My Single Issue

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Here, on my personal website, I’m going to write down my justification for voting the way I will tomorrow. If you, on YOUR personal website, would like to write about why I’m wrong or stupid or horrid, that is obviously entirely your right. I have deactivated comments on this blog post, because I am not interested in comments telling me that I’m wrong/stupid/horrid. I’m not starting a discussion here; you’re not changing my mind, and I’m sure I’m not changing yours. Your arguments in opposition are not welcome here, and frankly, I don’t care if that makes you angry or disappointed in me or whatever else my refusal to engage in debate inspires. Take it to your own house. 

It was at some point in college that I first realized that some people chose their political parties/candidates based on a solitary political issue. It seemed that — in my area, anyway — the vast majority of these single-issue voters focused on abortion. Many of my thus-thinking friends and acquaintances gave me the impression that they would vote for ANYONE, no matter how heinous or poorly-qualified, so long as s/he were the pro-life candidate. I began to regard single-issue voters with disdain, not because I disagreed with their beliefs regarding abortion, but because it seemed so irresponsibly myopic of them to ignore everything else about a candidate in favor of one overriding concern.

Much to my surprise, I find that I am becoming (have become?) a single-issue voter* — and my issue is health care.

“It seems to me that most people who are voting for Obama are just doing it so that they’ll keep getting their handouts,” said a voter being interviewed on something Ryan shared with me yesterday. This comment made me angry, but I do understand where a belief like that comes from. I’m not going to stick my head in the sand and pretend that there aren’t people who take advantage of the system, who fail to uphold their end of the social contract. Certainly, there are people who gladly allow others to take care of them and theirs, rather than taking care of themselves. And sure — I don’t like that very much. Not only do I find it unfair, but I believe they are doing themselves and their descendents (and their society) a grave disservice by not being productive members of society.

What I fail to understand is how people like that voter can’t see that their net is cast too wide, that in refusing charity to the freeloaders they are also refusing mercy to good, contributing citizens who need help through no fault of their own.

How about my family?

If you’re a USAF veteran and work every day since you are seventeen years old, paying taxes, voting, going to church, attending parent-teacher conferences, saving, volunteering, incurring no debt, buying no expensive cars or airplane tickets, making house payments and paying bills on time — shouldn’t you and your spouse be able to go to the doctor? Or, as anti-Obamacare voters would prefer, should you just go and die because, at the age many people get to retire, you got laid off and have had to take a series of low-paying jobs that provide inadequate or nonexistent health care?

If you’re a recent college graduate who earned two degrees with honors, who lived at home throughout school and drives a used car, who doesn’t go shopping or barhopping, who doesn’t go to concerts or even full-price movies, who has never spent the extra money for a fancy haircut or manicure or spring break vacation, who now works full-time — but splitting that time between two half-time jobs, neither of which offer benefits — shouldn’t you be able to go to the dentist or the opthamalogist or the gynecologist before you get married without wondering if it will wipe out what little savings you have?

If your husband was a WWII veteran, and you were a civilian employee of the Army during wartime, and you worked every day until retirement even with crippling arthritis, and for the rest of your retirement you lived modestly and honestly — shouldn’t you be able to have medical care to address your failing hip prosthesis, or your blurring vision, or your aching teeth, in your old age, without having to decide whether to purchase food or pain medication?

How about my friends?

If you and your young husband worked hard at multiple jobs, doing the right things, waiting to have babies or buy a house, and then your husband required an organ transplant and used up his lifetime allowance for insurance coverage — shouldn’t he still have a right to live? Or, as anti-Obamacare voters would prefer, should your lives just be over because, heck, you used up your allotment, and it’s your own fault if you need another transplant (or a prescription, or an x-ray, or a doctor’s visit) in the future?

If your child was diagnosed with a minor medical issue at birth, which was thankfully treated and corrected before the toddler years, but then you changed jobs (and with it, insurance providers) — shouldn’t your small child still have the right to insurance coverage despite having, once upon a time, had a medical condition?

If you and your spouse are college-educated, hard-working parents who did everything they were supposed to do in the order you were supposed to do it, up until the point when your spouse died of cancer, leaving you the sole caregiver of young children — shouldn’t you be able to take your children to the pediatrician? Shouldn’t you be able to buy your prescriptions without worrying that it’s a choice between necessary antibiotics and food on the table?

Tell me what any of those people did wrong. Tell me what else they should have done. And don’t you dare tell me “People in need can be supported by their families or their churches or by independent charities instead of the government,” because I don’t see any of you doing anything to help any of them. A church or a charity can only help so many people, and extended families too often look the other way when the shadow of personal trouble and tragedy begins to fall.

NPR ran a piece yesterday that included an interview with a man with some serious medical issues (not anything that he brought upon himself in any way). He had been denied insurance because of his pre-existing condition, and his only hope to continue receiving any sort of medical treatment was Obamacare. He talked about a friend who would express sympathy at his plight, but who insisted on voting for Romney — and how, eventually, he felt he could no longer be friends with this person, because he supported Romney knowing that a Romney administration would likely cost him his life.

I feel for this guy. I look around at people I know who are voting, deliberately or not, to eliminate Obamacare, and while my head tries to tell me not to mix relationships and politics, my heart cringes away from them. It wonders, how can they be so cold? How can they be — and yes, I’m going to say it, and you can be angry if you’d like — so un-Christian? How can they look at that little “R,” or that “LDS,” or even an issue like gay marriage, abortion, immigration, or defense (none of which, I’d argue, Gov. Romney has an authentic opinion on) and believe that issue outweighs real human lives right here at home?

They’re trading ideology (or worse, some random demagogue’s endorsement) for my friends, for my coworkers, for my sister, for my parents, for my Grammy, for me. And yeah. It makes me pretty much not want to know them anymore.

So tomorrow, I am placing a vote in the name of mercy and in the name of love and charity and in the name of Jesus and in the name of my friends and family members who have HOPE now. I am placing a vote against those who would rob them of that hope. I am placing a vote that will have absolutely zero impact on the electoral votes allotted from my state — hell, they’re already allotted — because I could not sleep at night knowing that I had failed to take a stand, however symbolic, against self-righteous selfishness and cognitive dissonance.

And if Romney wins, and succeeds in overturning Obamacare… if, in some small blackened part of my soul, I hope that everyone who voted for him finds themselves in a position where they have no hope — a position that would have been ameliorated by reformed health care in America — well, God please forgive me. I am only human… angry, defensive, and human.

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* I’m fortunate in that the candidate who supports my views on health care also lines up with my views on most other subjects. I know that in focusing on health care and supporting President Obama, other issues that I find important — issues that have a major impact on my friends, family, and countrymen — will also be supported, and that makes me pretty happy. Maybe that means I’m not truly a single-issue voter, but honestly… at this point, I’d overlook a helluva lot of flaws to support a candidate who will uphold health care reform.

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