Since I was gone to class last night I missed the Barack Obama TV spot. I recorded it, though, and when I came back from my bike ride earlier I sat down to check it out. I guess the pure and simple reason I voted for Barack Obama is that I think he can help people; he can help this country and we'll be better for having him in the White House.
As I was watching the stories of middle class Americans having a hard time it actually brought me to tears because I am one of those middle class Americans that needs some help. And I hate that! My family are those middle class Americans that need some help.
You all know I work my ass off, and I do it for two reasons:
1. I feel a moral obligation to teach. There is a near-religious burden on my heart to pass along what I know to students in an effort to help them be more successful and to become more knowledeable about the world.
2. I have to.
I work for three colleges this semester, and I'll work for a total of four in the spring semester. I teach more than twice what usually a normal full-time teaching load. I don't make enough money to afford an apartment and the utilities. I'm going to school not only because I have an interest in library science, but it's a good way to keep the college loan payments at bay until I can nail down a full-time job. I'm going on my second year without health insurance.
When I was a kid I imagined that when I grew up I'd go to college, get a good education, and have a job and have a life I could afford. The reality is that I have a great education that I had to use loans to pay for and that'll I'll be paying back for at least another 10 years. Now I'm paying for more school out of pocket because it's cheaper than paying back my loans.
I know that I am not special in my predicament. I'm just one of millions.
My mom has been a single parent since I was a year old. She worked for 24 years at a Fortune 500 utility company in Dallas. She and my grandparents shared the responsibility of bringing me up an educated, moral individual because she was gone from our home for 12 hours a day. Her employers laid her off after 24 years because they outsourced most of their jobs to Poland.
She is not special. She's one of millions.
I voted for Barack Obama because I need some help as do millions of people out there. I'm tired of working three and four jobs. Even when I was employed full-time, I had to moonlight at another institution to make ends meet. Six of my eight colleagues in the department did the same. The more prosperous this country is, the more students can afford to attend college, and the more likely it is that I can find full time work again with benefits and put my degrees to good use; the more likely it is that I could afford to be sick. Thus far I've made a choice to teach college, but I don't know if I'll be able to sustain that dream much longer. It may be back to public schools and broken programs like No Child Left Behind very soon. Although, in truth, I couldn't make ends meet when I taught high school full-time either. I'm at a point now where I don't necessarily know what any of the answers are.
But I do know...
It's not shameful to dream big or challenge the status quo. It's not naive to hope for a better life, a more prosperous country, and a cleaner earth. It's not impossible to change the world. That's why I voted for Barack Obama. This is the most important election of my lifetime, and I think he's the only way we're going to make positive changes that will help me and my mom and those like us get by and prosper.
I don't like to talk about my problems in terms this depressing and this raw because I am blessed in countless ways. Even though I'm struggling, I see the glass as half full almost every day. But it's time to take our empathy to the voting booth and help each other out with policies that will build green industry and create jobs, cut taxes for the working class, and help students go to college and not have to live the way I've lived as a result of choosing higher education as a personal priority and a career.
It's time for a change.