How does politics affect your daily life?

I first considered this question in 1972, when my brother’s two best friends turned 19 on the same day — December 4th — which happened to be #1 in the draft lottery. Both ended up going to Vietnam.

I spent the next ~15 years trying to get on the right career track and discovering my sexual identity, largely unaware of politics until 1986, when the Supreme Court decided the state of Georgia had a legitimate interest in criminalizing homosexual acts (Hardwick v. Bowers). In fact, it was the catalyst that turned me into the political news junkie I am today and set me on a new career path in media and political polling.

Healthcare is a political issue that affects all of us. I supported the Affordable Care Act, though my personal experience with it has been mostly dreadful, beginning right off the bat when I lost the plan I was told I could keep. It was a negotiated benefit from a pension that was supposed to cover me until I turned 65, but it didn’t meet the requirements of the ACA. I’m counting down to Medicare this year, after which I can expect to continue paying exorbitant rates for medications, since Obama cut a deal with Big Pharma to get their support for the ACA: By law, the government can’t negotiate drug prices for Medicare/Medicaid patients. Yeah, read that again.

Many of my negative experiences with politics happened because I was part of the LGBTQ community. I lost a couple of jobs for being a lesbian, with no legal recourse. Also, my first girlfriend and I weren’t allowed to rent a 1BR apartment. After a year together, we had to say goodbye because her student visa was up. It would be 35 years before politics allowed same-sex couples to marry and petition for domicile and citizenship. When Hardwick was overturned in 2003 (Lawrence v. Texas), it ended the threat of malicious prosecutions for being LGBTQ. However, to this day, it remains legal in much of the country for landlords to deny housing to same-sex couples, for healthcare professionals and business owners to refuse services, for adoption agencies to prohibit placement, and for employers to fire LGBTQ workers. Politics currently allows all this; it will take politics to change it.

Many of us have no choice but to get “political.” Workers see their jobs sent overseas or outsourced to cheaper suppliers. Pensions are gutted when private equity drives companies into bankruptcy. Our reproductive rights are under siege; communities of color are targeted by law enforcement, their lives ruined forever by disproportionate incarceration; sick people are denied treatment because they can’t pay; desperate asylum seekers are turned away en masse; young Latinos go to sleep each night wondering if tomorrow is the day they’ll be put on a bus to a country they don’t know, where they don’t even speak the language.

When people say they don’t like “politics,” I tend to think they’ve never felt threatened by our nation’s laws. In fact, I’d say they probably love politics; they just don’t like talking about other people’s problems.

How has politics affected your life?

4 Responses to “How does politics affect your daily life?”

  1. Well spoken, KG. My mom was involved in politics when I was a child in Boston. I still remember the house crowded with people from all walks of life talking amongst each other about current events. I used to have a bumper sticker that read, “Clean up politics, elect women” and started volunteering to help accomplish that in the late 1980’s. Still a WIP!

    • I was both saddened and irritated the other day to hear a woman say she really wanted to vote for a woman but didn’t think Americans would choose her over Trump. To which I answered, “Why not? Three million more chose Hillary.”

  2. In the past few years under 45 it has almost driven me crazy. I have seen the small gains made by the LGBTQ community chipped away a little at a time. I lost half of my family who always said they would have my back but apparently that wasn’t true. What upsets me the most is how many people in this country cannot see what is happening or they refuse to see.

    • Yes, it goes without saying that divisive politics under Trump has had a crushing effect on our relationships. And on our psyches as well. It was more than a year after the election before I could wake up in the morning without my first thought being the horror of the 2016 election.

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