Bernie Sanders is my best chance for seeing positive changes in my lifetime that will affect me and my loved ones. This is not a criticism of other candidates. This is not a referendum of the DNC. This is a personal and informed decision.
I suffer from Type II Bipolar Disorder. I require regular, daily medication, and treatment; and I will for the rest of my life. I cannot afford health insurance, even under The Affordable Care Act. Being sick is expensive.
My sister suffers from Marfan syndrome. Marfan is a genetic predisposition that contributes significantly to the risk of an aortic aneurysm and/or dissection. Think of John Ritter from Three’s Company. Your heart ruptures. You bleed out internally before anyone knows what is happening. It’s a horrible, sudden, unexpected, and, sometimes, quiet death.
In 2013, my sister spent over three months in the ECU at Memorial Hermann in Houston, Texas. “ECU” is the Emergent Care Unit. As the doctors described it to me, “ICU is where ECU patients go to recover.” For some patients, ICU is a blessing.
Unlike me, my sister does have healthcare provided by her husband’s employer. However, a three-month long stay in the ECU, follow-up appointments with cardiologists and multiple specialists, regular medication, and another open-heart surgery on the horizon require medical support that exceed her financial, practical, and healthcare coverage resources. Being sick is expensive.
Since Marfan is genetic, there is a possibility that I, too, have Marfan. Since it is genetic, there is a possibility that my three-year old son might have it; and because I can’t afford healthcare, I can’t afford genetic testing for the two of us. This scares the hell out of me every single day.
My parents are retired. They live on Social Security and pension funds. They, too, have multiple health issues that require daily medication. Being sick is expensive, especially on current Social Security benefits.
I put myself through a private, undergraduate university and four years of graduate school. Unlike genetic conditions, this was my choice. My student debt is mine and mine alone. I do not blame anyone for the decisions I made to further my education and pay for it through student loans and to commit myself to a lifetime of debt. I don’t, however, want my son to have to decide whether a bachelor’s degree is a good investment like a home or a car or market shares. Eighteen year-olds should not be faced with a decision that will affect the rest of their adult lives.
I grew up in a single-parent household that included my grandmother, my mother, and my sister. Oftentimes, the three of us lived under the same roof in a two-bedroom home. Grandma had her own room. My mom, sister, and I shared one bedroom. Mom and I had bunkbeds. My sister got the twin bed. I was in high school at the time. I was a teenager who shared a bunkbed with his mother at the age of 16.
My mother worked multiple jobs simultaneously to keep us fed, clothed, and educated. She worked a shift that included 32 hours of a 48 hour weekend; and she did it as a woman in the 90s who made less per dollar than the men working alongside her who worked just 8 hours a day.
I come from a military family. My father was in the military. Both of my grandfathers were in the military. Two of my uncles were in the military. My great-uncle was in the military. One of my second cousins was in the military and my youngest cousin is currently in the Marines. Yet, I am a pacifist.
I come from a family of immigrants. My great-great grandparents migrated from Arizona to Texas in a covered chuck wagon. They set up their canopy in Central Texas and harvested watermelons, strawberries, and tomatoes. My father’s family migrated to Flint, Michigan where they picked cucumbers every summer. Migrant work is in my blood one generation removed. (My father did this every summer until he graduated from high school.)
I think you’re getting the picture and I’m growing a bit tired talking about myself so I want to circle back to the point.
I voted for Bernie Sanders in the Arkansas Primary because he and I are in alignment on the following positions:
- Corporations should stop sending jobs overseas and they should stop sending profits overseas to avoid paying U.S. income taxes.
- The federal minimum wage should be at least $15/hour.
- Investments should be made in our infrastructure to rebuild dams, railroads, airports, interstate highways, and bridges creating jobs for millions of the unemployed.
- Current trade policies need to be reversed.
- A youth jobs program needs to implemented that will give teenagers and young adults the tools they need to be competitive in today’s job market.
- Women need to earn as much as men per dollar.
- Higher education should not require a conversation with a financial planner.
- Quality childcare and pre-K programs should be accessible to every parent.
- Employers should provide at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.
- Supreme Court justices should make overturning Citizens United a priority.
- Money in elections should be regulated through an amendment to the Constitution.
- Super PACs should be eliminated.
- Fossil fuel subsidies should be terminated.
- Fracking needs to be acknowledged as destructive to communities and local economies.
- The police forces around the country need to be demilitarized.
- Funding needs to be expanded for Planned Parenthood, access to contraception, and safe and legal abortions.
- Roe v. Wade needs to be upheld.
- WIC needs more funding.
- A single-payer healthcare system needs to be implemented.
- Seniors need larger Social Security Insurance benefits.
- The LGBT community needs laws that prohibit any discrimination regarding healthcare, student enrollment in higher education, creditors and banks, and the police force.
- VA benefits need to be expanded to include better mental healthcare services and expedited processing of claims.
- Vocational education programs for individuals with disabilities need additional funding.
- Medicare needs the ability to negotiate better prices with brand prescription drug prices.
- “Pay for delay” deals between brand drug makers and generic manufacturers need to be prohibited.
- The root causes of international terrorism need to be identified before applying military solutions to those who are already radicalized.
Bernie isn’t just an alternative to other candidates for me. He’s the one candidate whose values are in alignment with my own. These are values I’ve held for years before #feelthebern went on trend. This Jewish dude from Brooklyn came along and started talking about the things that I’ve been feeling for years and years and years.
One year ago, I had no idea who he was. One year ago, I would not have cared who got the Democratic nomination. One year ago, I would not have spent hours into the night researching donations from PACs, the Dentons Public Policy and Regulation practices, the locations of Pfizer’s manufacturing plants, the Dacheng Law Offices activities, or the movements of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufactures of America lobby. This year is different for me. This year, the Democratic nominee matters to me and my loved ones on a daily basis. Will we even make it to see my son graduate from high school? This isn’t a question that we should have to frame based on the cost of healthcare or the upward distribution of wealth or the affordability of higher education or the security of our borders or the health of our planet.
These are just some of the reasons why I cast my vote for Bernie Sanders for President of the United States.