This was originally a comment I posted in Robinswing's Sistahspeak diary earlier today, and I got a suggestion to expand on it and turn it into a diary. I didn't want to at first, for fear of starting a meta-war that I cannot handle, but I figure that it may do some good.
I have my misgivings about the Obama Agenda. I have my criticisms, but today I wanted to share with you all why I still have hope, and why I still believe in Barack Obama and the Congressional Democrats. It is also a story of how legislation can be crafted, passed, and help normal people (like me!). The message I want to send here is that giving up hope in the progressive agenda, no, in the Obama Agenda, will not help us. It will hurt us. So many of us here at dKos, and across America put their hopes in dreams in this one man, and to abandon him and his party now would be folly.
So, follow me below the fold, if you would like, to find out why I haven't lost faith yet.
I am a poor community college student with no connections. I grew up in the barios of Salem, Oregon, which I admit, aren't as bad as some of the bad places in bigger cities, but it was infested with gangs and violence. I grew up with lesbian parents, and 7 people in a cramped 3 bedroom apartment. You know, the very definition of a "humble beginning"
The point is, I have no money and connections, but it has been my dream (and, consequently, my parents expectation) that I would be the first in my family to graduate from college. Thats right, my entire family, going back generations on both my mom and dad's side have never graduated college. No one has ever even come close to ATTENDING any place of higher learning. So, I had a lot of pressure growing up to perform academically.
Unfortunately, I wasn't up to the task. I lollygagged all throughout my education in the public school system. I always did ALRIGHT, but I never really connected with any of my teachers. None of them could ever get me to care about the next assignment, or get me excited to learn more about the topic we were studying. As an affect of my poor grades, my mother got discouraged. When I was 17, she gave me an ultimatum: Either join the United States Air Force, or be homeless.
So I joined up, and survived Basic Military Training. I wasn't a very good airman, and ended up force shaping out of the Air Force because I wasn't mature enough to understand fully the things they were trying to teach me. At the time, I felt like I had been forced out, a victim of them targeting me not only for my mother's sexual orientation, but because of my political affiliations and beliefs. I refused to accept responsibility for my actions, and I did it at my own folly.
I floated around from job to job for the next couple of years. I was a mortgage banker, a security guard, a pizza delivery driver. In September of 2007 I met my wonderful fiancee, Ellie, who had already been to college and graduated with an AA in criminal justice.
She, unlike so many others in my life, actually encouraged me to go back to school. She told me I was damn smart, and it would be a shame to was such intellect on stupid McJobs for the rest of my life. At the time, I didn't agree with her. I figured it had been my lot in life to forever be a grunt worker at some fast food chain, being commanded to clean the commodes by some sixteen year old acned punk who has no social skills. I didn't believe in myself.
Then, I saw Barack Obama on television on night sometime in 2008. He was standing there, talking about college. He said it was everyone's duty to go back to school. It was an American duty. It felt like he was talking directly to me. Telling me that I can do it if I would give it a shot. For the first time, I felt like I was worth something. I know, its pathetic to be that connected to someone I have never met, let alone ever talked to, but what can I say, the man inspired me something fierce.
It was then I decided to go back to school. I immediately applied for financial aid, and got all my forms in and registered for classes. I have had a few set backs, but I am humming right along. This year, I graduate from Chemeketa Community College with an AAOT (Oregon Transfer Degree).
The problem was, though, my fiancee and I barely had enough money to make ends meet. I had to take on a full time job and go to school full time just to get by, as did Ellie. We did everything we could, but it was to no avail. Ellie ended up dropping out, and I reduced my load to part time. But we never gave up.
This year, something happened with my financial aid that I was not expecting.
Well, like normal, I applied for financial aid around February. Got it in early, got it processed early so I could be first in the hopper for aid. Little did I know that in March, the PPACA (and college loans package) would be passed by Congress and signed by the president.
Well, my college finished processing my financial aid last week. I got the last of my paperwork in, and they sent me my award letter. Much to my surprise, my financial aid money, per term, had DOUBLED. Doubled! When I was receiving financial aid before, I barely had enough money to buy books, supplies, and pay for tuition. Now, I can live on it. Live on it! I don't have to worry about some dumbass minimum wage job to survive and go to school. I can FOCUS on my school work.
Thank you, congressional Democrats and Barack Obama.
But that is not all, the PPACA help us in another, unexpected way as well:
Ellie recently got extremely sick. We couldn't take her to a doctor because, being poor college students, we can't afford health insurance. They offer it at my community college, sure, but its some astronomical price per month that we couldn't even begin to afford.
Well, about maybe 3 weeks ago, my fiancee's father received word he could add his daughter to his health plan (which is covered by the Teachers Union, and is high quality).
We were ecstatic. It is very kind of my father in law to do that for her, but even more than that, it wouldn't have even have been possible without Barack Obama and the Congressional Dems.
I guess there is something I want everyone to take away from my story: Between voting for Democrats and staying home this November there is only one choice, and that is vote. Vote, if only just because of stories like mine. You CAN make a difference in others lives by simply voting. You can help give people a leg up in this life where there was none there to be found before. You can help people like me and Ellie. I am not saying I deserve anything more than anyone else does just because I had a bad childhood or whatever, all I am saying is that people like me at least deserve a SHOT, and you are giving it to them by voting for dems. In this election, and in future elections.
Because if you don't vote for dems, you are voting for republicans. And what the hell would a republican do for a person like me? Think about that.