Walking around New York City on Saturday I stumbled on a Bernie Sanders Rally in Union Square. Sanders was supposedly at The Vatican this weekend so I was not expecting him to show up. The crowd seemed to be really pumped up and there were some strange sights that day; juxtapositions, oppositions, and near collisions!
I am Puerto Rican and I grew up speaking both English and Spanish in the home and just English everywhere else. My parents were bilingual. My Mom studied to be a nurse and my Dad was a street “tough” who was saved by my Mom. She always loves to tell the tale of how she got my Dad to stop smoking and drinking (okay, drinking was only moderated ,but still). Since my wife is of Eastern European descent we all speak English in my household. Yes, yes I know we robbed our kids of being bilingual. It wasn’t my fault really, I tried. Circumstances were against me. Topic for another post.
The point of all this is that my Spanish has become rusty and unlike language, my Spanish hasn’t evolved. So when I see new phrases mandated by current realities I get a little jolt. It’s a happy jolt as I like discovering new things (as everyone should). I was studying the new Washington Post/Univision poll on the Hispanic Electorate 2016. When I scrolled to the top I saw this hyperlink phrase; “Haga clic aquí para leer esta encuesta en español.” Haga clic, really? How does one say click in Spanish? Let me go to the handy web English to Spanish translator and… What do you know? Click translates to “hacer clic en.” That sounds weird to me. Okay I guess that is it then. Next time I need to hyperlink some text I am going to write next to it “Haga Clic”. That’s fun.
Speaking of the new Hispanic Electorate 2016 poll (haga clic) it looks like most hispanics really don’t like Donald Trump nor Ted Cruz (mirrors my feelings exactly) and just barely tolerate Marco Rubio. Forget Carson and Kasich, a significant part of the hispanic electorate don’t even know who he is! In the case of the Democratic party, 57% of Hispanics favor Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders (28%). I wonder how many Hispanics would vote for a Clinton/Sanders ticket?
Hispanics are 17% of the US populations (haga clic). That’s almost a fifth of the population! That is a lot of voting power. While we are a complex and multifaceted demographic, we are similar enough to know that a significant part wants to see a democrat in the White House come 2017. Obviously the Democrats would be wise to put a voter registration drive in place aimed at Latinos. Speak to us as people and not just as a means to the White House and we will get you there!
As a citizen of the U.S. I am struggling to decide who I will vote for in the coming election. Like Obama, Bernie Sanders has lofty ideas about social change and overcoming Capitalism’s darker side. But, just like President Obama, I worry that his -none too well though out- agenda will be easily obstructed by self interested Republicans.
Hillary Clinton on the other hand has a mind blowing resume and becoming the first female U.S. President in history has nothing but good to it! She is too politically savvy to have her agenda easily obstructed. But she also has a lot of political baggage, unfairly, not only hers, but her husband’s too. Her past mistakes are magnified by the media. Like many smart politicians her views evolve.
On the one hand you have an extraordinary politician with extensive experience in politics and world affairs (which is what I would want from a President) but whose vision does not quite reach the loftiness or revolutionary ideals of Sanders. On the other hand Bernie’s vision is probably not obtainable given the present realities of America.
What I would love to see is a Clinton/Sanders ticket. Think about it. Two extraordinary people with grand ambitions for our Country and it’s citizens. President Clinton with the knowledge and experience to get things done and Vice President Sanders, the moral compass to nudge her further along in the right direction for America and it’s citizens. Sanders would be a salve to Clinton’s elitism and political machinations. A bern cream if you will (okay, yes I went there).
Regardless of what the out come is in November it is our duty as people living and working in this country of ours to make our voices heard. We will protest when we need to and we will praise and cheer when the policies coming out of Washington are of benefit to all and not just the 1 percent. But most importantly of all we will vote. It’s the only way to get a human in the White House and not a Trump or Cruz (he is not really Spanish, is he?).
“Don’t worry Dad, I’ll help you get through your braces.” This is what my daughter told me this morning as I set off to get my braces put on by my orthodontist in New York. My daughter is 17 and I am 50
My daughter inherited my bad dental gene. Her teeth went every which way and she had a couple of impacted molars. My teeth are also crooked (but not for long) and in addition to having a couple of impacted molars as a kid and I also had 4 impacted wisdom teeth as an adult. The difference between my daughter’s dental history and mine is a stark example of how much harder poor people have it in a capitalist society. My wife and I make a decent middle class living. We have a house and a car and we both have positions at some well known Universities. When we were informed that my then 13 year old daughter needed braces we did not have to think about it. Our health plan covered about $1500 of the braces and with a monthly payment plan we were able to pay off the rest over the several years she needed to be seen by her orthodontist. Our health plan also covered the extractions needed to make room in her mouth for the dental corrections.
This contrasts starkly with my experience. When the dentist, which we went to see irregularly (and that is being kind) saw that I very much needed braces the first question he asked was whether or not we had health insurance. When my Mom told him no, he pensively held his chin while looking straight at me and said, “I guess he’ll be okay without braces.” End of story for any sort of dental care. For the next 10 years I experienced a crowded mouth, impacted teeth, bleeding gums, abcesses without any sort of treatment.
At 22 I was able to get a job as an photography assistant at a large educational institution. The job came with health benefits. Starting then I was able to get affordable dental care which entailed a lot of drilling and extractions and quarterly cleanings. My dental health improved immensely but through it all I refused to get braces. I am not quite sure if I was rebelling or I thought I was too old to get them. Every time I have gone to a new dentist over the years the first thing he or she tells me is that I need braces. This is the one thing I have always fought against with my dentists more out of rebellion as the years went by. You didn’t see it as necessary when I was poor and helpless so why should I give you my money now – that was my attitude. I had issues.
Finally last year my current dentist who I have been with for about 8 years showed me how my crooked teeth were causing severe bone loss and told me that if I did not get it fixed I would have really big problems in a few years. So I saw reason and just this morning finally got my braces. Again my health insurance and a monthly payment plan will see me through without any financial hardship.
Because I was poor and a minority I was made to suffer. I can just imagine what someone in my position who never was able to get a job with decent health coverage would have gone through. Well actually I don’t. My brother is a landscaper and even though he has worked for this particular company for decades and is a manager he does not have health insurance. When he gets a toothache or even an infection he resorts to home made remedies. Toothaches are treated with Anbesol, Listerine and whiskey! For a probable tooth infection he actually took antibiotics meant for lizards that he was able to get at a pet store!
Obama was my man when he passed the Affordable care Act and those Reps voting to repeal the ACA fill me with disgust. Bernie Sanders’ call for a Single Payer system fills me with delight and I hope America can get to Bernie Land from these far shores. We’ll never know unless we vote. Now is the time!
Ta-Nehisi Coates is a man who demands your attention. His book, Between The World And Me, left me in awe. In his latest piece for The Atlantic he has some wise words for all citizens in this disheartening age:
In the American system of government, refusing to vote for the less-than-ideal is a vote for something much worse. Even when you don’t choose, you choose. But you can choose with your skepticism fully intact. You can choose in full awareness of the insufficiency of your options, without elevating those who would have us forget into prophets. You can choose and still push, demanding more. It really isn’t too much to say, if you’re going to govern a country, you should know its history.