I don’t usually talk about politics, and I hate how much the US presidential election is covered here in France… but after watching some of the speeches at the Democratic Convention this week, I’m feeling a little more hopeful about my country. It took me six long years to get out of the US after Bush started destroying it. I never thought I’d ever want to move back there. Yet now a tiny part of me does, if the Democrats can do what they say.
The main reason I choose France over the US is universal health care. It still blows my mind that the US government doesn’t take care of all of its citizens, but only the rich ones. Yes, we pay a lot for the amazing health care we have in France, but it is worth it. I know that if anything serious ever happened to me or David, we wouldn’t be in debt forever because of medical bills. I can go to the doctor without wasting $10 just to set foot in his/her office. I can get my teeth or eyes checked and be reimbursed for the entire bill. Even my contacts are free every year. I feel sorry for my friends and family in the US who have no health care, who haven’t been to the doctors in years, who can’t afford their prescriptions… That shouldn’t happen in the “world’s superpower.”
But there are other reasons why I don’t like the US right now. The cost of university is atrociously high. The minimum wage is ridiculously low. Foreign cultures, religions and languages are not tolerated in most areas. There is still too much racism, sexism, and especially homophobia. (Though one can argue this is true of every nation.) The government wastes all of its money on fighting a war we shouldn’t be involved in, instead of helping its own citizens with access to education, employment and health care. Everyone is seen as a terrorist, even Americans themselves, and treated thus. The government denies that global warming even exists, while making the situation even worse. It declares the death penalty to be an acceptable form of punishment. It denies homosexuals the same benefits enjoyed by other human beings. It ignores women’s rights and the separation of church and state and the threat of HIV/AIDS as a global epidemic.
But for me, the greatest offense is favoring the rich over the poor. Classism is usually overlooked because it encompasses such a broad range of topics, but I see it everywhere. The poor cannot go to college because tuition is too expensive. Without an education, they can’t find a decent-paying job. So they’re stuck in poverty, and so are their children. The poor cannot go to the doctor because medical bills are too high. Without good health, they can’t work. Poverty leads to more poverty and no one ever seems to do anything about it.
The Democrats are going to have a very hard time fixing the mess that Bush made. It will take years to reverse the damage. The economy was obviously much better when Clinton was president in the 90’s. But even he couldn’t get Congress to approve his universal health care plan. He unfortunately approved the Defense of Marriage Act. And let’s not forget Somalia, and the two genocides that occurred while he was in office, in Rwanda and the Balkans. He was a great president, but he couldn’t do everything. I need to remember that when (yes, when) Obama becomes the next president. I know I shouldn’t have a lot of hope that he’ll be able to change everything, because it’s not entirely dependent on him.
But it is nice for once to have hope for the future of my country instead of being ashamed of it. It is nice for once to think that I may be able to return home if I want to.