I didn’t vote for President Bush, but I have grown to appreciate him for his finer qualities: the resolve to end terror on our homeland and abroad, providing adequate leadership during a very difficult time in our nation’s history. Things could be worse, but I must come to the conclusion that things…could also be better.
With the 2004 campaign season about to begin, I must start the process of deciding who can best lead our nation beyond the current economic and national security crisis we still find ourselves in. Something must change and I feel that fresh ideas and fresh blood are necessary for this change to occur.
By some people’s standards I am a liberal, and by other people’s I am a conservative. But truth be told, I am a pragmatist who wants the basic things in life: financial opportunities, economic growth, a secure environment to raise my children and access to reasonable health care.
Why are these things so difficult to attain? All around me I see people struggling to make ends meet, get to the next level on the socio-economic food chain and find a balance between achievement and happiness. I DO NOT blame Bush for this fundamental shift in the United States status quo, but I do not get a sense that he has ALL of my needs and desires in his sights. President Bush has set the stage for global security. I expect any new leader of my nation to maintain that bar and raise it even higher as necessity indicates, but I have other needs, and I am an average American.
I am not rich, I am not middle class making ends meet, I am not the lowest tiers of poverty, I am an out of work mother with a child on the way. I am dependent on the local government for health care for my unborn child and children, I am dependent on the government for unemployment benefits that are only days from expiring, I am an entrepreneur looking for a way to better myself and contribute to my country through economic growth and value added service.
I want to work, I want to pay my own way, I want to help other’s achieve their goals because I am doing my part. I NEED to feel I am being productive, but I am hindered by circumstance and a mindset that I have no control over – what can a six and half month pregnant woman offer?
I need the freedom to make choices so that I can do a hard day’s work without the worry that my children are being given less than adequate care, because I can’t afford ADEQUATE care.
More than anything else, I AM LUCKY. Because there are people who don’t have food to give their children, or money to pay for a car so they can find a job, or buy the basic necessities of life. I have family and friends who have been kind enough to help me through my families tough times, but now EVERYONE is having a tough time, and charity is a tough pill to swallow.
For every time I have to explain my health insurance situation, no one ever bothers to say, “Oh dear, you must have lost your job due to the failing economy and poor management decisions at your previous employer, and because you care about your children and unborn, you understand the importance of adequate healthcare and will take whatever help you are offered.” No, what they do is look at you and make assumptions about the type of person you are without the slightest clue that you were once a valuable and highly respected employee at a nationally known company.
The humiliation is my burden to bear, not my children’s. But it is painful either way. I do find only small comfort in knowing that many of my former co-workers must share my fate and do their best to get by.
Back in ’78 when my parents were preparing for divorce, my dad lost his job at the Kaiser Aluminum factory, a job that provided an adequate living for a small rural family. My mom grew up poor so she learned many skills to make ends meet. She could sew, can her own food and make gifts from scratch. I only wish I had half her talent for such things. Even though that Christmas felt out of place with our homemade gifts, there was a sense of community as we worked together during emotional and financial hardship to make our last Christmas together at least “feel” special.
I have neither my mom’s strength or her talent, so I fear this Christmas and the pressure to “give” will be just one more burden I can’t bear. But I will attempt to sew, cook on a limited budget, learn to knit and craft things from scratch. Hopefully those receiving the gifts will see the love that went into them, not the mistakes and poor skills.
I am sorry President Bush, I don’t want to turn my back on you, but you aren’t doing the whole job.