Sunday, February 19, 2006

Democrats: a Reality Check

Over the last few years, Lisette and her family have had to make some changes. They are both working two jobs now, just to pay the mortgage, and the utility bills, which keep going up. In fact it seems like everything is going up but their salaries. They get "raises" but they are token raises that don't increase their take home pay more than a few dollars a month after taxes. They've cut out the extras they used to enjoy, like cable TV, taking the kids to the Olive Garden on Sundays, Lisette has even started buying the kids' clothes at the Goodwill. Instead of Hamburger Helper for supper, now they usually eat canned soup. They've used up their savings, and for the last couple of years, even things like a new tire for the car, or their insurance co-pays, have had to go on the credit card. And now it's a struggle to make the minimum payments. They are starting to realize that they can't really afford the payments on their home, but they can't afford an apartment either. They looked into bankruptcy but found out that with the new law, even that wouldn't help them. Neither has parents they can move in with for a while.

What do the Democrats have to offer Lisette and her family?

Justin and his partner want to be married. They don't want a civil union, they don't want a marriage that might be recognized in one state, but not another. Justin's job requires a lot of travel. What if something happened to him in a state that doesn't recognize Ben as his spouse? His parents, who never accepted him or Ben for who they are, might try to get assets he wants Ben and their adopted daughter to have. He's talked to a lawyer and done all he can, and for their family, things might be OK. But he worries about other couples who may not have money for a lawyer, and he just doesn't like the idea of a tiered system of equal protection under the law.

What do the Democrats have to offer Justin and his family?

Keisha lives in the projects with her mother and two small children. She is lucky to have her mama to watch the kids while she works. She is lucky to have a project apartment, although she might lose it because her cousin got caught with a joint when he left the apartment the other night. They have this zero tolerance thing, and he KNEW that. Keisha doesn't make enough money to get an apartment if they get kicked out. Her oldest baby's daddy is dead. A policeman shot him, said he thought Calvin had a gun. It wasn't a gun. It was her baby's bottle. The father of her youngest is in jail. He tagged a wall, there was no money for a lawyer, public defender, it's a story you hear a lot in Keisha's neighborhood. Both the kids have asthma. Keisha has taken a second job to pay for their medicine, and make up the difference in Medicaid and the bills for her mama's diabetes, but everything keeps going up every month. Some dressed up people were in the projects the other day, not the dangerous one where Keisha lives, but the new one. Her cousin lives there. They gave her a brochure about some politician. It's a good thing too, because the baby spit up and Keisha didn't have any Kleenex....

What do the Democrats have to offer Keisha and her family?

Earlene is retired, and her main concern is high medical costs. She is confused by the new Medicare prescription drug program, but she has figured out it isn't going to save her any money. In fact, when she went to the drugstore, they wanted $800 for just one month's worth of medicine. Then they said she could have two month's worth, but time is running out, even though she cuts all the pills in half . She's on a fixed income and doesn't have any money to give to the insurance companies, but even if she did, none of them offer coverage on the medicines her doctor prescribes.

What do the Democrats have to offer Earlene?

Annabeth just got kicked out of her apartment. The rent kept going up, but her hourly wage didn't. She was already working two and a half jobs. Now she lives on the street, with her two small children. The other day somebody came around with some sandwiches, talking about some program to let homeless people vote. They had literature about some politicians. Annabeth looked at it, but didn't really see anything that had anything to do with her. She doesn't believe that it makes any difference whether she votes or not.

What do the Democrats have to offer Annabeth and her family?

Karen is pregnant. She used protection, a gel she bought from the drug store, but evidently something went wrong. On her salary, she can't afford to go to the doctor, and the health insurance they have only pays if you are in the hospital for more than a week. Plus it costs an arm and a leg, and she's had to take a weekend job to be able to pay her rent. It doesn't pay much, and since it's part time, she can't afford to take a day off work to go wait at the planned parenthood place. Her state doesn't offer any financial help for abortions, and the women's clinic wants just about what Karen takes home every month. She doesn't want to be a mother, and couldn't afford a child even if she wanted one. She is so desperate she even asked the guy who got her pregnant to lend her the money, but he said no, it's too bad if she has money problems but he is seeing someone else now. He asked Karen not to call him again.

What do the Democrats have to offer Karen?

Elaine is a nurse. She is fed up with the things her country is doing, both at home and overseas. She keeps up with the news, and in her job it's impossible to ignore the fact that just a fraction of the money being spent to invade other countries could save a lot of lives right here in the US. She's heard a lot of speeches and promises from politicians her whole life, but things keep getting worse, not better. She's decided to move to Norway. At 35, she's begun to think about getting married and starting a family, but not in America. It's no place to raise a child.

What do the Democrats have to offer Elaine?

Paul, after twenty years of supporting Democratic candidates, is fed up. It seems to him that there is not really much difference between the two parties anymore, if there ever was. The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were for him, the last straw. And soon it'll be Iran. Meanwhile, he sees the lives of his friends, his family, falling apart, mostly because of health care and housing costs. And Paul knows they're the lucky ones, with jobs and insurance, and a roof over their heads, at least for now. Nobody he knows is living more than three checks or one serious injury or illness from the street. His parents are getting older, he worries about how they will care for them. Just the other day, his mom fell in the bathroom. He put in some handrails, but soon handrails won't be enough. How will he care for them? How will he pay for their medicine that isn't covered by either the new Medicare or that sorry ass insurance policy they bought? His salary is barely enough for him, and the company has been downsizing. Paul is through with the Democrats. He's looking for a party that isn't owned by the corporations, one that will actually do something for the people, not just make the same old tired speeches.

What do the Democrats have to offer Paul and his family?

The Republicans clearly have nothing to offer any of these people.

What do the Democrats have to offer them?

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