I don't know how much you'll listen to me or care, but I want to try to tell this to you, because it's important to me.
Just a few years ago, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and didn't really care. I just played games and had no goals, dreams, plans, or anything. But in 2008, I felt enamored in the electrifying debates happening at home, online, on TV, and everywhere else. I became intensely interested in politics, and as of now, I have close to fifty books on my bookcase, about half of which are about political topics. More importantly, I found out what I wanted to do with my education, and this fall, I will be taking classes on the judicial branch and the 2012 election.
I don't know exactly why or what got me into it so much and how I got to care so much about it. All I know is that right now, I really do want to do what I feel is best not only for myself, but for other people. I want to help others, even for no benefit to myself, and that is a big drive in my current interest in and studies of my college major.
When I voted for Obama, I didn't do it because anyone else told me to, I didn't do it simply because it was what most people my age did, or because my brother voted for him, or for any other similar reason. I did it because I read articles online and researched his positions, compared them to McCain's, and determined that McCain would be too similar to the Bush that everyone hated, whereas Obama at least was not Dubya.
I want to lay out some things that are important to me, and as your son, hopefully are also important to you, and also things that you should care about on your own.
First, immigration. I know that is a very important topic for you, among others. Recently, Obama signed an executive order would exempt some young children of illegal immigrants from immediate deportation, as well as college students, and allow them to get worker's permits that must be renewed every two years – an important aspect of this order is it doesn't allow for a path of citizenship, it only gives them a work permit, at least as far as I am aware. He wanted to make, but failed to get passed, a law that would create a path to citizenship for immigrants without a violent criminal record to by getting an education, doing community service, and/or serving in the military – this proposed law was known as the DREAM Act. In contrast, Romney has said he was against the executive order that Obama signed, usually saying that it complicated a “long-term solution,” even though he also said he would veto the DREAM Act, the only good comprehensive immigration reform proposed in recent times. Meanwhile, Obama has deported more illegal immigrants in his first term than Bush had done in his entire eight years. Obama wants to create a legal path to citizenship that would allow bright, young, intelligent people to enter the country; the kind of people who might spur the economy by creating new businesses, being good teachers, etc., while cracking down much harder than Bush ever did on illegal immigration. Compare that to Romney, who essentially has said he would do nothing.
The next most important thing I know you care about is marijuana legalization. It's true that Obama has been pretty terrible on this, with all of his crackdowns on state medicinal marijuana facilities. Romney is not any better, though. I know this will take awhile to type up in a computer, but if you can, please get to one and type this in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vklb9Wed8B4 If you can't get to a computer to watch this, I will summarize. It is a video of Romney being approached by a man, disabled in a wheelchair due to a muscle disease, who says he has tried every prescription medication he's been given. They make him sick, do not help his medical problems, and that only medical marijuana has helped him, yet Romney just bluntly states that he does not support medical marijuana (or any form of legalization of it). The point is that since both candidates fail on this issue, it isn't one you should vote on, because you're not winning on it either way.
The last issue I know that is probably among the most important to you is war and the military. Obama has officially ended the Iraq War, he made plans to wind down and eventually exit Afghanistan, and has been resistant to aggression to Iran. Romney called Obama's withdrawl from Iraq an “astonishing failure,” he criticized Obama for planning to pull troops out of Afghanistan beginning in 2014, and has said he is open to the idea of military action in Iran over their nuclear program, even though the Supreme Leader of Iran has said that nuclear weapons “are a sin.” Also, this is interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCY30FXgLVY Apparently, Iran only might have nuclear weapons, and only maybe in five years. It's also worth noting that, other than paranoid propaganda you might hear on Fox News or CNN and the like, there are no actual records decisively proving that they are indeed making or intending to make nuclear weapons. If you don't want more needless war that costs trillions of dollars for no reason, Romney is not your man.
Those are the main issues I know you'd probably care for, and there are many more you'd care to hear, but that would make this letter to big (random example: Romney does not support labor unions like the one you used to work in [the carpenter's union], Obama does), but there's more to this letter than that. There are things that are important to me.
I have never had health insurance in my life, but with the Supreme Court's ruling that the Affordable Care Act is constitutionally legal, by 2014, I may indeed get some. The law says that if you make less than 35,000 a year, you can get subsidized, essentially meaning I would get free health insurance. If you make more than 35,000 and you choose not to buy health insurance, only in that case would a person be subjected to a tax for not buying any insurance. The law does many other things: it gives the FDA power to approve more generic cheaper drugs; decreases the cost of drugs through Medicare; bans insurance companies from denying insurance to those with pre-existing conditions (such as Mom's history of cancer, or your bad back, or Wes' diabetes – not that any of that matters since all of you already get public health insurance through medicaid and medicare, but since I don't and you all would be counted in my family's medical history, it is important for me); prohibits insurance companies from issuing a “lifetime limit” that when reached, the insurance would no longer cover for anything; allows people to stay on their parents' health insurance plans until age 26; bans insurance companies from dropping people once they get sick and puts limits on how much and how often they can raise their prices; they must tell customers on receipts what the costs are for in detail (they cannot hide it simply under “administrative fees” [i.e. their payrolls]); raises taxes by 0.9% for those making over $200,000 annually; prohibits insurance companies from charging women more than men for the exact same coverage plans; bans annual spending caps on insurance; gives small businesses tax credits to help them provide employees with insurance, while also mandating that businesses with over 50 employees insure them or pay a tax; a tax on pharmaceutical companies; makes it so that insurance companies must spend 80% of the money paid into premiums for actual healthcare costs; and allows states to come up with their own alternatives to the Affordable Care Act if they do not wish to participate in it, but only if it covers, at minimum, just as many people and just as effectively as what the ACA would have. And much more.
The other major thing that's important to me is, as uncomfortable as it may make you to read this, gay rights. No matter how little we talk about it, no matter how much you avoid the conversation, it's not going away, and I'm not going to stop, because I am not able to do so. Obama has openly said that he personally supports my right to marry anyone of my choosing. He ordered the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act in courts, a law that allows states to ban gay marriage, to ignore gay marriages that were legal in other states, and also denies gay couples who do manage to get married in a state that allows it any and all benefits that the federal government gives to everyone else who are married (example: inheritance taxes for when your spouse dies and you inherit their wealth is higher for gay couples, because they do not get any tax reductions that straight couples get; it also causes many legally married gay couples who serve in the military to be denied medical and financial benefits that they'd normally get, and so on). He also repealed Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Romney supported Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and has said he does not support gay marriage or civil unions that “have the same rights and benefits” as straight marriage. It is worth noting that Nevada has a domestic partnership law, allowing gay couples in your state to receive some limited benefits. I know these aren't things that you care about, but I care about them deeply.
I know that you and Mom had voted for Kerry and that he had lost to Bush, and after that, you had stopped voting and gave up on the system. I know that Bush screwed up the economy, had wars in the middle east that no one wanted, and had done countless other things that I didn't understand or know about until more recent years. Obama's message that he ran was basically not being Bush. My vote this year won't matter, Oklahoma is guaranteed to go to Romney, and I will vote only in protest. Mom's in even worse shape: she literally can't vote because of the Voter ID law in Oklahoma. Nevada, in contrast, is a swing state, and Obama won it in 2008. Your vote, unlike mine, isn't a worthless vote. It might make a difference. I'm not happy with everything Obama has done – he should've pushed for a public option or single-payer healthcare system, not a private insurance mandate; he should've tried harder to legalize marijuana instead of continuing the worthless war on drugs; he should've filed criminal lawsuits against the people on Wall Street who caused the recession (but at least he signed the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which while didn't do enough, at least limited banks and Wall Street a little, whereas Romney has said corporations are people). Still, the facts are undeniable. Unemployment has fallen under Obama, federal spending is down, illegal immigrants are being deported more while being given more legal alternatives, more people than ever have health insurance, he protected the Pell Grant that provides people like me with thousands of dollars to go to college that Republicans wanted to destroy and is pushing to keep the Republicans from doubling the interest rate on student loans, he has been about as anti-war as you could realistically hope for from a politician, and he is a lot damn better than Romney could ever be.
I'm begging for you to register to vote, and do the right thing when your moment of truth comes.