Election results affect people living with MS and other chronic illnesses more than most people realize. Each person has issues that are important to themselves, but there are many other reasons to carefully select a candidate. There are so many things to think about, and now is a good time to think about it with the elections coming up. Mid-term elections are just two months away, and this particular year, with the country so polarized, things may be different from other years.
When the U.S. government creates legislation and takes the country in a definite direction, citizens have the right to show they do or do not agree. Mostly, they elect or re-elect candidates with similar philosophies to their own. In addition, citizens have a right to question and protest or rally any legislation.
Especially over the last several decades, political parties have been developing based on specialty interest groups. Some have even reached the status of a possible viable third party, capable of competing with the big two. Remember H. Ross Perot and the Reform Party? The Reform Party continues to enter Independent candidates for many offices, including President, but not with the same level of success as the Perot run. Let's look at some other present day contenders.
Of course there are the big two, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Minor parties include Constitution Party since 1992, Green Party since1996, and Libertarian Party since 1971. There are at least 25 active parties that are even smaller, including the Communist Party of the United States of America (since 1919) and three separate socialist parties. Browse the long list of parties to see if your favorites are included.
And then there's the Tea Party. This is not really a political party, but a socio-political movement based on a series of protests to federal laws. The name "Tea Party" is a reference to the 1773 Boston Tea Party protesting an import tax among other laws imposed by the ruling British Government. The Tea Party Movement has succeeded at highlighting bills with extra "pork" in them (what is perceived as excess spending), and identifying those bills that are perceived to go beyond the reach of the Constitution, but it also succeeded in adding to the polarization. The Movement has also begun to support candidates who agree with their platform. Although the Tea Party Movement is not a political party, it does have a political agenda.
Voters have the opportunity to vote for a straight ticket covering all categories in which that political party has offered a candidate, or select individual candidates across party lines based on their stated position on various issues.
I didn't find a party that focused on chronic diseases, but then that is not surprising. However, the United States Marijuana Party (since 2002) does address the symptoms of chronic disease, and that still seems rather narrow for a party. Medical marijuana is a valid issue across party lines. There are too many issues to focus only on one MS, but each party or candidate can support chronic illness or MS in particular, like accessibility and programs for the chronic illness population. Understanding this population is something that might influence our voting choices.
The 2010 Census sent out questionnaires and then interviewers if the form is not returned. The goal of this Census, required by the U.S. Constitution, is to determine how many people live in the United States, and specifically where all of these people live. These statistics are used to determine the number of Congressional representatives are seated from each state and to re-draw district lines when populations change. You probably already know that, but there's more.
As the population grows and ages, the Baby Boomer generation (those born between 1946-1964), once the dynamic workforce of leaders, is becoming the new majority made up of a different sort of constituent. Predictions are that there will be age-related and obesity-related disabilities as well as other chronic illnesses. For example, in the coming years, the number of people aged 90 - 94 will increase by 275 percent while 95 - 99 will increase by 424 percent. In fact, between 2010 and 2050, the population of those over 100 years old is predicted to increase over 900 percent! This Population Tsunami shows the American elderly population growing rapidly. They will be requiring health care, accessibility, disease management techniques and housing. The government will have to provide them or contract someone who will.
It Counts to Have a Disability or chronic disease - literally. Census data "are used by government policy makers and legislators as important indicators of our nation’s economic situation and for planning and evaluating many government programs." Some of these programs, such as accessibility in and around a city or state infrastructure, specifically address problems that come with chronic illness.
This year the Census will count the unemployed, those who live below the poverty line, and everyone who is homeless. These statistics are very important to prepare for better programs to address these situations. This sounds like a big job to me.
The National MS Society (NMSS) often highlights candidates who have introduced or supported legislation that affects MS. That can be included in your voting decision-making. If you don't find what you are looking for, call your local chapter and ask.
Your chapter of the NMSS will also be glad to help you with registration and obtaining your mail-in ballot if you wish. Check the dates to register, request and return the ballot.
Published On: September 02, 2010