I had that thought the other day while thinking of a woman I spoke to during my calls for OFA. Laurie has had incredibly poor fortune the past few years. She and her husband both had health emergencies in 2008. Her husband lost his job because of his, and he couldn’t get another one because he was a) illiterate and b) too ill to work. They had to deal with a mess of red tape to get unemployment benefits, which have since run out. Laurie has diabetes and so can’t get private insurance because of a pre-existing condition. Her husband gets about $900 a month in Social Security payments, $650 of which goes to the rent. They have no other income and are struggling to provide for their daughter.
Laurie was obviously lonely and desperate; it was the longest call I’ve had so far because she kept talking and I just didn’t have the heart to hang up. She kept saying “it’s not fair” and I completely agreed with her. Obviously an election more than a year away was not at the top of her list of priorities. I gave her the number for the local United Way hotline and said I honestly believed President Obama had the interests of average people like her at heart when he crafted policy.
It’s because of people like Laurie that I’m involved with the summer program at Organizing for America. It’s because of people like Laurie that I’m trying to get Obama re-elected. We have to lower the unemployment rate and create jobs. We have to raise taxes on the rich to raise revenue and balance the budget. We have to revise our health care laws so people like Laurie and her family don’t fall through the cracks. We have to raise disability payments to a living wage so Laurie isn’t worried about her family ending up hungry and homeless. That’s not the promise America was founded on.
Of course, Republicans are totally opposed to all of the steps outlined above. They seem to care only about the top 1% of fellow millionaires. I presume the Republicans have a similar program in which they recruit volunteers. How do they do that? By appealing to “family values” and “tradition”? By extolling the racism and sexism of the 1950s and refusing to acknowledge a multicultural future? By saying “you, too, can help pollute our nation’s air and water”? By championing massive profits in the oil, financial and health care industries? By criticizing so-called “entitlements” while at the same time benefiting from government subsidies and health care? By bellowing about constitutionality while taking away people’s right to vote? By advocating smaller government while at the same time nosing into the most personal details of women’s medical care? By celebrating all of the old white men in their establishment?
I just honestly can’t imagine what kind of tools they use to get people interested in their party. Obviously those people are out there, what with the success of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. And certainly Democrats aren’t perfect. We don’t have strong, assertive voices or clear messaging on vital subjects. But I believe more Democrats have more average people’s interests in mind than do Republicans.