Boy, the posts and the comments about the candidates have been flying fast and furious here at Age of Autism. I'd thought I'd steer clear of commentary, but that's sort of what I do, isn't it? So here I am, putting my opinion out there for you to, er, enjoy. I could say this in two sentences: I'm not a one issue voter. Not even this time around. Of course, it's far more fun to expound.
I'm worried about the cost of heating my home this winter and that my parents' budget payment for oil has doubled since last year while their income has been eaten alive by overall inflation. I wonder will Mark and I ever be able to afford anything close to the house we had to sell 3 three years ago when autism and unemployment joined forces and almost bankrupted us. I wonder if healthcare will ever include my kids for real so that I can get speech and OT and PT and biomedical treatments for them. We pay $12,000 out of pocket for insurance premiums and get precious little in return. The current autism insurance legislation in my homestate of CT does a big fat nothing for my kids. My husband's company is self-insured, which makes them exempt from having to include autism coverage.
I worry about current and future wars and terrorism and saber rattling. I worry that the tall guy in the cave is laughing at us while women in Pakistan (our ally!) are buried alive for protesting their arranged marriages. During which time we're spending billions in the general vicinity, but haven't found that cave. Or made life better for those women.
I worry about the familiar chill emanating from halfway around the world in a country that reminds me of tall fur hats and vodka. I think about Supreme Court justices retiring and what that might mean for my three daughters who, as women with autism, might face sexual assault and unplanned pregnancy. (That thought makes me want to gulp a glass of vodka.)
I lament that my little brother, who has had a faithful partner for over sixteen years and is an honest, law abiding, tax paying citizen of America, has no legal rights for his loving relationship and is considered a second (or worse) class citizen by many. I also worry about having a government that even considers mandating health care choices for me and my family. And that includes vaccination mandates, which I am against. Then I worry about what having a leader who wants to teach creationism in public schools means for our education system.
I worry that some Americans actually think that voting for a woman whose birth canal is as busy as the Panama Canal automatically means she'll advocate for every child in America. I worry that having a child with a clear cut genetic difference for which there is prenatal testing is so different from having a vaccine injured child that the two worlds will never approach science in the same way. I worry that we'll drill for a whopping ten barrels of oil in a pristine state instead of making national sacrifices and cutting back and then putting American ingenuity to work on solutions to our energy needs. We have 3% of the world's oil reserves and yet we use over 25% of the world's oil. (T. Boone Pickens says so.) Even if you can't count back millions of years into evolution, you should be able to see that the math of drilling in Alaska is false campaign promise of energy security.
My God, how am I not popping Paxil like Certs? I worry a lot!
I'm definitely not a one issue voter. That said, I am looking for the candidate who tells me (s)he will look at all possible causes of autism, including our vaccination program, even if that means a shift in our public health policy, because my kids are as important as the proverbial herd. And who will help me treat my kids' autism right now. But that candidate might only exist in my dreams. So I'll have to vote for the candidate who meets the other urgent requirements on my list.
I have to have enough financial security to tend to my own flock - I need a strong economy for that. And I want to know who will help me take care of my girls throughout their lifetimes. I'm not looking for a government handout - but the reality of autism is that few parents, if any, will be able to finance the care many of our children will need and still support themselves in some sort of retirement. I think taking care of disabled Americans is as important as bailing out Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (And maybe Lehman later this week from what I'm hearing.)
I'm worried that foreclosures among senior citizens, once our most financially conservative and sound demographic, are up 125% this year as they struggle with stagnant income, anemic interest rates and skyrocketing costs of living.
Senator McCain or Obama, Senator Biden or Governor Palin, can you ease a mother's mind that when I die, my children will not be left to the mercy to a patchwork system that doesn't know what to do or make of people with autism? My kids don't HAVE bootstraps. Autism has robbed them of the ability to care for themselves. (Dammit, now I need a Paxil and a tissue.)
Even worse, now I've got this horrible song running through my head. And I'm afraid no such thing exists.
Kim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. She doesn't actually take Paxil, although coffee and chocolate are daily requirements for sanity.