Stop calling me! I don't need another reminder to vote.
What? I have 28 NEW email? I just deleted everything like 15 minutes ago. Oh right – more pleas for money and volunteers.
So now you're texting me? I just donated 30 minutes ago, and now you want more? How about some gratitude?
These are all election-related thoughts I've had over the last few weeks.
But even though I'm irritated, I am relieved that others are so dedicated to keep calling/texting/stopping by/emailing. It feeds my underlying guilt that I need to do more, more, more, but each interruption is still a little bit of hope.
My overwhelming stress/concern/frustration is that we are so close in Texas – and many other parts of the country – to making change happen in a big way next week. But we can only do that if people vote. I'm worried they won't. I'm worried they will be too disconnected, disengaged, cynical, hopeless, angry, and disempowered. I hope I'm wrong.
I am from a political family – VERY political. My dad was elected to the Texas State Senate when I was 11 days old. He has spent his entire career in public service; I have spent my entire life supporting that career. We didn't go to baseball games or on camping trips when I was a kid. Instead, I rode with my dad in parades, went to fish fries and barbeques, shook hands at fundraisers, and smiled through long speeches. My dad is running for Congress again now, and I couldn't be more proud of his incredible tenure in the U.S. House. Elections are a very big deal for my family – our Super Bowl, our Academy Awards, but with much more at stake than a game or awards ceremony.
Now I also look at this election from the perspective of a patient. And the "elections don't matter" argument, espoused by many non-voters, now makes me madder than ever. Those of us with chronic disease are especially vulnerable to the whims of our leaders and special interests – the big pharmaceutical companies, the health insurers. In the next couple of years, decisions by those leaders could matter A LOT to people like me:
· They could make it hard or impossible for those of us with preexisting conditions to get health insurance.
· They could rein in the cost of prescription drugs, or they could continue to let them go unchecked. (Drug costs for MS routinely surpass the $60,000 mark per patient per year!)
· They could restrict or allow access to certain medications that help people with MS.
· They could require reasonable quality standards for health insurance plans or allow junk plans to be sold.
Other issues are at stake too, like global warming – and our government's terrifying refusal to adequately recognize and address it. The consequences of climate change will soon touch nearly every living thing on this planet. I am not exaggerating or fear-mongering; we are on the brink of a point-of-no-return disaster with our climate.
Public education, immigration, gun violence, workers' rights, poverty, the racial divide – these only scratch the surface of the issues that will be impacted by the outcome of this election.
Yesterday, I was honored to join a group from Worker's Defense in South Austin to block walk, urging everyone to get to the polls. This time I was the one interrupting people from their Saturday morning routines, annoying some and hopefully motivating others. On Election Day, November 6, I'll make phone calls to remind folks to get to the polls. This election is critically important for me, for my kids, for our community, and for everyone.
Please share what you're doing to help get out the vote and to support your chosen candidates during the next week. For more info and voting resources, check out VOTE411 or any number of other online resources.
And if someone knocks on your door to ask for your vote or remind you to cast your ballot, be friendly, and thank them for stopping by.