Nope, I'm not going to use this space to lecture about how many of our people had their heads cracked open and hands chopped off and necks wrung behind voting. I'm not going to recall, either, how many women marched and beat their chests and suffered to get us our voting rights. I trust that my readers—who are super smart and super on it—don't need to be lectured about such things, because we all know that it would be so wrong on so many levels to let all that head cracking and hand chopping and neck wringing and marching and beating to have happened in vain.
Nope. Instead, what I'd like to focus on is the importance of choice and values and voting your conscience—and using your ballot to affect change for the most vulnerable among us: our babies. Before you pull the lever/push a button/write a name in the voting booth today, consider supporting candidates who:
- Want your kid to have quality, affordable healthcare... Some 7.5 million children were uninsured last year. That is about one in 10 children. President Obama's health care legislation made it so that our kids can stay on insurance plans as dependents up to age 26, that they won't be excluded from coverage based on preexisting conditions, and we parents don't have to worry about lifetime benefit limits for their care. Any candidate invested in trying to dial this back need not have the job. (Learn more about Children’s Health Care.)
- Care about what your kid is eating... Nearly one in four children lives at risk of hunger. Meanwhile, one in three children in this country are either overweight or obese. Though Michele Obama has made child nutrition a priority and President Obama has pledged to spend an additional $10 billion on child nutrition over 10 years, Congress is trippin'—stalling on child nutrition legislation and trying to jack food stamps to fund the nutrition bill. (Learn more about Obesity and Hunger Reduction.)
- Want your kid to have a quality education... Only one in three fourth-graders, and one in three eighth-graders, reads at a proficient level, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the “Nation’s Report Card” administered by the Department of Education. Vote for the candidate who supports initiatives like Race to the Top and other meaningful legislation that moves beyond testing our kids to death and really focuses on giving our kids quality schooling. (Learn more about Quality Education for all Children.)
- Support real legislation that lifts our kids out of poverty... One in five children lived in poverty in 2009, according to the U.S. Census, and the poverty rate increased or stayed the same in every state last year. If they're talking all that "trickle down" mess and vowing to vote against Earned Income Tax Credits and the Child Tax Credit—solid relief for the middle class—vote for their opponent. With a quickness. (Learn more about Children and Poverty.)
I know for sure that there are many of us who are disenfranchised with the system, ticked off about the state of the economy, and desperate to feel, hear and see the changes we were promised. But shutting down or, worse, voting against your conscience to spite the people who couldn't undo in two years eight years worth of straight madness, is plain stupid.
10 minutes, and you're helping make a difference.
(For more information about legislation that helps our kids and to figure out the candidates who would best help shepherd that legislation into law, check out Voices For America's Children, a child advocacy organization. This piece was written as part of VFAC's Vote Kids First Blog Carnival.)