Today, I am ready to say that I support progressive candidates
Note: This piece was written back in February during the Iowa caucus and the first few primaries
First of all, not that my vote would matter to begin with because I am not a US citizen. However, I am proud of myself because I have finally arrived at some paths I want to follow.
I have not cared much about US politics until recently. Why? I was born and raised in Vietnam. Growing up, I was fascinated with Vietnam and China history. One summer, all I did was reading history books of China. I remember once I even cried because Quang Trung died at such a young age. Till this day, I wonder how my country would be like now if he had not died early.
I moved to the US about 12 years ago. Soon, there was the 2008 presidential election. I was hoping Hillary would win. As an 18 year old, I knew nothing about her policy. I wanted her to win because she is from the Democratic party and she is a woman. When Obama won the party nomination, I was a bit sad. That Fall, McCain and Obama competed for the presidential election. I supported McCain because I did not believe in gay marriage and marijuana legalization. A really good friend of mine ( we took a few Math classes together) asked me why I supported McCain. All I could say is that ” well, I am against gay marriage. Marriage should be between a man and a woman.” She then proceed further by asking ” Why do you think marriage should be between a man and a woman?”, I could not find a good argument to response to her because all I could think of is that marriage between a man and a woman was the norm that I grew up with. Now whenever I think about that incident, I feel so dumb. Do we all want happiness for our marriage ? If that’s the case, why does it matter that a marriage has to be between a man and a woman?
Fast forward to 2013 when I moved to Iowa City for grad school, I still barely cared about US politics. Actually around this time, I started to pay attention to Vietnam politics. I became more vocal about what I did not like about politics back home. Of course, there is no such thing as freedom of speech in Vietnam, I was really cautious of what I said. Then came 2016 and another presidential election. This time, I was thrilled with Hillary as the nominated candidate from the Democratic Party. Nevertheless, I still knew nothing about her policy. I paid more attention to the election that year most likely because of Trump. I was like “WTF” when he got nominated by the GOP. I watched some of his speech, and I could not comprehend how people cheered for him. I was shocked when he got elected. Nevertheless, a couple good friends of mine supported him and they seem to know more about US politics that I did, so I told myself maybe there would be some good things about this guy. That being said, after that shocking election, I quickly got back to my normal routine: research and blogging/reading about Vietnam politics. I did notice some difference under Trump administration. For example, less funding for graduate students like me, more shooting on the news, etc. Nevertheless, I barely cared much because I thought politics in Vietnam was much more corrupted. As I read more about Vietnam politics, I realized that it was hard not to take the relationship between China and US into the big picture. However, around that time, I found out I was pregnant, and so my side study project was put aside. And from that moment until recently, my life was all about research and raising kid.
Then came a hot and humid summer day in July, my husband and I rushed into the labor room. Soon we were informed that we would be having our son that day. I was only 30 week pregnant. They had to delay the laboring process so that they could strengthen my baby’s lung and brain before he come out. The first 2–3 hours, I had nothing on my mind. Trust me, politics was the last thing on my mind at the moment when labor pain was like a strong ocean wave that came every minute. I received epidural afterward and soon I was able to relax. As I lay there the entire day, I started to think about life and wondered what if my son and I could not make it through this. I asked myself what I would regret if I had to leave this world at that moment. Apparently, I had lots of regrets hahahah, and one of the items on the list that day was not getting much involved in the society. A few hours later, my son was born. He stayed in the NICU for 10 weeks.
After I got discharged, the reality soon hit that I had 2 kids. The scary part was that my insurance would not be covered by the university in less than 2 months. I would not get any stipend or support because I would be in my 7th year of the PhD program ( support ends at the end of year 6). My husband’s adjunct lecturer position would not pay enough and would not provide us with any benefit. My job search till that point had not had returned positive. I had a few interviews but that was it. It was indeed a really stressful time financially. I was somewhat depressed. I questioned myself and my ability. I was going to get a PhD and my husband has a master, and we were on the verge of not being able to provide for our family. That was just incomprehensible.
Fast forward to a few months later when I moved to Indianapolis for a postdoc. I stayed here for a month by myself since the rest of the family was still in Iowa City. That month, I was able to have sometimes to myself to start reading non-research stuff. One day, I ran into an article on Medium about Warren’s plan on Universal Child Care, and the plan just spoke to me instantly. I was thrilled and excited. We all know how expensive child care in the US is. My husband and I all know that even though we are highly educated, we won’t be able to afford to send our kids to quality child care even if we both work full time. Anyway, I looked more into Warren’s policy and found myself aligned with lots of her points such as Medicare for all, great public school system, affordable higher education, higher tax rates for corporations, and ultra-millionaire tax. I also like that she has a detailed plan for almost everything. I especially like that she converted to a Democrat from a GOP after years of researching.
Because of Warren, I started to care about the presidential election and the US political scene ( the latter one is quite unjust in many circumstances). Since I like Warren’s policy, it did not take me that long to like other progressive runners. The moment I knew about Bernie’s policy and his 2016 campaign, I felt so dumb to support Hillary just because she is a woman and I felt like it’s time to have a woman president while the majority of my core values has been more aligned with progressive ideas.
So yeah call me socialist or communist as you wish ( as how the news and social media these days refer to progressive runners). I myself know that I don’t support authoritarian or dictatorship. I myself know that I don’t just sit around and wait for social benefits ( as how lots of news outlets and social media portray people supporting socialism). I work hard and I can also fight hard ( even though I am new to this fight). I stand with progressive runners because I support affordable health care, affordable child care, affordable education, women rights, pro-choice movement, gay marriage, and many many more.