Gonna Stand for This.

It was a tough decision to decide whether or not to write about who I'm voting for on Tuesday November 6th. I try to keep politics, religions, and other 'debate-heavy' stuff out of this space. I save it for my friends and family in real life.. ;-) Ultimately, what *really* put me over the edge to write this post is because this blog is about breaking barriers. And if the act of voting (regardless of who or what it is for) isn't about breaking barriers... then I'm not sure what is!

Barack Obama is a barrier breaker. And I'm really proud to say that my first time voting went to him for that reason alone. Not only do I have no idea what's behind the wall Mitt Romney seems intent on breaking, but I cannot say beyond a shadow of a doubt that Romney himself believes in the sound-bytes he spews. And that is a statement coming from someone who was raised in, and went to college in Massachusetts. 

What are some of the options and potential the Obama Administration has been creating? Let's run down some highlights.
1.) Healthcare.
Set-aside the issues of anti-choice and whether or not Catholic universities should cover birth control. If you are reading this, chances are good that you know someone with a genetic or pre-existing condition. The Affordable Care Act creates the option for those with a pre-existing condition to access health insurance. Prior to this insurance companies could deny an individual due to some faulty DNA strand no one has ever heard about. The ACA is also inclusive of those with disabilities in the practice of preventative healthcare. If our friends and other family members go to annual check-ups and their doctors suggest mammograms, and other routine exams -- those of us with a disability should also be expected to have the same routine treatment. Having O.I. doesn't mean that the other routine exams get shuffled under the carpet! The ACA sets standards so that diagnostic medical equipment can be appropriately adapted to those with a disability. Being short doesn't mean I shouldn't have a mammogram. Being 17 and actively dating doesn't mean your primary care physician won't ask about STD's, or "forget to suggest a pap smear" because you sit in a wheelchair. These are opportunities that are available, and the potential for dollars and lives saved is one I believe worth voting for.

2.) Employment.
It wasn't until I got older that I realized the hypocrisy of those things many refer to as "disability benefits." Because if you find yourself wondering: if I accept this job, will I lose my benefit? ...How beneficial is it really? For many people that benefit is also tied to eligibility for Medicaid. And if you do accept that job, will your employer's insurance company have the liberty to reject your coverage due to a pre-existing condition? For anyone with O.I. x-rays, cast, physical therapy, renting a reclinable wheelchair -- could easily and rapidly exceed that lifetime cap many insurance companies provide. Never mind multiple instances for x-rays, casts, and pain medications. These are not questions or considerations anyone should have to decide. And yet thousands of adults with disabilities do. I know this because I was one, and because in 2011 the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported among those with disabilities 17.8% are working compared to 63.6% of those without a a disability. There is at least one person in that 82.2% of people with disabilities not working because s/he is afraid to lose 'benefits.' One person who is not contributing what they are able to and what they want to - because they have put their disability before their life goals. I lead a life where I'm lucky that is not the case, and I would say that it's been fairly successful -- I want that one other person to have the option and potential to experience the same success. That's a shared experience worth voting for.
Here's another fun fact: It wasn't until February 2009 that the Bureau of Labor Statistics included those with disabilities in the population count for employment data. I'm voting for the clear actions this Administration has made to reflect the potential for a demographic that I'm proud to be a part of. It's clear that our economy is in shambles. It's glaringly obvious that we need all the help we can get. I want to be a part of getting America back on its feet. I want to be able to contribute to a robust economy. I'm voting for a guy and an Administration that allows me to do this, this is a vote because they've noted I matter and that I count.

3.) Education.
Hopefully by now, you all know I'm all about rockin' the nerd-power, and I'm pro-school and early-intervention & literacy. And hopefully, by now, you also know what a great nerd and pro-education guy Obama is too! But let's set-aside the fact that nerds will always have the backs of their fellow nerds.  Thanks to such legislation like The ADA, Title I, and the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) -- students with disabilities are able to access, attend, and participate in an education system. But it's through the actions from himself and his Administration that included: vouching for & celebrating the IDEA, for signing into law the 21st Century Communications & Video Accessibility Act, ensuring that ebooks & other classroom technology are accessible to all, by preserving funding for Title I, III, and Head Start Programs... this is an Administration who believes more than just students with disabilities being there in class. This is an Administration that sees the value and benefit from public school systems, it's an Administration that realizes teachers and school systems need to be trained to work with students with varying learning styles, he's a guy that realizes how crucial adaptive technology is to attaining education for many students with disabilities. I'm voting for Obama because it's clear that for him, education isn't just something a first-world country should be able to provide to all of its young people. This is a vote for the great potential that someday the complete inclusion of those with disabilities in society will not be an option but instead a reality - and it's a reality that I can see his Administration is trying to create in the classroom first.

....I could go on really. He's a guy who believes in the option of same-sex marriage should be available to all who want that choice. He's a guy who believes in the potential of volunteers to serve as part of the solution for many local and community problems. He's a guy who believes in the potential of American workers. He's a guy who knows what it means to raise daughters, and to give them options regarding their own bodies and healthcare.

Being a barrier breaker is more than just proving others wrong. It's more than just showing people that YES WE CAN do this. In actuality, being a barrier breaker has little to do with knocking down walls and breaking assumptions. As I watch and learn from my role models from The Hill to my classmates - being a barrier breaker has everything to do with believing in what's behind the wall you're breaking down.
Breaking barriers has less to do with destruction and more to do with creating optionsand creating potential for others who are following your lead and look up to you. From what I have gathered so far, breaking barriers is something a person does because s/he believes their own success depends on the success of others -- otherwise, what is the point? And that's why on Tuesday, I'll be voting again for Barack Obama.

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