Obamarama

*** Originally I had planned to write about a new study on fertility in older women, but given the circumstances, that seems ill-timed! Instead, here’s a more personal post about how I’m feeling as a Canadian-American on the day after Obama’s re-election.***

In 1998, I moved to the US by way of California thinking that I was embarking on a six month adventure.  Fifteen years later, and I’m still here. I fell in love. I went to graduate school. I had a child. I bought a house.

There are lots of things I love about this country. The diversity of people and their incredible creativity is amazing. Where else could you go to a Rastafarian festival one weekend and eat deep fried Jell-o at the State Fair the next?  The landscape is astonishing – mountains, ocean, desert, canyons, and everything in between. In much of the country, the weather is gentle, the food is cheap, and as my father always says, you can get anything you want any time. If you want sushi at 3am, you can get it, even in a small city in the south.  If you need an oil change on a Sunday morning, no problem.

I spent last winter traveling in Europe, and it made me appreciate Americans even more. They’re friendly, they’re inclusive, and they’re pretty non-judgmental. I am able to support myself doing the things I love, which seems like it might be impossible if I lived somewhere else.

The last time I was in Canada, we drove for hours without seeing so much as a Tim Hortons. Everything was closed on Sunday, and a container of parmesan cheese cost $7. And it was really, really freezing cold.

However.

If I lived in Ottawa, the city where I grew up, my entire family would have health insurance.  I could marry my partner, and her name would be on our son’s birth certificate. I would have gotten a year of paid maternity leave.

When I first moved to this country, nabbing a job with health insurance seemed like such a prize. Signing up for my first insurance plan, I got a delicious thrill: now I was one of the chosen.

Fifteen years later, I’ve been through every permutation of health insurance. I’ve been completely uninsured (as I am now), I’ve had a plan with a very high deductible, and I’ve had excellent insurance that covered Tylenol and prescription sunglasses. I’ve been covered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Aetna, Kaiser Permanente and United Healthcare. I’ve had minor surgery, been hospitalized for two weeks, and had a premature infant in the hospital for 63 days.

It’s given me some perspective on this healthcare system, and it’s made me appreciate the effort that President Obama has put into trying to fix this unwieldy, chaotic mess.

I like him because he doesn’t try to punish poor people. He doesn’t try to score political points by declaring war women’s bodies. He actually did something about healthcare, which seemed virtually impossible.

That Obama was reelected means that the Affordable Care Act is really going to be enacted (seriously y’all, the man needs eight years to make this work!). Finally, we can move on from debating about whether this act should be repealed and get down to the details of enforcement.

In 2004, I was a graduate student living in Iowa. When I got the news that Bush had stolen the election again been reelected, it was like being kicked in the stomach. People on campus were literally walking around crying. It was a dark day, and it felt very hopeless, and I spent a lot of time wondering if I should move back to Canada.

I don’t think Obama is perfect, but as cheesy as it sounds, he gives me hope that things could get – and stay—better. It makes me actually feel okay about being an American. He makes me like this country, and he makes me want to stay.

What do you think? How are you feeling about America today?

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