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How I Learned That Politics Matter, Really Matter in Our Lives

I am a volunteer at the Oakland Organizing for America office. But how did I get here? Why am I taking time out of each busy week to support this campaign?

If you are like me, when you think of politics sometimes you think of the thrill of election night, with its flashy red-white-and-blue graphics and pulse-tingling music.

But politics is not entertainment. It’s not filler for cable TV shows. It’s not about the latest polls or late-night comedians’ clever punch lines.

The policies our President pursues – and the bills that he signs into law -- have serious consequences, and I learned this myself last year in a very real way.

In January 2008, the stuff of nightmares happened to my family: a doctor informed us that he had found a tumor growing inside my wife, Renee. She had colo-rectal cancer, and a few months later we discovered that it had already spread to her liver as well. At the time we had two boys, 2 and 3 years old, and a 9-month-old girl who wasn't even crawling yet.

Renee and I were shocked, frightened and overwhelmed, and underneath everything was another fear that kept me awake through many nights: my wife's pre-existing genetic condition had made her ineligible for private insurance. How would we pay for all of the surgeries, chemotherapy and scans needed to fight her cancer? What was going to happen to us?

Then I watched as, after nearly a year of relentless effort getting it through Congress, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law. I cheered his efforts on, astounded by his tenacity in the face of huge opposition from the other side. But it really hit me in June of 2011, when my wife Renee finally became insured under the ACA’s Pre-existing Insurance Plan.

Politics had reached into my home and helped my family. In the two years since the ACA was signed, I have been able to be a better husband to my wife and a better father to my young children – and it’s all thanks to this new law.

My wife continues to struggle with cancer, and my family still faces a financial strain due to the way it has impacted my work, but we now know that we will not lose everything and that our country cares about people like us.

I think every day about the people who are hurting even more than my family. I think of the fathers who have lost their jobs and in turn, their homes because they can no longer afford to pay the rent. I think of the families with a sick child with no one to care for them during the day. I think about the high school graduates who want to continue their education but can’t afford college. I imagine their feelings of having no way out; I know how it feels, because I’ve been there.

I also know that President Obama’s policies can change their lives, rebuild the middle class and enable their dreams. A little help goes a long way toward achieving that. The phone calls, the trainings, and ceaseless effort all the way to November 6 -- every bit of it matters.

Find out how the Affordable Care Act is working to help your family and I hope you’ll join me and stand up for all those people fighting to find a way out. Get involved in your area today.

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