Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I'm Down With ALG, But is She Down With Me?

212:  Go on and continue questioning someone you might even support.  We'll be stronger for it.  

A couple of things I need to get out there before I write this blog (and before all my Democrat friends crucify me):  1.)  I love my home state of Kentucky, have made it my home for the past 22 years, married a native, had a child here, and moved my parents here.  Anyone who knows me, also knows that I proudly proclaim myself "Appal-Asian";  2.)  I like Alison Lundergan Grimes (ALG) I will vote for her for U.S. Senate when she faces long-time incumbent, Mitch McConnell.  I will donate to her campaign.

My reasons are pretty simple.  I'm not on some anti-Mitch campaign to get him out of office.  I'm not blindly adhering to the loyalties of the political party that I'm registered with.  I'm not some flaming feminist (well, actually I kind of am), insistent on overthrowing the old white guy.  I simply think that Senator McConnell is out of touch with the real issues impacting my fellow Kentuckians, has a voting record that proves this, and I think that it is time for change.

With that being said, I sit here unsettled after spending a week reading through ALG's campaign website and watching her kick-off speech.   Try as I might, I scour the stage, the audience, and I see no faces that look like mine.  While I've always gotten annoyed with the perfectly placed token brown face on campaign stages, a complete absence of any diversity also begs the question, will any Kentucky Senator actually represent me (or the people I work with)?

The issues that ALG is focusing on are critical and important issues for Kentucky - energy (her position on energy deserves a completely separate blog entry), Social Security and Medicare, unemployment, business development, and veterans.  While I commend her for tackling issues that impact a lot of Kentuckians, I have not seen or heard her position on issues that impact people like me (or people I work with on a daily basis):  people of color, middle-class, those trying to make ends meet, social workers, females, disabled, multi-cultural, justice-seeking.

ALG's campaign kick-off took place in a beautiful historic mansion owned by her father, located in downtown Lexington - just a few blocks from the dilapidated rape crisis center at which I work, whose trash can is picked through by the local homeless men every night.  Like a rock star, ALG stepped out of a tour bus wrapped in her image to the blaring tunes of Neil Diamond's Kentucky Woman.  


I'd like to see ALG's position statements actually address issues impacting women - like reproductive health, rape and domestic violence, child care, and livable wages.    Just two years ago, the car of an inter-racial couple in my town was vandalized with hate messages.  During the month of Ramadan, a guy had a "burn a Koran" sign in his front yard.  My friends in Berea, and in most parts of the state can still be legally discriminated against in employment, housing, and public accommodations simply because they are gay.  Just yesterday, three children under the age of 9 walked through the front doors of my work. 

I work at a rape crisis center. 

Human trafficking is out of control in Kentucky hotels, truck stops, strip bars, and at those very events (like Derby and Equestrian Games) designed to help boost our local economy.

So while some might be totally taken by someone on stage singing Coal Keeps the Lights On, I struggle daily at my little non-profit to keep the lights on because of funding cuts and sequestrations, and this year will most likely have to cut critical programs and services for survivors of sexual violence because of this.

Yes, I will vote for ALG, but I don't want to do so simply because she is the lesser of two evils - which I don't believe to be the case.  I believe that this fierce, intelligent, tough, woman has the capacity to embrace and represent all Kentuckians, especially the ones who didn't make it on her "issues" page.  I urge fellow ALG supporters to continue challenging her and questioning her on issues that affect you and people around you.  Let's not forget that even if she wins this battle, she still has Washington, D.C. to face.  She can handle it.  She'll thank you for it. 

Kentucky will thank you for it. 

We wouldn't be Americans otherwise.

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