In college, I rode the liberal band wagon and idolized my free-spirited professors. I was inspired as they spoke of a brotherhood of man and equality for all through socialized health care and other "big government" dreams.
As a political science major, I even traveled to D.C. for a fellowship to fight for stem cell research. Oh yes, my blood ran blue.
Then something interesting happened after I graduated: I fell in love, got married and bought a house. All of a sudden, I awoke from my dream of a government that made all the rules for us. I awoke to the sobering reality of income taxes, a mortgage payment, property taxes, health insurance and a full-time job. No more was I in the false sense of reality that was college.
My stepdad once said something to me when I was in college that did not mean much at the time. He asked me, being practically a straight A student, if I would mind to get B's and C's so that everyone in my class could pass. The professors can only give so many A's, he told me. (i.e., if the top 10 percent of students earn an "A," the bottom 10 percent fail.)
Ah, now, I get it. As I enter my late 20s, I constantly think about the future of my family. I think about what world I may be bringing our future children into. I see others with whom I graduated still going out to bars every night, playing video games, mooching off their parents as to avoid the real world. While that is their prerogative, my husband and I both work full-time jobs, plus several part-time jobs, so we can have the kind of health insurance we want, live the kind of life we want and honor our obligations as best we can.
As Election Day draws nearer, my mind races with questions, knowing that whoever is elected could lead our country and shape my family's reality well into my 30s. It frightens me that my family may wait in line for hours for a doctor I am not allowed to choose.
I know there are exceptions to every rule, and life is not always fair. However, do we want to give away those A's we worked so hard for to those who only earned an F?
What are plans for special needs children?
I have heard how the Obama-Biden ticket is working for people with disabilities and how the McCain-Palin ticket really understands the needs of families with special members. But neither ticket is bringing forth their plans beyond the fact that they have one.
Nor is Sarah Palin an expert on disabilities because she suddenly has an infant son with Down syndrome.
An expert on raising a child with a special need is a parent who has actually raised such a child. A person who has a school age or adult child and has had to deal with the governmental educational programs and health programs and transitional programs and Social Security and Medicaid. That is an expert.
So I will tell you that I consider my self an expert. Not on all disabilities. Not on all special needs issues. But on those issues which have and do affect my son. Elie is now 23 years old and has just moved from living with me and his father to his first house with a supportive adult friend.
So I have questions to which I would like answers:
Do any of the candidates support increased funding to and expansion of Medicaid waivers so that our family members may live and work and worship in their community? The point of Medicaid waiver funding is to keep our family members out of expensive and inappropriate institutions.
Which one of the candidates would support portability of services across counties and states? As things are now families must make the decision to leave their family member behind when duty transfers, change of life needs or other reasons cause them to leave their original place of residences.
Since the original funding comes from the federal government to the state, why must the people who move need to start all over again from intake through accessibility as if they had never qualified previously?
Who plans to use the federal budget to not just order mandates, but fund special education during school years so that our children are better prepared to enter their community as adults?
To Gov. Palin who has a special understanding of the needs of families, would you be willing to fight against McCain's hatchet on spending for Medicaid?
Our media seems thrilled with reporting sound bites and calling it information and debates which are merely posturing harangues but certainly not debates. We have seen heart stirring photo opportunities with baby kissing and candidates with tears in their eyes after meeting constituents.
What I want to see and know is exactly what form of direct action will happen with the election of one of these candidates? How will life be for people with special needs? How will our tax dollars be prudently spent to cover the manifested needs of the population and not line the pockets of rich donors?