There is nothing that will help a writer fully develop a villain better than listening to politics in an election year. It’s made up of people whose ideas of how to reach the exact same prosperity and opportunities are called by the other side naive, even evil.
When I was 24 Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash. I had helped out on his campaign every weekend and had even appeared in a couple of commercials for him. I have not been involved in politics since that 2002 election. Until now.
I haven’t been volunteering for a specific candidate like I did in the past. Instead, I’m telling my story. Trying to put a human face on the issues that have turned into statistics and dollar signs. These last four years have been the hardest of my life. Due to my chronic disease, and the reactions to medicines taken for it, I have lost my job, lost my health insurance, and come close to death more than once. When politicians talk about healthcare and social welfare reforms they are talking about my life. So when I see or hear someone in my personal range talk about these things like the people using or wanting these services are all moochers who just need to “pull themselves up by the boot straps” I tell my story.
It’s not easy for me. In fact, I mostly hate it because I know my words will have no effect. Most times the response I get is one so off the mark I know that the person was not truly listening to me. For example, today I read a comment about how much money could be saved if only those at risk were insured. I responded by saying driving is a risk. At any moment we could be hit by an under insured* or uninsured motorist. The response I got was, “Secure the boarders!” That woman was so set against anything that might challenge her belief she blurted random rhetoric.
Even knowing my words will probably mean nothing to the person on the receiving end, I still say them. I used to bear these comments with shame and silence, but no more. I am strong enough to speak up now so, I do. I figure if everyone who depended on these services spoke up eventually we would become a friend, a neighbor, a human being instead of a number.
*Most states don’t require more than $300,000 coverage and most of us (US Citizens) get the minimum. Extended stays in hospitals with surgeries could reach over a million very quickly.