HA! I bet you all thought I had forgotten about Flashback Friday after its one and only debut performance. Well, fear not and call me an elephant! Because I never forget. (About Flashback Friday, that is. About what day of the week it is, that’s another story.) And all the talk of politics lately has made me a little nostalgic.
The first year that I was able to vote happened to be an election year, in 2004. At that time, I was a freshman at UO. I lived on campus that year, and it was such an exciting time to be there! People were really buzzing about the election, and it was THE big thing on campus that fall. There were rallies, voter registration campaigns, and it was the main topic of discussion in the dorms and around campus. One day, Howard Dean came to talk at the EMU, and the turnout was huge. Everyone was going to attend to hear what he had to say. I myself did not go (I had a class at the same time), but you could hear the rally inside the buildings and blocks away at the dorms. For everyone who says 18 year olds don’t care about their country? That experience was proof for me that they do.
I was so excited that my first vote could be part of something big like a presidential election. I remember on election night, the girls on my floor all spent the night parked around the TV’s in our tiny dorm rooms, eating ice cream and watching the results. At the time, a lot of people on campus were disappointed that George Bush was elected to another term. I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed too. I didn’t like Kerry, but I also did not like the direction our country was headed. In retrospect though, it was the right thing, and I think most of those disappointed students would agree with me. If it weren’t for that loss, we would not have had the victory that really mattered with Obama in 2008.
I was even more excited for the election in 2008. The message of change really hit home with me (still does), and in Barack Obama I saw our future. I was honored to vote for him, and watching his speech on election night filled me with so many emotions. On that night, for the first time in my relatively young life, I understood how it felt to be truly proud of my country. One of my co-workers in Eugene got to be in Washington during that time, and she brought back election buttons for my parents and for me. I have a whole box filled with mementos from that election, so that one day I can share them with my children, and maybe help inspire them in the same way.
Most people know that Eugene is a fairly liberal town. It’s what I love most about it. It’s why I loved attending school there, working there after college, and one reason why I was so hesitant to leave my job there, even though it was time to move on. Eugene and UO are filled with open minded, forward thinking people. If you have spent much time with me (or taken a look at my car in the last four years), you know that I am fairly liberal in my beliefs as well. I credit most of that to my parents, who raised me to be open minded and think for myself; but I also credit some of it to my time in Eugene. I was raised in and currently live in a very close minded, conservative, and fairly uneducated part of Oregon. This is not an insult or criticism to the area; it’s simply the truth. When I was at UO, I met a lot of new and different people, who lived a lot of different lifestyles. If I hadn’t spent that time in Eugene, I might feel very differently about certain issues. My experiences there solidified my beliefs. More importantly, my experiences taught me that it is okay to have different political opinions from some of my friends and family, as long as we share the same values.
So, now we are here in 2012. Some of you probably think I should be keeping my big mouth shut and my opinions to myself. And that’s fine; you can think that. But the thing is, I’ve never been very good at keeping my mouth shut and my opinions to myself. Some of you have your own opinions, but don’t want to verbally announce them to the world. And that’s also fine . . . for you. But not for me. If I learned anything these last eight years, it’s that things won’t change unless you stand up for what you believe in and make your voice heard.
So here is my voice.
I believe in healthcare reform.
I believe in raising taxes. I would actually support a tax increase for everyone, including my middle-class self.
I believe we are in a better place then we were four years ago. I certainly am.
I believe in marriage equality, for EVERYONE.
I believe in moving forward.
I believe in Barack Obama.
And I will not apologize for the believing in any of these things.
I encourage everyone to make their own voice heard. Whatever your voice may be. You don’t have to agree with me. The point is, nothing in this country ever changed for the better because people stood by idly and watched. Things change for the better when people get out there, do something, and make their voices heard. Too many people do not stand up for their beliefs. Or even worse, they don’t vote! One of my biggest frustrations is to hear people complain about the state of the nation, and then say in the same breath that they aren’t even a registered voter. Get out there and VOTE. Make your words and beliefs count.
I encourage everyone to visit HealthCare.gov, and learn some real facts about healthcare reform. In particular, I recommend checking out the timeline of changes and reading about the key features of the law. I was introduced to this website through work last year (I work with insurance companies for a living), and I found it very enlightening. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about healthcare reform, and you should not make up your mind before you know the real facts.
I encourage everyone to listen to President Clinton’s speech from Wednesday night, if you have not done so already. He laid out the facts, plain and clear. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I also come from a world where 2 + 2 = 4. My mom is a math teacher; I know my arithmetic!
While you’re at it, I also encourage everyone to listen to President Obama’s speech from Thursday night. He gave a picture of how far we have come, and then explained why we can’t stop there. Why we need to continue to move forward, and how we will accomplish it.
And if, like me, you believe in moving forward, then I encourage you to get your free bumper sticker and let your voice be heard among all the people on the road!
I am raising my voice – forward, for the future. For my future, my parents’ future, and my children’s future.
Happy weekend, go Patriots, and rock on TBFC and Nabime!