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Opinion / Uncategorized

If Not Now, Then When? If Not You, Then Who?


It’s six o’clock in the morning and I’m sitting in my office, drinking coffee, eating yogurt and blueberries and putting a schedule together for the next three hours before I have a meeting with the Governor’s Chief of Staff. With careful planning and any luck, I can give 20 folks the information they need to register to vote. I can encourage 15 people to make choices that I believe are in their own best interest when they go to the polls, and I can set up a schedule that will help get them to their polling places on November 6th if they need my assistance. I’m not doing this because I have a lot of free time on my hands, which I don’t, but because I get it that what happens will impact the lives of millions of children and their families and communities. This time is sacred and it will be reserved every day to do this kind of work until the election.

I know that no matter how passionate we are about making a difference and how committed we are to changing lives, we can’t do it alone.

We depend on our leaders to support our efforts and share our vision of the future, from the President to Members of Congress to our state legislators and locally elected officials. We’d be hard pressed to serve the children and young people in our programs without the funding streams that come from Washington, DC and our state capitals, our city councils and our school boards. We don’t need a government that makes bureaucracy crazy making, but we do need one that supports policies and programs that create a better future for our children and families and communities, and especially those who are the most vulnerable.

I haven’t always agreed with all of President Obama’s decisions over the last four years and I wish some things had played out differently, but I’ve supported him. I’ve watched both conventions, read all the newspapers, watched all the television ads and I’m done with how Mitt Romney has written off 47 percent of Americans who he believes see themselves as victims and are entitled to hand-outs from the government. I know first-hand that hundreds of thousands of people who work in afterschool programs have incredibly demanding jobs. They’re not victims, they’re survivors – and they’re making the kind of difference that matters to our generation and every future generation.

Many of these folks are women, and a lot are single parents.

I’m appalled that Vice Presidential contender Paul Ryan and many other candidates don’t believe women are capable of making decisions about their own lives. This is absurd, demeaning and dangerous. They make decisions every day, most of which are life-changing and life-enhancing, We can stop the madness by telling the world how we feel at the polls and by encouraging everyone we know to exercise their right, and in my view their obligation, to vote. We talk a lot about empowering children. Let’s do our best to ensure that the adults we work with feel empowered.

Mitt Romney, and many Congressional candidates and speakers at the Republican Convention, say that individuals have built this economy. They’re wrong. I’m very clear that while I’ve been very successful, and sometimes in the top one percent in the country in earnings, this isn’t all about me. It would never have happened without the support of hundreds, if not thousands, of people like you. We’re all in this together. My success has always depended on your success, and the same is true for all of us whether we’re young or old, straight or gay, poor or rich, well-educated or under-educated, white or of color.

We have a new generation coming up.

Let’s not forget that the messages they receive will have a huge impact on the way they see the world and their place in it. Let’s be sure they have a chance to change the world just as you, and hopefully I, are doing. Make a commitment to vote. Help others register to vote. Do everything you can to make a difference in this election at every level. Act as if the lives, and the lives of everyone we care about, depend on it. It does!

Author Profile: @andriaf

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