I don’t have a lot of energy to write at the moment. I taught six consecutive school days in a high school classroom, which was a lot of fun, but tiring. Different type of environment, and I spent a lot of energy helping the kids stay on task. And then, of course, I caught the virus they were sharing… and spent the weekend feeling pretty miserable. Better enough last night to get to Grant’s first SOGO concert of the year, and enjoyed myself.
Feeling good enough to get a start on the NaNo novel, not a good start, I had to spend a rather large chunk of writing and time wandering around before a good story began to gel. But now I am thinking it isn’t really meeting my need as an author. Second-guessing! Not a good trait…
What follows becomes a bit political in tone, fair warning that I am not advocating for any party or person, just expressing my concerns that people who could vote, don’t!
Election day is almost here — Tom and I already put our ballots in the collection box by the fire station. We have voted absentee our entire married lives, with one exception when we lost our ballots and had to go to the polling location where the very elderly poll workers tried to tell us we couldn’t have our very young children in the booth with us. Fortunately, I knew my rights and wasn’t about to be dissuaded!
Now that all voting in our state is done “by mail” it simplifies things considerably. Most people prefer being able to sit and think about what’s on the ballot, using the voter’s pamphlet and other materials to help with the decision. A person can still vote in person, but now must go to the county seat and use a provisional ballot.
I am a firm believer in the responsibility and right of citizens to vote. Those whose voices are most needed, however, the poor, minorities, disabled people and the elderly often don’t vote. And without their voices, a democratic process is incomplete. I remember that, after my grandmother’s stroke, I encouraged her to vote in the elections. She was no longer able to mark her ballot herself, but all states have provisions to allow people with physical infirmities to vote and have those votes counted.
It is important that every person take advantage of their right to vote and be heard, or (as has been seen in recent months) those in power will try to wrest those rights from them!
To be honest, since the “Citizens United” decision by the United States Supreme Court, the only thing that keeps our democratic republic from reverting to a plutocracy is that corporations cannot vote, and cannot legally compel employees to vote for or against specific things. The people still have a secret ballot, and the working classes still outnumber the wealthy. If the people have the will, the wealthy and well-connected will not become overlords. And yet, when we look at the government of today, even at the local level, a disproportionate number of wealthy people hold public office, making decisions on behalf of constituencies that are primarily working class.
It is this concept, that the wealthy hold the power, that seems to be lacking in conversations about the politics. The people who are in charge consider a yearly income of $200,000 “average.” I am not sure I know anyone who earns that much! How can such people understand my hopes, fears, and needs? I know that I do not identify as middle class — though I know we earn more than the federal definition for poverty, and have since our children were little, Tom’s income hasn’t increased to keep pace with inflation and so we are gradually feeling the pinch as we pay for groceries, gasoline and other necessities. We have rarely taken vacations away from home… other than weekend visits to relatives within a day’s drive. We are paring back on expenses where we can, even as I try to find a full-time position. Next year, I will need to do ‘whatever it takes’ and consider districts that are out of my comfort range for driving. I need more regular, dependable employment.
I am not unemployed, but the nature of my employment is that I don’t get unemployment pay for the weeks and months that schools are closed. I earn less than half per hour of a full-time teacher, with the same qualifications and experience, and some would say more difficult working conditions. Because I was home with the children for so long, if I am injured and become unable to work, I don’t have enough “credits” that are current to receive disability pay. I have no retirement savings. What money I earn is going toward maintaining the house and cars, professional-enough attire, clothes for the children, and “professional development” opportunities to demonstrate to employers that I take my career seriously.
No, I am not middle class… and I puzzle over those who are in my situation who think they are, and align themselves with politicians who speak about helping the middle class and ignore the people like us.
Even more, I puzzle over those who could vote, and choose not to, then bemoan their fates as laws increasingly favor those with more resources and put barriers in the way of those who have fewer resources.