In less than 72 hours, Americans will head to the polls to elect the next President of the United States. It will end a two year campaign which has been described by many in the media as the most negative in our nation’s history. There are two very distinct paths our nation faces that day. One pathway will lead the nation back to the policies of George W. Bush. The other pathway will lead this nation forward to a prosperous future in the 21st century. Though I am a non-abashed liberal who hopes President Obama will win re-election, I am also very mindful of the role elections play in our society. It is important for everyone who is registered to vote to cast a ballot on Election Day. Regardless of who you vote for or what party you belong to, casting a ballot enables you to be apart of the political discussion in this country. It enables you to let your voice be heard. Voting is one of the most important actions a person can take in our nation as it pays tribute to our founding fathers, our grandfathers and our mothers and fathers who have fought to protect this nation from harm. They fought to protect the Constitution and to protect the idea that “All men are created equal.” Because of them, we are able to go to ballot box and cast a vote for one party or another. Although it appears at this time in history we are more divided than ever, every American still has the fundamental right to vote. It is a sacred duty which we fought for over 200 years ago.
So, here is what is at stake in this election: As most people are aware, we are still climbing out of the worst financial disaster since The Great Depression, nearly 80 years ago. As was the case back then, it took nearly a decade to come out of such a horrible crisis. To expect the economy would be flourishing so soon after it cratered is a pipe dream. Yet, man people believe that is exactly what should be happening. If we keep on the current course, our economy will become stronger than before. If we return to “trickle down”/”supply side” economics, we will no doubt return to a financial crisis. Mitt Romney wants to to supply those in the top 1% with tax breaks which will hurt the rest of the nation. Barack Obama wants to grow the middle class, to make it stronger than before. If the middle class is strong, then our nation is strong. However, does either candidate have a the solution to our problems? No. In order to get our financial house in order, there must be cuts in spending and new taxes must be raised. Corporations must be made to pay their share as well as every person in this nation. There should no longer be a feeling of entitlement, that just because you make a certain amount you are off the hook. Or, just because you have children and someone else does not you don’t have to pay. If we want to keep our country strong, every person must pay their share of taxes, it’s that simple.
Another issue which is at stake this election is the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Those who are against it believe it is a government take over of our healthcare. But, what do we have now? Right now we have private companies deciding who should get what, when it comes to healthcare. Right now, there are men and women making decisions about your mom’s cancer treatments and your dad’s heart operation, it just so happens they work for a multi-billion dollar corporation whose only concern is making money. Does it not make sense to take the money out of healthcare? The Affordable Care Act does many things: First, no one can be denied coverage. Second, there is no longer a lifetime cap. Third, you get to keep your insurance. However, with coverage no longer able to be denied, people who need procedures (in theory) will be able to get them. The most important thing about this bill is that it forces every American to be responsible for his or her own healthcare. Everyone must purchase insurance. If you cannot afford it, you will be helped. But, with the market expanding, prices will start to fall. Is the Affordable Care Act perfect? No. But it is a start in the right direction. Keep in mind, we are the largest industrialized nation that does not provide healthcare for all of its citizens.
Finally, this election is important because of what it means to millions of gay men and lesbians. President Obama has been a fierce advocate for LGBT rights since he entered office in 2009. Since that time, he has made hospital visitation a right to LGBT couples. He has repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, so that gay men and lesbians can serve openly in our armed forces. His administration has stopped defending the Defense of Marriage Act and called for its repeal. He has appointed Supreme Court justices who believe in equality for all Americans. And, he has signaled his support for marriage equality. The Republican Party and Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan do not believe in any of that. They do not believe LGBT citizens should be allowed to marry or to adopt children. They want to re-instate DADT and would do their best to push a Constitutional Marriage Amendment through. We are American. All men are created equal in this country, but according them, you are only equal if you are straight. If Romney/Ryan are elected on Tuesday, the gains which have been made over the past four years will be wiped away on January 20, 2013. Not only that, they will work to ensure that Roe v. Wade is overturned and make abortion illegal. The Republican party claims to be the party of small government and less government interference in our lives; yet when they start dictating what we do with our bodies, that makes them the party of more government interference.
There are big choices to be made on November 6. Those choices will impact the direction of this country for years to come. If we look back to where this nation was on November 3, 2008 to where we are now; we are better off. It is our duty as Americans to ensure we continue going in the right direction. However, one of the great things about this nation is this: No matter who is elected, there will be another Presidential Election in four years. Our government and our nation keep going because we have at its center, the greatest document ever written: The Constitution of the United States. This ensures every two years we can elect new representatives and senators and every four years we can elect a new president. It ensures a check and balance system so that no one branch of government gets too powerful. Finally, our Constitution gives the power of our government to the people. No matter who you vote for this year; remember you still have the right to vote.