I can never remember a time when I was not political.
Politics has always mattered. This year, however, it matters even more. While I understand and respect that everyone has a choice, I feel compelled to share my truth about why I wholeheartedly support Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to be the next President and Vice President of the United States.
- WHILE CAMPAIGNING TO BE PRESIDENT IN 2016, THEN CANDIDATE DONALD TRUMP GLEEFULLY MOCKED AND MIMICKED A REPORTER WITH A DISABILITY IN FRONT OF A CHEERING RALLY CROWD. As someone born with cerebral palsy who has worked all my life to be seen for my ability rather than my disability, I was deeply offended. The fact that I had wanted to be a reporter since the age of 12 and achieved that dream made it hurt even more. Why? Because it meant that I had no hope of ever being accepted in Trump’s America for my ability rather than my disability. After all, if the President of the free world could make fun of someone’s physical imperfections, what hope of acceptance would I have from those who were in lesser positions of power?
- I WAS BORN IN A SHITHOLE COUNTRY. President Donald Trump referred to countries like my native Jamaica as shithole countries. Because to Donald Trump, countries like my homeland that have majority black populations are inferior. And therefore shitholes. Overt racism is not new, what is disturbing is those words flowing freely from the leader of the free world in the 21st century. Time to turn the page on bigotry and xenophobia, especially when it comes from our nation’s highest office.
- I’M AT HIGH RISK FOR for COVID-19. If you believe the science, and I do, my risk of serious complications from COVID-19 are significant. In 2006, I had a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot that traveled to my lung and almost killed me. As a pulmonary embolism survivor I am more susceptible to developing another embolism and since the coronavirus interferes with the clotting of your blood, catching COVID-19 would make my precarious health situation potentially even more dangerous. COVID would definitely not be my friend, if I catch it. As a result of this knowledge I have lived my life with hyper vigilance since March quarantining almost completely at home, keenly aware that Trump’s “bad flu” could easily cost me my life. Trump is not to blame for the virus, but his decision to give a orange middle finger to the scientists and the most vulnerable while insisting on re-opening the economy without a plan for testing or tracing was stunningly callous and willfully ignorant.
- I HAVE A PREEXISTING CONDITION. I am lucky. I have health insurance but there was a time when I did not. At that time I lived with the fear that so many people face of not being able to pay for healthcare that could make the difference between life and death. It is not a fun place to be. When you are sick it is stressful enough worrying about when or if you’ll get better. The least of your worries should be how am I going to pay for this. Having to make a choice between being well because you can’t afford treatment and being bankrupt because of illness, is not acceptable in this modern age and it is certainly unacceptable in the richest country in the world.
- MY LIFE MATTERS. I am a black man in my 40s whose drive in my specially equipped vehicle could easily go sideways in a simple traffic stop with the police. To the casual observer, my wheelchair is not easily visible when I’m in my van. A routine traffic stop where I am asked to provide my driver’s license and registration could result in me reaching for my wallet in my wheelchair parked behind my driver’s seat and it not ending well. Sounds dramatic but things happen… and easily. President Trump does not even acknowledge that there is systemic racism in our justice system much less even thinking about doing anything to address it.
The Biden-Harris ticket offers a new opportunity to turn the page and address these issues and others with thoughtfulness and without bombast, that I and so many others face every day. I am hopeful that having Biden and Harris in the White House will provide a much needed lift and morale boost–that will take a holistic approach to tackling our nation’s problems–as we face some of the biggest existential threats to our existence, a raging global pandemic, economic insecurity, and even racial strife.
All can be tackled and even solved with steady leadership.