Someone recently asked me the unexpected question of which political party I belong to. It’s unexpected because it’s not something that I’ve really sat down to ponder on. I don’t consider myself to be that much of a political person because I’ve always believed that politics are just what it is: POLITICS; one party throwing the other person under the bus just to appear more appealing to the mass.
But this year’s Republican and Democratic National Conventions made me realize that politics is alot more than that. I must be concerned about who will be leading the country I live in because it shapes my life, shapes the type of society my children will live in, and the type of life they will live.
I told my friend that if I were to choose a party this year I would go with the Democrats, not because I believe in all the values, ideas and policies of the party, but because it comes closest to my idea of the perfect model for a society. Simply put, my model is an egalitarian society where justice, equality, and opportunities are available to anyone regardless of their race, religion, background, sexuality wealth, affiliations, and all the things that are used to establish barriers in our society today. My philosophy is that if God was kind enough to give all of us a chance at life, then we must be kind enough to treat each other as equals and provide the same opportunities for each individual. There is a reason why a homeless man breathes the same air as the richest man in the world: No one is better or superior to the other! But society today is framed to make us think otherwise.
As I watched the Democratic National Convention last night, I saw my life’s journey reflected in the story of Julian Castro, Barack and Michelle Obama. I was reminded of the reason why my parents made the difficult sacrifice of leaving their home and family in Ghana, West Africa to start a new, unpredictable life in the United States. They knew that although they weren’t able to fulfill their dreams in their country, if they made the sacrifice for their children, they can make those dreams a reality in the land of opportunity, the United States. My parents did menial jobs that barely kept the family going. If it weren’t for the scholarship I received as a result of my excellent academic achievements and the additional financial aid, I wouldn’t be writing this as a Summa Cum Laude graduate of a prestigious university.
Julian Castro mentioned in his speech that people like us struggle to make it not because of our lack of drive or determination, but because of the lack of opportunity. I had the dream of starting my own media company since I was as little as I could remember. For a very long time, I struggled to make that dream a reality because unlike Mitt Romney, I did not have the option of borrowing money from my parents to start my business. As a matter of fact, my parents were rather waiting on me to make some money quickly so I can retire them from the long years of hard labor.
Till today, I still have the drive and determination of being the first in my family to start a successful business, however, I am still faced with many difficulties because I simply don’t have access to opportunities. I have to create them for myself or work ten times as hard as my counterparts to be able to get them. I don’t mind even working twenty times as hard if that’s what will get me there. In fact, that’s what I’m doing now. But why shouldn’t I be entitled to the same opportunities as my counterparts in the country that is founded by immigrants and that is considered to be the land of opportunities?
To me, this is what makes the big difference between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats get it, not because providing equal opportunity and access to resources is just the sound thing to do, but because they themselves have lived it, they’ve been there, and they understand the story, struggles, challenges that every immigrant or poor person endures. They understand the foundation on which this country was built, and they understand that upholding the true values of America means providing opportunities to everyone, and establishing a society where those who make it to the top feel an obligation to reach out to those at the bottom.
Michelle Obama and Julian Castro in their speeches reaffirmed that I am not alone, that WE are not alone. They reaffirmed that they understand because they have been there, and most importantly they are working to make life easier for me, and possibly for my future children. Not only do I have immense respect for their courage and determination, I am also inspired when I see where their fortitude and hard work has taken them.
So as an African immigrant, I stand with Barack Obama and I wish him a successful re-election in November. Even if nothing were to be accomplished for the next four years of his presidency, I would stand proud knowing that I am not alone and that someone who once lived my struggles saw it worthy of fighting for me and tried!