I write very little political material here because there are so many more people who are better at it than am I. I generally write about popular culture, science and technology, and early life experiences.
That does not mean that I am apolitical. It is far from it.
Please let me recount a recent experience (last week) that shows a little of what I do. I am very low key, and affect only a few people at a time. But I think that this is still important work.
Those of you who read my three regular posts here, Pique the Geek on Sunday evenings at 9:00 Eastern, My Little Town, Wednesday evenings at the same time, and Popular Culture, (same time on Friday evenings) know that I am pretty much attached to one person who is referred to as The Woman (previously as The Girl but since her 20th birthday earlier this month asked for a more mature handle). Well, more than pretty much attached, but this is a different subject.
Let me tell you just a tiny bit about her. Her mum gave her away, her adopted mum was killed in an automobile accident when she was about 11, and she was impregnated by a player at 15. She loves The Little Girl very much, and is struggling to deal with the situation in which she has found herself.
She is bright and beautiful, and we are best friends, by her own words, now. She is learning that being independent is what she really needs for herself and The Little Girl, but is forced to rely on government assistance for food for herself and for The Little Girl. Her adoptive mum's sister and her husband give them a place to live and amenities such as running water, electricity, and transportation. Of course they provide more than that, but you get the idea. Henceforth I shall refer to them as her parents, with pronouns to match.
The Woman gets WIC and a Commonwealth of Kentucky managed program which is essentially "Food Stamps", although real food stamps are no longer. She also gets the Kentucky managed Medicaid program for herself and The Little Girl. WIthout those, they would, and her family would, be destitute. Do you know how much it costs to have a baby, with the prenatal care and this time, three and a half years since? It is a LOT.
OK, now you know what you have to know about her circumstances. Lots of people have had hard knocks. Now, here are her ambitions, and I sincerely think that my influence on her has had some positive effect.
First, she wants to complete the requirements for her high school diploma before the end of the year, and she is bright enough to do it. Since the father of The Little Girl is ALWAYS in arrears in child support payments (he is 23 or so and has three other children with two other women), he is little help. It costs $300 to get your diploma after successfully passing the online test. We have begun plans for me to tutor her so that she can pass first time. She was really doing well in school before becoming pregnant, and she is smart.
Second, she wants to get some sort of a job to make her own money at the same time. She does not drive, but I can take her wherever and whenever, and her aunt and uncle are willing to help with that as well. But that will likely involve some sort of subsidized childcare.
Third, she wants to start college this January after she gets her diploma. There are lots of programs that will help her with that, and some of them involve work study, Pell grants, and several programs specifically tailored to help young, single parents cope with studies, work, and child care.
Forth, and most importantly, she told me, "Dave, I don't want to have to depend on others, either some man, my family, or the government to take care of me and The Little Girl forever. I want to be able to provide for her and me soon, and I am ready to work hard."
She, until last week, could not care less about politics. I sat with her late one evening on her front porch and explained to her what was at stake in this election year. I told her, quite correctly, if the Republicans and specifically Romney, win, her present condition and her future hopes will be dashed. Her "parents" do not have enough income (they are retired, but with a very decent retirement income, thanks to him being retired military and later civilian Social Security and wise investments) to do all that she needs.
The irony is that THEIR income is in large part from government plans! But I digress.
I explained to her that the Republicans would take away just about every advantage that she has right now, and believe me, The Woman does not have that many advantages. She is not poor, but not middle class, either. She wants to be middle class and make her own way. I explained that the vision the we Democrats have is to help folks like her, and then, in their own time, they pay enough back in taxes to help others like her.
She had a few specific questions, and I answered them, but they were about Commonwealth questions (who are our Senators? Who is our Representative?). e. g. so not pertinent here.
Then I made my move. "The Woman, would you like for me to print out a voter registration application for you so that you can vote in November?"
She did not hesitate. "Yes, Dave, please print out one for me. I want to send it in and be able to vote."
I did. In Kentucky you have to specify if you are registering as a Democrat, a Republican, or "Other". Kentucky has closed primaries, so I explained to her that it only means that early in the race are you prohibited from voting for candidates in the other primary, and told her, even though Kentucky is a red state (I had to explain that as well), she can vote for whomever she pleases in the general election. This is sort of a difficult point to get through to people except for us political junkies. She asked me to indicate on the form that she was registering as a Democrat.
I printed out the form and even filled out an envelope and put a stamp on it. By now those of you who are not familiar with me must be "getting it" that I am very much in love with her, but that is beside the point. I gave her the papers, but she wanted to review them carefully, and she did. The very next day she signed the application and I put it in her mailbox for her, since she and I have been visiting on quite a regular basis. When the letter carrier picked it up, she said, "Yeh! I am going to be a registered voter! Thank you, Dave!"
But there is more. Just getting ONE new Democrat only keeps up with attrition. That evening her "parents", who have not voted in decades, were interested in what kind of document that I had brought their daughter and why it was so important. Do not get me wrong, they both know that I have only the best intentions for her and The Little Girl, who I think of as my own, and who told me that she would like me to be her Daddy today.
She and I told them what it was about, and then The Woman needed to put The Little Girl down for the night. I talked with her parents about those same issues, and after about ten minutes both of them wanted me to print out applications for them, too. Her dad immediately wanted me to deem him as a Democrat, but her mum's family has always voted Republican. I explained to both of them that in the general election it does not matter how you register, but in our part of the Commonwealth there are LOTS more primary elections on the Democratic ticket than on the Republican one. She then said, "Well, fill it out for both of us as Democrats."
I did so. When I was visiting The Woman today and the letter carrier just waved with no mail, The Woman said, "Dang! I was hoping to have my voter registration card today!" That is enthusiasm!
Later this evening, her mum found the unfilled forms for those two and said, "Dave, we have GOT to get these filled out in mailed".
I agreed, and tomorrow or the next day I shall gently remind them of that. I am positive that they will be registered Democrats in a few days.
Now for the best part. Most of the rest of the family are not registered voters. I have a week or two to get THEM registered, and I shall. The Woman is kind of evangelical about registering, and I think that I can get five or six others registered as Democrats before the 30 day cutoff.
Now you know that just because I do not often write about politics does not make me apolitical. Am I doing the right thing? I know so, and I truly love The Woman. Wish us well? We spent 12 hours together today, with The Little Girl all of the time. I really have very special feelings for both of them.
Doc, aka Dr. David W. Smith