Thursday, October 30, 2008

I'm One of Those People


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.

24 comments:

  1. Amen to that! I tell you, I'm going to have my fingers, toes, eyes, and legs crossed come Tuesday... :)

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  2. I feel sad for you guys who are young and are just starting out. I hope something can be done to make things better.

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  3. I agree! Especially with what you said about teaching - I feel like it's a calling for me, because lord knows I'm not doing it for the big bucks. :) Have you read any of Barbara Ehrenreich's books? I loved Nickle and Dimed; she did a great job of describing the struggles of the lower class.

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  4. I remember the days when one of my checks went to the rent, and the other check of the month had to go for everything else. I remember having $3.50 in my account which had to last three weeks. I remember going to the grocery store with a calculator to record everything I put into the cart so I wouldn't be embarrassed at the checkout. I remember being a single mom when my first husband died leaving me with a Kindergarten son to raise alone.

    These are hard times, and I admire your strength.

    I wish I could say I felt the hope you do in Barak. Truthfully, I'm scared to death he'll win. He's done nothing for Illinois (my home state). He has no experience to speak of. When you talk of only taxing the big corporations you talk of taxing the very businesses that support the rest of us. But, these are my personal opinions, of course, and I feel that I'm in quite a minority.

    It will be interesting to see what happens. I certainly hope that America gets the leader she so desparately needs, and who am I to say who that is. Only time will tell.

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  5. Me too, Jen. It might be time to invest in a new country if he loses. ;)

    Deb, it's tough starting out now, but I'm sure plenty of others have gone through the same. In some ways I am glad this is happening now for the fact that so many young people are becoming increasingly involved because of our economic troubles and society's woes as a whole.

    Jessi, I haven't read Ehrenreich, but since you mentioned it, I think I'll see if Nickel and Dimed is available at my library. I feel a non-fiction mood coming on.

    Bellezza, I know we disagree on this issue, but I'm glad you commented. I hope Obama, if he wins (not counting the chickens just yet), turns out better than you're thinking now. I do understand where you're coming from because as a Texan I was positively horrified when Bush won twice. He was hateful and generally deplorable as Texas governor. I think all Americans hope for the same things, we just believe in different paths to get to that same end result. As you said, time will tell.

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  6. Amen.

    Obama/Biden '08 (and '12, while we're at it!)

    Lezlie

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  7. Well written Andi.
    There are lots of us here in Australia hoping that the change comes too - Go Obama!

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  8. Right on!! I voted last Friday.. I'm taking the 5th off....if obama wins i'll be having a celebratory drunk...if mccain wins i'll have a misery drunk, then spend the next day looking at emigration.

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  9. Andi, what a considerate response you wrote to me. My husband (who's a government employee) wanted me to add that in Illinois, where Obama has been a Freshman Senator, we find ourselves with small businessess making a mass exodus out of our state, one of the highest unemployment rates in all of the nation, and the highest sales tax of all fifty states.
    This doesn't bode well for our country to me, when I translate Illinois' situation to the rest of the country.

    Doesn't that scare you?

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  10. Such a good post Andi. I'm hoping America gets the change Obama promises come Tuesday, but I also hope it gets to heal the seemingly massive gulf between the red and blue states. The UK and Europe is watching this with baited breath (what will our newspapers report on once it's over I wonder??).

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  11. Lots of love and ((((((hugs)))))) for doing the most important job there is. I seriously considered being a teacher when I realized I needed to make a career change. Sadly being a lawyer does not equate a decent income. My law school loans have me contemplating a second job.

    I am so thrilled and frightened about the results next Tuesday. Most importantly, I hope it is over by Wednesday morning.

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  12. Hey Andi, what a well written post. You're very honest about your struggles and the realities of life today. Many of us in Canada are anxiously waiting for the results of Tuesday as well.

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  13. LOL, Lezlie! I hope Palin runs for '12. SNL already has plenty of fodder for that.

    Karen, keep your fingers crossed!

    Melanie, that sounds like a plan to me!!

    Bellezza, it does scare me and it doesn't. Since I don't know what Obama's voting record was in his years in the Illinois State Senate (an admitted gap in my own knowledge) I can't say how big a role he played in the issues you bring up. Texas is in much the same situation with the mass exodus of small businesses, etc. but those changes have been in motion for years as a result of an industrial shift from farming to technology as well as decisions by Texas lawmakers. See what I mean? I would need to do more research into Obama's role and the goings-on of Illinois trends and politics on the state level. I am aware of some general moves he made that I see as positive (the videotaping of interrogations and confessions in all capital cases, ethics legislation, etc.). But again, I would need to read some more. I've been more involved to this point with his voting record and legislation activities on the national level.

    Logophile, I definitely agree with you that the rift between red and blue needs some tlc. I also hope American can begin to heal a rift between ourselves and the rest of the world that's been widening for a good eight years.

    The whole education/loans thing is such a vicious cycle of crap isn't it, Purl? Ugg. Don't even get me started. lol Like you, I hope it's over Wednesday morning. A decisive victory would be stellar.

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  14. Melanie, neighbor, keep your fingers crossed for the best come election day!

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  15. I just cannot wait for Tuesday. I truly feel that this election is going to take this country in one of two vastly different directions and I'm hoping for the best outcome. I was stunned to find GWB president, that people actually voted for him TWICE, and so I take nothing for granted now. I also watched the BO program on Wednesday and was moved by the stories and aware that there are so many more of them. These are frightening times but like you I am hopeful.

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  16. You are articulated sentiments I was feeling as well; I hope that Obama wins and I am glad to have had the chance to participate in this historic election

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  17. Andi - I agree with you. In all of it. I also come from Illinois, but I certainly don't blame Obama for the present condition of our state. There has been a host of mismanagement issues, starting mostly with the Governor.

    But I'm in the same boat you are. I never thought I'd be in it. My husband worked for 13 years for the Mitusbishi plant here in Illinois. $28/hour. Till he got laid off many month ago. Now he's making just over $10/hour. If that isn't bad enough, we got our first foreclosure notice in the mail today. Although we are current on our primary mortgage, our 2nd mortgage is 3 months past due. I know I can make them a payment next week to hold them at bay, but it's going to be tough making up what I'm behind in. I'm working 65 hours a week at my full-time job AND waiting tables. Most days are at least 14 hours at work. I miss my kids like crazy....but I CAN NOT lose my house. It just can't happen.

    I don't know if Obama is going to help. But I have to have some hope.

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  18. Andi, thank you for sharing your story and thoughts...it's young people like you who will shape the future of this country, and it's good to know that we'll be in good hands with new leadership and a caring, thinking new generation!

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  19. Andi, thank you for sharing your story and thoughts...it's young people like you who will shape the future of this country, and it's good to know that we'll be in good hands with new leadership and a caring, thinking new generation!

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  20. What a superb post, Andi. You brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing such a personal statement with the blogosphere. I'm going to send it on to my daughter.

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  21. Tara, I was pretty darn floored that people voted for him twice, too. But then again I got an inside look when he was (worthless) governor of Texas. :D

    Beastmomma, it is one of those moments when we can all sit back and feel completely assured that we're witnessing history. It's humbling!

    Stephanie, I'm sending out all the good thoughts for you my dear. I knoew you were working your butt off, but I just didn't realize how much. You hang in there!

    Thanks so much, Becca. Your words mean a lot. I've been a wee bit worried about my generation and the youngers for a while now, but it's heartening to see a rise in interest in the state of our country from friends and my students.

    Thanks so much, Les. I hope your daughter enjoys it, too.

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  22. This was so inspiring!

    You baROCK!

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  23. Thank you, Kristen!! :D

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  24. I'm obsessively refreshing the NY Times election results map. It's painful watching these counties trickle in their results, but I can't help being terrified we'll have at least four more years of the same insanity we've had these past eight. Although I know that polling strongly points to Obama winning, like Tara I can't take it for granted that he'll win.

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