We Need to Vote Like We’re All Just Starting Out

Four years ago as we approached the election, I was anxious. I bit my nails and gnashed my teeth, and I worried that the nation I was raising my young daughter in would soon be ruled by a man who respected women so little that he’d throw Sarah Palin on the ticket in an attempt to woo our votes.

Four years on, I am once again worried about a presidential election as a woman raising a daughter in a nation. But I’m an older woman, a wiser woman.

I am, in fact, 30 this year.

How many times have you heard the saying, “Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains”? Ten? Twenty? Thirty? Can you even remember when you heard it first or who is supposed to have said it (Winston Churchill, though the authenticity of that attribution is widely questioned).

I can’t remember where I heard it first or when. But at 30, I can still remember what it was like to be a young newlywed. We ate Lipton Noodles for dinner because they were 89 cents at the local Wal-Mart. We played the same game of Trivial Pursuit night after night because going to the movies was too expensive.

We didn’t have health insurance.

We couldn’t afford health insurance.

My husband doesn’t remember much about that time. Maybe it’s because he is beyond the 30 mark. Maybe it’s because he is a man, and the hardest part of living with no health insurance fell on me, the woman.

I was the one who found the lump in her breast.

It started with the pain. When I would put on my bra. When I would lie on my side. When my husband would move in to touch me.

I thought I’d hurt myself, only there was no bruise on the outside, and as I felt around, there was something hard on the inside. A lump. A woman’s worst nightmare.

And I had no health insurance, would have no health insurance for months more.&

I went for months with a lump in my breast because we couldn’t afford a doctor. If we could afford such luxuries, we would have been paying for health insurance to begin with.

I went for months carrying a lump in my breast and a lump in my throat, worrying, waiting.

Eventually, we got insurance. Eventually, I saw a doctor, and the lump proved not to be cancerous.

The swelling went down. The pain went away. I recovered.

I recovered, but I didn’t forget. I can’t forget what it was like to wonder if I might die because I couldn’t afford to get the care I needed to live.

I know I’m not alone.

The average American couple doesn’t start out with Mitt Romney’s lovely little stock portfolio (go ahead, fact check it, his “starting out” years were well-funded … this man never struggled) enabling them to avoid working for a few years. Most of us have the Lipton noodle years, the years when health insurance sounds luxurious.

I know that even the millions of Americans who are lucky enough to have health insurance have likely gone periods of their lives without health insurance, throwing the dice, risking it because the electric bill needed to be paid, the car insurance kept up.

If you’re under 30, you remember them. And so you’re a liberal not because you’re young and immature but because you understand. You are in touch with reality, you have not yet built your bubble.

If you are over 30, you may remember. Then again, you may not.

That’s why I’m scared this time around. Because we are four years on, and we are all four years older. We are four years removed from the problems that haunted us in 2008.

But that doesn’t mean they have gone away. Americans still need healthcare. American women still need access to mammograms, to preventative care, to have the right to take control of their own bodies.

Mitt Romney doesn’t care about any of that. He wants to repeal Obamacare. He wants to make it harder for women to access birth control. He wants to make those nightmares of the early years a reality for life.

I’m going to vote tomorrow as a woman. I’m going to vote tomorrow as a mother. I’m going to vote tomorrow because I haven’t forgotten what it was like to struggle, and I don’t wish that life on anyone else in America.

How about you?

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Image via alancleaver2000/Flickr

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