Imagine you were a 35-year-old mechanic with a wife and kid who is sick without health care to support you and all you see is ad after ad telling you only one side is right.
I’m not that guy, and I cannot be him. However, I made a choice in this election based on who I am and what I believe. Try as I might to persuade with statistic after quote after issue, ultimately you will decide this election for yourself. The most I can share with you is why I decided to support Al Gore.
I am a 21-year-old from Texas ending a college career at a prestigious but expensive University. I have two parents who work to help pay my tuition and a little sister who is about to start public high school back in Houston. So why do I care about this election?
I am about to graduate from college. When politicians talk about this era of prosperity, I wonder how long it will last. I want to go to graduate school, but I’m afraid I’ll be left out of this era of prosperity. A tax cut sounds good, but more than anything I want to believe the economy will stay secure. The only action that makes sense to me for our economy is to pay down the national debt.
I think those who are prosperous have a lot to be excited about, and I hope one day I can provide enough for my family so they too will never have to worry about money. However, if I had to divide the surplus, I know there are a lot of people struggling to pay tuition, their college debt and to make ends meet. While George Bush gives some money to these people, he still gives the richest one percent more than two-fifths of his tax cut. I guess we just make different people priorities.
I have two parents who work to make ends meet. I am no charity case, but my parents work hard to make sure I have every opportunity to succeed. Like most families, I disagree sometimes with my parents, but they know I care about them. The issue of health care was simply an insurance card I was supposed to use at Student Health. Then, midway through my sophomore year, my mom was diagnosed with diabetes. She is fine, but getting that phone call from home makes you think a lot and makes health care into a very real issue. I just imagine what it would have been like if we were like so many other people who don’t have coverage. While I know it will be a long time before every American is covered, I believe Al Gore wants to start us on a road to insure every American. More importantly, it scares me to think almost one quarter of the children in my home state of Texas do not have health insurance.
I care about my little sister Tanya who will start high school next year. She will live in the smoggiest city in the country and go to school in one of the worst systems in the nation. Luckily, her high school gets support from the community. However, if something happens, I want a president who will be there to make sure my sister’s school is as good as any other. I want a president who won’t give up on our community and ask my parents to ship her away from her friends. Rather, I think a true leader will work with the community and invest in public schools. I want a president who believes in public education and will fight to rebuild schools not just walk away from them.
I hate when politicians say they don’t talk to young people because we don’t vote. It would be so easy to not vote or vote for some third-party candidate who may sound great as a way to protest the system. I know, however, that if I do that, I am just making it easier for George W. Bush. That is not something, especially after growing up in Texas, I am willing to do.
In another four years, I will be a different person, and this will be a different country. But I believe in Al Gore when he says he will fight for working families, health care for all Americans and investment in our public schools.
Whatever choice you make, keep this in mind. In 1960, John F. Kennedy won the presidency by a margin of one vote per precinct. Upon each of those people, he built a vision that believed in young people and changed the course of history. His legacy, if anything, is that 40 years later, in one of the closest elections in history, we can make a difference for Al Gore. Your vote and your contribution will make a difference for Gore. I believe he will make a difference for us.
-The writer is national political director of the College Democrats of America and president of the GW College Democrats.