but if the Earth gets too hot, if the water is undrinkable, if we can't grow food . . . Catastrophe isn't even the word for it. Try extinction of the human race. Don't you think human extinction should be a top priority?
Now I understand that I have put forth quite a tall order. Some would call me an idealist, even naive, but I say why not aim high? It's those who aim high that get things done and I will endorse any political candidate who aims high as well. I realize that my views are not the views of everyone. It would be difficult to find one candidate who encapsulates all that I wish to see change. So I'm willing to endorse several who make it their priority to work on one or two of my issues. Afterall, there's strength in numbers, right? The more the merrier!
But I will not vote for anyone who is in opposition to my list. I will vote, even without an official alternative on the ballot, but I will vote for someone I believe will make a change even as a write in.
It's time we let the politicians out there know what we want. How can we expect to have our needs met if we don't broadcast them to those who say they want to help. Write to your representatives, your senators, your mayors, your governors, your city councilmen - anyone who has the power to help you in making a change. Visit their offices if necessary. Make them listen! Things have gotten so out of whack. Our priorities are poisoning our children and our planet. The time to make a change is now. So make your demands and support those who are committed to meeting them. For those who don't - vote for someone else in the next election.
We have the power. It's there for our taking. Do we all have what it takes? I don't know. I don't know if I do, but I'd like to try. I want you to try, too. Please. For yourself, your kids, your neighbors, for anyone who wakes up in the morning and wishes things were different. It's time to tear down the walls between genders, races, economic classes - it's time we started thinking of one another as fellow humans who have the same basic needs and a right to have those needs met. A tall task, but with time and a lot of hard work, definitely doable.