I voted yesterday. My mother voted yesterday. My father, a lifelong political activist for the Left, voted yesterday for the first time in more than two decades. What? Political activist = has not voted in more than two decades? Doesn't add up. The reason my dad has not voted in countless previous elections has largely, until the past couple of years, had nothing to do with his decade-long struggle with ill health. So how does activism and a lack of participation in the political process connect?
My father believes that voting under the confines of the political landscape in the U.S. does not represent choice. In a way, by not exercising the right that so many, and he personally, fought for over the years -- my dad fought in Korea -- he has been fighting even further against the system.
This is why I was honored by the fact that my parents and I pulled the levers in this election. I am probably 90% aligned with my father in his beliefs about the political situation in this country, but the remaining 10% compelled me -- ever since I first became aware of him even earlier than the 2004 Democratic Convention -- to voice my support of and vote for Barack Obama for President of the United States. My father's vote in the current election is, therefore, for me, a mild ray of hope.
I always do vote. My vote on November 4, 2008 was, however, cast in honor of two people... my parents. See the note that I wrote to my family and dear friends one day before the election in tribute to them and to Barack Obama:
"Attached to this email is a photograph (*To this email to my family and friends, I attached a photo of my dad) of my father, Frank Ufert, currently age 74, United States Army veteran of the Korean War, former photographer, journeyman cabinetmaker/construction supervisor, who was in his own, unfortunately failed business for nearly 20 years, then became an OSHA construction safety officer -- who, incidentally, survived 9-11, having escaped his office in New York's World Trade Center plaza while having to return to work in a wheelchair after suffering a stroke several years prior because he could not afford to retire (he was the only OSHA Northeast Region employee to work on a part-time basis because of his unique medical and financial condition) -- now, officially, retired.
Many of you know that my father is a diabetic who, at age 65 in 1999, had triple-bypass surgery and then, as I mentioned above, a stroke in 2000 which left him permanently paralyzed on the left side of his body. In his ongoing struggle with his diabetes, he now has a defibrillator, has experienced debilitating glycemic seizures throughout the ensuing decade and is currently battling a very serious bout of dangerously reduced red blood cell production.
Many of you also know that my mother, Josephine Ufert, daughter of Italian immigrant parents, is currently 80 years old, worked with my dad in his business and then for the McGraw-Hill Companies in an administrative position before retiring during a corporate staff reduction. When my father fell ill, my mom -- not by choice but by love and, moreover, because of my parents' financial situation -- became his sole caregiver. While my dad's illness nearly killed him two decades before it should have -- and continues to do so a decade before normal life expectancy -- my mother's burden of care for my father is, equally, taking the life out of a woman formerly far-younger-than-her-years.
For many reasons, but mostly for my parents, I will vote tomorrow for Barack Obama for President of the United States. Trickle-down economy does not work. It is a miserable failure. The rich are greedy and will always be. Even for those in the U.S. who are medically insured like my parents -- so many are, tragically, not -- the opportunities to receive appropriate care in direct proportion to their ability to pay for insurance (at the low end of the cost spectrum) and to their years of labor in the workforce are abysmal. The fact that continued discussions from the right exist about further privatization and deregulation of healthcare are reason alone to vote for anyone, good or bad, who even wants to attempt to address this situation differently.
My vote for Barack Obama -- yes, he is another meglomaniacal, self-serving politician but the most progressive, intelligent, socially responsible and, seemingly, at least somewhat sincere of the kind -- is to get dialogue started and to quell, in part, the unchallenged voice and power of the radical political right in the United States. Issues of the economy and the needs of working-class people, of a woman's right to choose, of tax policy, of the costs of education, of other critical civil rights will, at least, be DISCUSSED again in an open forum. The fact that in a country with a nearly 250-year formal identity, with the same number of years of diversity in its population, with a presidency that in 2009 will be 220 years old, we can, for the first time, have a President that represents so many facets of the identity of the nation, would also nearly be compelling enough for me to vote for him.
But my vote for Barack Obama is in honor of my parents and all those who have been fighting against disgusting greed in terms of healthcare in the U.S.
GET OUT AND VOTE IF YOU ARE ELIGIBLE. DRAG ANYONE ELIGIBLE TO VOTE WHO MAY NOT WANT TO BE PART OF THE PROCESS. AND I IMPLORE YOU -- AND/OR THOSE YOU KNOW -- TO CAST YOUR VOTE FOR BARACK OBAMA FOR THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I just participated in the most important political process of my lifetime. My 80 year-old mother and 74 year-old, disabled, severely health-compromised father, also just made it to the polls. If you are an eligible voter and have not yet voted, please, please get out and exercise your right... This time, it is a must.
I'm praying for a victory for Barack Obama and Joe Biden!