By Aurora Saldivar, Coachella Unincorporated
CHARLOTTE, NC – It got personal for me at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Election day is just around the corner, and the Democrats humanized campaign issues for me at the DNC, bringing them down to earth, into the hearts and homes of Americans across the nation.
As Michelle Obama so eloquently explained in her speech, “It’s not political, it’s personal.” The Time Warner Cable Arena echoed with similar sentiments all last week as the Democratic Party addressed the nation to nominate Barack Obama for a second term and introduce their campaign platform.
“It’s time to do some nation building here at home,” said Obama in his acceptance speech.
While 2008 was an election for hope amid a surge of idealism, 2012 is a time for action. In Charlotte, Democrats emphasized the need to strengthen the middle class, with the understanding that building up a strong middle class is a key component for moving America forward.
I couldn’t agree more. The most dangerous war to be fought is that against each other on domestic issues here at home. Before we view our country as an epic tug-of-war between Republicans and Democrats, we must first and foremost remember that it is comprised of people and families. This election year, Democrats have chosen to highlight the average American, the vital pulse of our nation commonly undervalued and unacknowledged.
This election year, I find that my generation is put in a unique position to shape and define our country’s reality. Our voice matters more than ever this election. The importance of the issues far outweighs the differences between two candidates or two parties. This is an election for voices, the voices of diverse communities all across our country.
This will be my first chance to vote in a Presidential election, and I feel as if my whole world is at stake. With health care, immigration reform, cost of higher education, and our job market, I believe my future and that of my entire generation lies in the balance. The path to becoming an adult is daunting enough, and now I worry that this college degree I am struggling to get will be useless in this economy. I also worry about what the outcome of this election will mean for my Eastern Coachella Valley community. You can barely locate it on the map, but it is full of people striving to protect their health and dignity.
A predominantly Latino community, the Eastern Coachella Valley knows the price of hope. Our families have labored and toiled to provide opportunities. We have a huge immigrant population, some of whom are young undocumented students who have grown up as “American,” but who have been in danger of being deported to home country they do not know. Our community is made up of people with limited access to health care and farm workers with limited access to healthy food.
I don’t want a government that will leave my community behind in the dust, or advocate policies to push my neighbors to self-deport. That is not the United States that I know.
Speakers at both the Democratic and Republican conventions spoke about the American Dream, but it’s hard to talk about dreams when we are tripping over the realties.
The issues at the DNC weren’t just personal for the First Lady and me. It got personal for Jacqueline Lopez, a delegate from the Eastern Coachella Valley, when she heard San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro’s speech. She was reminded of her own mother, her children, her own family’s experiences. I am sure she was not alone. Millions of people across the country saw themselves, their struggles, their dreams, on that stage in Charlotte.
This election when I go to the ballot box to cast my vote for president, it will not be a question of party politics or affiliation but rather my attempt to answer this question: What kind of country will I be able to build a life in?
It doesn’t get more personal than that.
Coachella Unincorporated reporter Aurora Saldivar is a Thermal resident and student at College of the Desert. She attended the Democratic National Convention as a guest of New America Media funder, The California Endowment.