I was visiting my family in South Georgia a couple weeks ago, playing with my brilliant and beautiful great-granddaughter, Reaghan, when she noticed the pin I wear every day.
“What’s this?” she asked tapping on its face.
“It’s an angel,” I said. “I wear it all the time.”
I knew there would come a day when I would tell her about Uncle Mike. I wasn’t sure where to start. She’s almost 4, so she understands that people die. I wasn’t sure how to tell her why he died, though.
“Well, did you know Pop-Pop had a brother? His name was Mike.”
I told her he got sick and no one would take care of him.
She looked shocked.
“Because he wasn’t rich enough to pay them,” I said. “To some people, money is more important than anything else. Uncle Mike didn’t have much.”
I wanted to focus more on who he was, though, so I told her he was the silliest person any of us had ever known — a real goofball.
She wasn’t sure she believed that.
“Oh no, Grandma’s right,” my son said. “Uncle Mike was a goofball.”
I brought out my phone, where I have a bunch of photos stored. There was one of him in a flower petal bathing cap, another of him making a goofy face, one of him and me making faces …
“He was a goofball,” she said, giggling.
I told her I’d had another angel pin, but it fell off and I never found it, so a man I know who makes jewelry made this one for me.
Reaghan dubbed the pin, The Angel Mike. He watches over all of us, she said, now that he’s a real angel.
That’s when my granddaughter, Meghan, told me she’ll have a memorial table at her wedding next month, and on it will be her favorite photo of her and Mike. It was taken a few days before his wedding, on the day I gave him the handmade quilt that I had just given her as a wedding gift.
When Mike died, Janet gave the quilt back to me because she wanted it to be handed down to another generation, and they had no children.
When I asked Meghan if she would like to have Mike’s quilt instead of me making her one, she cried.
“You’d give that to me?” she choked.
“You’re the first one to get married,” I said. “This is meant to be handed on.”
If only Mike had lived long enough to meet Reaghan. If only he had been here to see Meghan get married. If only … if only …
Nine years ago today, James and Janet went to Goodwill and bought a wheelchair, which they dubbed the Mike-around.
Mike was too weak to walk very far, so they thought the wheelchair was just the thing to get him out onto the deck and into the fresh spring air.
Nine years ago today it was a Thursday. We had 12 days left with him.
Nine years ago today, I brought my son home to die.
In my heart, I feel as though it could have been yesterday.
I remember everything about the day because it’s etched on my heart as the day his impending death became real.
We had coffee in the living room of his apartment after his roommate and best friend, James, left for work. From across the room, Mike looked up at me and said, “I’m ready for this to be over.”
I was not ready. I would never be ready. I’m still not ready to be without him.
We had an appointment for his third chemo infusion, hoping to give him a few more weeks or months.
But he hadn’t gained any weight at the last appointment, and his doctor had said he needed to put on two pounds. I had gone to the Duke Chapel to pray for those two pounds. It didn’t seem like too much to ask. Two pounds.
But it wasn’t to be. We drove from Cary to Durham to the cancer center at Duke University Medical Center. We passed by Mangum Street and he laughed and asked what I though man gum was.
“I can’t help it,” he said. “I think that every time I pass that street.”
We got to the clinic and he stepped on the scale. He had lost another pound.
“I tried!” he said. “I really tried!”
I’ll never forget the look on his face — frustration, disappointment, disbelief.
Dr. Herb Hurwitz came in and told us there was nothing more he could do. His eyes filled with tears as he said, “You’re a good person, Mike. You don’t deserve what’s happening to you.”
I remember thinking it would have been nice if Dr. Patrick Hammen in Savannah had felt that way. Perhaps if he had, Mike and I wouldn’t he hearing these words from Dr. Hurwitz now.
But Hammen had given up on Mike before he even started treatment for his recurrence — which wouldn’t have happened if Hammen had been willing to take payments instead of demanding cash up front for a colonoscopy three and four years earlier.
Hammen had been very matter-of-fact when he told Mike the cancer was back and a cure was unlikely, and he never came back to check on Mike during his nine more days in the hospital.
And here, Dr. Hurwitz was weeping as he told us there was nothing more left to do and that Mike should come home with me and enjoy what time he had left.
As we were leaving the clinic, I was pushing Mike in a wheelchair and he looked up at me.
“How much time do you think I have left?” he asked. “Two weeks?”
“I hope it’s more than that,” I said.
But it was not.
We called James and Janet and they both met us at the apartment. They had packed up a few things they knew Mike would want, including his gaming computer, his game console and games, a few books and all his plaid flannel pajama bottoms and T-shirts, underwear and ostomy supplies. It all fit in the back of my Honda CRV.
At that point, these few things were about all he owned, except for a massive antique desk, which would go to Janet.
James and Janet would come out to Asheville the following day; Mike and I would do the four-hour trip alone, stopping at an outlet store about halfway home so I could get a memory foam pillow for his bony butt. I think it was as much an excuse for him to have a cigarette as any soreness in his backside, but I was willing to indulge him.
He weighed about 102 pounds at this point, but he would lose more since his body had stopped absorbing any food.
For the next two weeks, I would share him with friends and family from as far away as New York and New England, from Savannah and Cary, and from Asheville. All of us tried to soak up as much of his presence, wisdom, humor and love as we could. We knew it would have to last us a lifetime.
Nine years ago today, he came home to die. I would have given my own life to spare his, but it was not to be, and the pain of losing him has not abated. I was so unwilling to imagine life beyond his death that I convinced myself my heart would stop when his did. It didn’t, of course, and all I know to do now is to fight for access to health care for everyone because no one should have to go through what my family has endured.
On the day he died, some 45,000 Americans were dying every year from lack of access to care. Things are somewhat better now because more than 20 million people have access to care than had it then, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
But the occupant of the White House, the Speaker of the House and other Republican politicians want to go back to that. Perhaps if they had to watch their own children die the way I had to, perhaps if they had to live with the unspeakable pain I do, they would change their minds.
But I wouldn’t wish that on anyone — even on them.
Nine years ago today, I brought my child home to die.
We would have two more weeks with him.
If the powers that be in the Republican Party want people to die, then they got it right with this budget.
Cut Meals on Wheels and stop feeding hungry children.
Get rid of the arts, cut funds for medical research, zero-out PBS and slash funds for education.
And while we talk about how Americans have equal opportunities, let’s cut assistance for college students and then we can call them lazy when they can’t go to college and minimum wage is still less than half of what people need to pay their bills.
Oh, and let’s not help poor people in cold climates to heat their homes. So what if they starve? It’s their own fault for living in a cold place. They should move to Florida or Texas or something.
While we’re at it, let’s slash after-school programs so families that are struggling to get by on minimum wage have no safe place for their children while they work. And then when their children get in trouble, we can say their parents are to blame for neglecting them.
Well, maybe they shouldn’t have children if they can’t afford it, right? Then, why are we closing women’s health clinics? That’s the only place many low-income women have to get reliable contraception. But then, these clowns don’t think women should have access to contraception. Or abortion. We are, after all, pro-life, aren’t we?
Oh, and let’s cut programs that offer nutrition to pregnant and nursing mothers. If the kids don’t get good nutrition for brain development, then they won’t need college anyway.
And we can get rid of programs that help people with their rent in emergencies — you know, if the car breaks down or someone gets sick.
And speaking of getting sick, the GOP plan for health non-care is breathtakingly cruel. It seems intended to kill poor people.
But, hey, let’s fund war. Lots and lots of money in this budget for more war, and for a wall we don’t need, since Mexicans aren’t coming here in great numbers anymore.
I have a question for people who call themselves Christian or pro-life: How can you reconcile your support for these lethal policies that target the poor with surgical precision?
Have you read the red print in the Bible? That’s the stuff Jesus says — and in case you’ve forgotten, Jesus Christ is the person Christians are supposed to be following.
I wish the Pope himself would write to Paul Ryan and tell him his policies are deeply, grossly immoral.
I don’t think anyone can make the occupant of the White House a more moral person. I think he believes his only concern should be with the wealthy and powerful. I think he’s just too cruel, willfully ignorant and immoral to change his ways.
But the Republicans are skipping merrily along, allowing him to wreak havoc across the country and around the world.
This is evil on a massive scale. We must resist. We must persist. And we must find a way to enlist Republicans in the cause. This is not about party; this is about morality. This is about fighting the greatest evil the world has seen since Hitler and Stalin. We can’t afford to lose.
I was ready to make a very public exit from the Democratic party if Tom Perez won the chairmanship, but other events Saturday raised my hopes for the party.
It started with the precinct cluster meetings in the morning. I’m vice-chair of my precinct (45.1 in Buncombe County, NC), and in previous years, the chair, John Parker, and I had to scramble to get five people out to a meeting so we could have a quorum. We had to make calls and get people to the meetings so our precinct wouldn’t lose our “organized” status.
“Can you just stop by for a half hour while we vote on resolutions and elect officers?” we begged. We were able to keep organized, but barely.
Yesterday, instead of begging for people to show up, we had 16 people, several of whom were young and progressive. The others were from a retirement community, and I was afraid they might be conservative Democrats like the ones who killed several progressive resolutions last year, but they were old-style progressives who decided to become active again so we could take our party back from pro-corporate influences.
Last year a conservative banker convinced people to vote against a resolution calling for re-regulation of the banks and against a resolution calling for a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. He wouldn’t stop talking until he had the votes to defeat these two resolutions.
This year, the banker was nowhere to be seen and both resolutions passed unanimously, along with resolutions calling for an immediate raise in the minimum wage to $15, plus one calling for a single-payer health care system. In all, we passed nearly a dozen progressive resolutions, all unanimously.
I wrote two resolutions — the ones calling for the $15 minimum wage and Medicare for all — and most of the precincts passed them without amendments. One precinct leader asked if the minimum wage resolution could be amended to phase in the $15 over three to five years. I told them no. If you’re making $7.25 an hour, five years without a living wage is not an option. The raise is needed now, and in five years, inflation adjustments should have it up to about $20. People need to be able to feed, clothe and shelter their families NOW, not in five years.
“Well, these a pretty conservative people,” the precinct chair said.
“Those are the very people we need to outnumber to take the party back,” I said. “Go ahead and write your own resolution, but mine stays as is.”
These new party activists were Bernie Sanders supporters, determined to move the Democratic Party back to its FDR progressivism, back to the days when LBJ signed the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts. They were inspired by the organization, Our Revolution, which is comprised of progressive fighters.
I left the precinct meeting with renewed faith that we can do this.
From there, I went to speak at an Our Revolution rally downtown. We had 500 people turn out to call for improvements to our health care system, from support of keeping and improving the ACA, to a public option in the marketplace, to single-payer.
I told my son’s story and reminded people that 45,000 Americans died the same way every year before the ACA took effect. We’re still losing 15,000 to 20,000 in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid.
What I saw yesterday was a determination to take the Democratic Party left again.
When it was announced that Tom Perez won the party chair election, we were encouraged by the fact that the election was close and that our candidate, Keith Ellison, is now the vice-chair and that Perez has vowed to work closely with him.
I am encouraged. We have to remember that the Republican right wing has worked since the 1960s to achieve what it has, and that in one election cycle, we progressives have made remarkable progress.
So, let’s follow the Indivisible playbook. Let’s take this nation back in the 2018 elections, despite gerrymandering, despite voter suppression laws. We are the majority. If we work for this, and most importantly, if we vote, we will not fail.
Dear Sen. Burr, Sen. Tillis and Rep. Meadows:
You know me.
You know me because for the last nine years I have hounded you and others about the importance of access to health care.
I have hounded you because nine years ago yesterday, I got a call that every parent dreads.
It was about 9:45 a.m., and I was on my way to work.
“Mom,” he said, “the cancer’s back. There’s nothing they can do. I might have a few weeks, maybe a few months.”
It was as though I had been punched in the chest, full force, by a very strong man.
“How do I begin to say goodbye to everyone?” he asked.
The next six weeks are etched on my heart, burned into it like a cattleman’s brand.
I am forced to relive the death of my child because he couldn’t get access to health care.
He was uninsured, not because he was lazy — he was as hard a worker as anyone I’ve ever known. He was a full-time student, working in a restaurant and volunteering with his 12-step group to help other people get and stay sober.
But a birth defect — one that left him vulnerable to colon cancer — was a pre-existing condition, so no insurance company would sell him a policy. Without insurance, he was unable to get the cancer screenings he needed, and of course, he developed cancer.
He went to the Emergency Room when he got sick. He went three times and left with the wrong diagnoses, the wrong medicines and a bill because the ER only has to stabilize patients. I’ll bet you know that when you tell people they have access to care there when they really don’t. My son was given laxatives and pain pills when the problem was a malignant tumor blocking his colon.
By the time anyone did anything for him, he was vomiting fecal matter. Can you imagine that?
No, I guess not. You and your families have access to care whenever you need it.
By the time he got any care, it was too late to save his life. He was forced to leave his wife to get Medicaid. It took 37 months for his disability to be approved — he was dead nine days before his first check came.
Michael was lucky because the many people who loved him did all we could to make sure he had a place to live and food and clothing — and even a few little luxuries like a cell phone.
But all the love and support he had weren’t enough to save his life — all because insurance companies wanted to protect their profits.
My son died on April 1, 2008. I sat beside him, his hand in mine, as he breathed his last.
I had believed I would die when he did. I couldn’t imagine that my heart would continue to beat after his stopped.
But there I was, heart beating, lungs inhaling and exhaling. I was too devastated to cry.
Have you ever had that happen? Something so horrible that you can’t even cry because you’re so paralyzed? It’s not something I would wish on anyone — even you.
So I decided I would work to make sure everyone — not just every citizen, but every human being — gets access to health care.
We managed to make some progress with the Affordable Care Act. Some 32 million Americans have gained access, saving tens of thousands of lives every year, and now you want to repeal that law.
And you still call yourselves “pro-life,” and “Christian.” You are neither, and I pray you will face judgment for your crimes.
Since it’s unlikely you’ll ever lose a child the way I did, let me tell you what it’s like.
I would give my own life to have him back in the world. I so miss those late-night phone calls that began with, “Hi Mom, I knew you’d still be up.”
I miss the calls that started, “When are people going to learn to fucking drive?” when he was stuck in traffic.
I miss having him in the kitchen, eating an entire loaf of fresh-baked bread with the proclamation, “The only thing wrong with this bread is that it’s not at my house!”
I miss watching cooking shows with him, punctuated with, “Oh, you know what?” which was followed by an idea for a recipe. We both wrote a lot of recipes. I had hoped we would write a cookbook together someday.
I miss slapping his hand away from the turkey and stuffing on Thanksgiving, and I miss him emptying the entire gravy boat onto his plate so I had to refill it for the rest of us.
I miss how much he loved his wife and his nieces and nephew, his brother, his many, many friends, and me.
I cry most days because the pain of losing him hasn’t gotten any better. On our shared birthday, I go with a friend to where we scattered his ashes and I sing Happy Birthday to me, while my friend tries to drown me out singing it to him. I miss that Michael and I used to sing it that way.
See, I told him he could have the birthday when I was done with it. It was a joke on each of the 33 birthdays he had before we were robbed of his life by a broken health care policy.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that I was advised to have an abortion when I was pregnant with him, but I CHOSE not to. I am much more pro-life than you are because I believe life is sacred even after it exits the birth canal.
Now you’re talking about repealing the ACA, which would condemn tens of thousands of Americans to slow and painful deaths. It would condemn tens of thousands of families to suffer the same loss mine has.
But you don’t care about that because your friends profit so much more when people suffer the way my child did.
I have a fantasy: You know the passage in the Gospel of Matthew, where Jesus sorts the people in to goats on his left and lambs on his right?
I have a fantasy of you walking in and confidently sitting among the lambs, only to have Jesus say, “Excuse me, you’re in the wrong seats. You belong over there on the left. I was sick and you told me I was lazy because I didn’t have a job with insurance. I was hungry and you voted to take away my food stamps and then you voted to keep my wages too low to be able to afford decent food and shelter.”
Then you say, “But we never saw you sick or hungry …”
This is where Jesus cuts you off and points to my son and the tens of thousands of others like him.
“Whatever you did to them, you did also to me.”
Your constituent, Leslie Boyd
Of course, those of us who stood against this man from the beginning knew what would happen, and here we go.
Two oil pipelines got the OK to be built through pristine wilderness and Native American lands, even as one in Iowa has burst and is leaking toxic oil into the environment.
We’re going to build a wall to keep out Mexicans — who, by the way, aren’t coming in such great numbers.
We’re going to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace Medicaid with block grants, then kill Medicare and offer seniors vouchers to buy insurance they can’t afford and that won’t cover what they need covered. Tens of millions will lose access to health care and hundreds of thousands of innocent people will die because their lives don’t matter.
People from predominately Muslim countries can’t come here anymore, even if they’re refugees and their lives are in danger. Their lives don’t matter.
The global ban on funding for any agency that even mentions abortion is gone. This means women’s health clinics will close and women will die because their lives don’t matter.
We will cut funding that helps save lives around the world and retreat from treaties we have signed. We will strand the United Nations, which depends on funding from us, because lives around the world don’t matter.
Just today, the entire top level of staff at the State Department abruptly resigned, leaving the nation’s fate in the hands of inexperienced, unqualified people.
We have stopped informing the public of scientific research that conflicts with the lies the 1 percent want us to believe. We have silenced the Environmental Protection Agency and cut off its ability to fund education and research.
The man in the White House has told us we need to get our news from him and not the news media and then he endorsed Fox News, making this the first time in our nation’s history that we have an “official” news source.
Social media accounts for the national parks have been shut down, as have those for the EPA. Public phone lines into the White House have been shut off.
Journalists are being arrested for covering the news.
In case you don’t know history, this is fascism. This is real.
In less than a week, we have gone from global power to insular, xenophobic nation. We are seen by the rest of the world as selfish, sexist and racist, homophobic and Islamophobic.
Make America great again? In less than a week we have become small.
If you have lost a child, you will understand why I’m jealous of Debbie Reynolds.
It’s impossible to express the grief of losing a child. One friend described it as losing a huge piece of her innards, as though something had been torn from her. It was a physical pain.
Another friend recalls falling to the floor and screaming because there were no words and she lost the strength to stand.
We carry a hole in our hearts that can’t be patched, and it never, ever stops hurting, even for a moment.
I remember I had it in my head that my heart would stop when my son’s did. I couldn’t imagine life without him.
I sat by him, holding his hand and telling him how much I loved him as he breathed his last.
“He’s gone,” the nurse said after he stopped breathing.
But that couldn’t be so, I thought. I’m still here, and I can’t be here after he’s gone.
But there I was, alive and pissed.
I hadn’t told anyone I would die with him; I didn’t think I had to. Everyone would know why my heart stopped.
But then it didn’t stop.
I tried to will it to stop, but it kept beating.
In eight and a half years since he died, I have wondered every day when I will be able to join him.
I feel my heart beat and the injustice of it still makes me angry.
Yes, I have another child and four grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter. Yes, I have nieces and nephews and siblings whom I love very much. And yes, I have friends — wonderful friends, a ton of them.
But I don’t have Michael.
I know this doesn’t make sense to you unless you have lost a child, especially if you lost that child to injustice.
He shouldn’t have died.
If he had been able to gain access to health care, he would still be with us.
If Carrie Fisher had been downtown instead of on an airplane, she might have gotten help in time. She might still be alive, and so would her mother.
If, if, if …
But the reality is my Michael is gone and I’m still here.
When I heard Debbie Reynolds had suffered a severe stroke, I felt a tinge of jealousy.
“She’s going to die,” I told my husband. “She gets to go be with her daughter.”
Sure enough, an hour later, he was online and saw she had died.
“Lucky,” I muttered under my breath.
My son has come to me a few times in extremely vivid dreams since he died. Don’t try and tell me he wasn’t there because I know he was.
When I see him, I tell him I want to go with him. I tell him I don’t want to be here any more.
But every time, he says the same thing: “That’s not an option now, Mom. You have work to do.”
Since he died, I have fought every day to expand access to health care to all people. I don’t say all Americans because there are plenty of people who aren’t Americans who need health care too.
I have gone to Raleigh and to Washington. I have spoken to people in power and told them there should be no test for access to care. Everyone should have it, even if we have to give it to them without requiring them to have a full-time job or to make more than poverty wages.
I have called them out when they say they are “pro-life” but in the next breath try to rationalize why we can’t allow everyone to have access to quality care like most of the rest of the world does.
And in the eight and a half years since my child died, we have made a little progress, but now we are poised to step backward, and all the work I have done to try and prevent more people from dying the way my child did appears to have been for nothing.
I have told his story again and again, but people seem to think he was the exception, that most people who die from lack of access to care somehow deserved it.
“Screw work,” I want to say, but I know it won’t do any good.
I can’t go yet.
Debbie Reynolds was the lucky one.
I have to stay here, without my son, because I have work to do.
I’m feeling beyond frustrated today as I listen to the acrimony between Hillary and Bernie supporters, each blaming the other for the demise of the Democratic Party.
I support Bernie because I want someone who will fight for universal access to health care now.
Yes, I know it will be blocked by Republicans, but if we start negotiations in the middle, we wind up with an agreement right of center and with millions of people still without care.
When President Obama and Nancy Pelosi took single-payer off the table, we lost all hope of getting that public option that would have given me a choice to buy into Medicaid. It would have offered competition with the insurance companies, which now have a legal monopoly. What we got was a half-assed solution that, although it offered millions of people the chance to buy health insurance, it shut out millions more and left the for-profit insurance companies in charge of the system.
We’re seeing employers stop hiring full-time employees rather than give money to the insurance companies. We’re seeing people having to buy high-deductible plans that they can’t afford to use, so they’re getting nothing for their money.
About once every 18 to 20 minutes, an American dies from lack of access to care.
But sure, let’s do it incrementally. Let’s tell the bereaved families of these people who are dying that they have to be patient. After all, we don’t want to offend those who support the system as it is.
There are very real and very high stakes in this election. Each election cycle, the corporations gain more ground and we the people lose. We can’t get a living wage, we can’t get universal health care, we can’t get affordable housing, we can’t get reasonably low rate college loans for middle-income kids, we can’t get big money out of politics.
But rather than focus on all that, we follow every move of Donald Trump, who’s only doing as well as he is because the media have decided he’s the story.
You see, in case you haven’t noticed, the media write the scenarios and we blithely follow along.
Four years ago, the media started saying the Republicans would take the Senate in 2014. It was an unlikely scenario, but the media kept repeating it until it became reality.
Now the media are saying Trump will beat Hillary if she is the nominee, and you can bet it will become a self-fulfilling prophesy unless we the people wake up and start thinking for ourselves.
Four years ago, the Democrats ran a lame candidate here in North Carolina, and he was beaten by Pat McCrory (#OneTermPat). As the election neared and Walter Dalton trailed, several Democratic friends told me they thought it was OK.
“Let them have it all and people will be so pissed they’ll send them packing,” people said.
Well, here’s what really happened. We cant expand Medicaid — in fact, we’re about to privatize it, and we’re cutting funding for the care of medically fragile children. That’s right, we’re going to let sick children suffer and die rather than ask the wealthiest to pay their share of taxes.
Our schools are suffering and being choked to death as we give more money to for-profit charter schools. Our teachers are among the lowest paid in the country, and our per-pupil spending is the lowest in the nation. Our once-proud university system is being cut down, bit by bit. In fact, some of our state universities are about to be starved to death, including some traditionally African-American schools.
We can’t raise the minimum wage, so people are in desperate need for social programs, like food stamps, which are being cut. Child care costs as much as college tuition, and we’re cutting programs that help parents afford it while refusing to pay a living wage.
If you lose your job because of discrimination, you can’t sue in state courts, and you have the shortest duration and the least compensation in the country on unemployment. The GOP did that almost as soon as McCrory took office.
Cities and counties can’t set their own wage levels or discrimination policies because of HB2, which most people think is just about bathrooms.
We are well along the road to becoming a third-world country in terms of the life of average citizens. Income inequality is at record levels, global warming is at the tipping point, we keep fighting pointless wars, and no one seems to notice.
We’re so complacent that half of the right-wing nuts who want to establish a state religion and allow people to die in the streets rather than give them access to health care are running unopposed.
So the predictions of people finally waking up if Trump wins the election are wrong. If North Carolina is a predictor, and I believe it is, people will allow him to set up a fascist state because we’re too distracted by the media’s shiny issues to do anything about it.
This really is a first for me, announcing in public my support for a Congressional candidate.
I spent 30 years as a newspaper reporter, then six years running a nonprofit, so it was inappropriate for me to support candidates officially and openly.
But this year, I’m speaking up. We can’t allow the reign of the right-wing to continue, and Mark Meadows is about as far to the right as a person can get. Our option in 2014 was another candidate who stands far to the right on issues such as women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and true religious freedom (he is blatantly anti-Muslim).
This time, we have a chance to vote for someone who truly has decent human values. He believes, as I do, that anyone who works a 40-hour week should be able to pay their bills without government help. That means we need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. If we do that, we won’t need to pay for food stamps or rent subsidies for people who work full-time.
Bryson believes that access to quality health care should be a basic human right and that we can’t allow the Affordable Care Act to be diminished; instead we need to add to its protections by making access to care universal. He points out that the pharmaceutical industry has four lobbyists for each member of Congress. I don’t imagine the health insurance industry is far behind.
Bryson wants to see more support for public education, not less. He wants an intelligent electorate with decent critical-thinking skills. That’s not what Mark Meadows wants; he has supported privatizing education.
We have become very adept at blaming the victim in this country by labeling people who need help as “takers,” but these people are left behind by bad public policy, and the corporate shills who sit in Congress now are only too happy to take more away from working people and give it to the super-wealthy by privatizing public programs like Social Security and Medicaid.
The people here in Western North Carolina have suffered the loss of thousands of good manufacturing jobs, many of them with union protections, which have been replaced with low-wage jobs. The state has been able to force workers into these jobs by cutting unemployment compensation to the bone and shortening its duration.
Rick Bryson proposes a project similar to the Research Triangle, but sprinkling it across Western North Carolina. He calls the plan Generation NOW. It would bring higher wage telecommunications, clean energy, bio-medicine, agribusiness, computer modeling, recreation, design, and other similar jobs to the region.
Anyone who knows me knows my most passionate issue is health care, but we can’t fix health care and nothing else.
I find Rick Bryson’s stands on all the issues to be reasonable and kind. He is intelligent and articulate, and he loves these mountain communities because he has deep, deep roots here. His family has been here for generations (Bryson City is named for them).
I can’t think of anyone who would represent the people of District 11 better than he will.
The best way any of us can help is to turn out on June 7 (early voting starts May 26) and vote in the primary. We can do this if we work together, and if we don’t, we stand to lose a lot more than an election in November.