I am making my first financial contribution to a political campaign. This is a big decision for me, as I am casting my faith in President Obama in a significant way, and also financially.
I was raised in what is considered to be the very low middle class, until my parents divorced when I was a teenager. Since then, my mom, sister, brother, and I have been living the life of the working poor, just missing the income line qualifying for food stamps, relying on HEAP to get us through the cold New York winters, barely scraping by month-to-month, going to college because of the faith and belief of scholarship committees and federal grants and loans.
My mom worked hard, raising us as a stay-at-home mom. Leaving my father was particularly difficult because of our financial dependence on him. But she did. And now, she works hard as a Head Start teacher, bringing hope and education to many families in similar and far worse situations than ours. She achieves so much for our country that she is undervalued for, both by Republicans in government and even some fellow citizens.
She teaches English to brilliant children who have emigrated from the Middle East, Sudan, South America, and on. In doing so, she teaches English to their wonderful, hardworking parents. She exceeds her job criteria, helping them get citizenship, finding them jobs, fighting for the children to get good health insurance so they can get their tonsils out or just get a flu shot. She is passionate in her belief that we are all created equal. She wants to give these children equal footing to start kindergarten on the same level as their middle- and upper-class counterparts.
I am 20 and in college, about to vote in my first presidential election. Giving monetary support is a big deal for me, since I never spend on “non-essentials.” But here’s the thing: I don’t view this contribution as non-essential. It is as essential as my college education, as my food, as my apartment. Because it will hopefully help the campaign of a politician I believe in, someone I trust to stand up for my rights as a young woman, as a student, and as an aspiring teacher. I believe that President Obama needs these four more years to continue fighting for women like my mother, for students like my sister and brother, and for children like my mom’s Head Start kids. I will do anything in my financial and personal power to help him get those years.