By Lexie McCaskill, NOW Membership Intern
With so many issues hanging in the balance, this election was very stressful for me. On a personal level, the most important issue was the threat of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. I have epilepsy, for which I have to take very expensive medicine. Thankfully, for now I am covered under my mom’s insurance, but if the protection of people with pre-existing conditions were repealed, I might not be able find anyone willing to insure me, making my medication unaffordable.
I’m not the only one with this story, so it baffles me that anyone would want to let so many people go without lifesaving health insurance. I was having regular internal panic attacks at the idea of not having health insurance. I was also very concerned about the possibility of women losing the right to choose. It has been over 30 years since Roe v. Wade was decided, so why is abortion still such a big issue? I was also troubled by the issue of what constituted rape. I have personal experience seeing what rape can do to a woman, and I was appalled at how some men think so lightly of the crime of rape and its consequences. With all these issues tearing at me, I began to feel helpless, not knowing what I could do to make a difference.
The negativity of the election and the lack of substance in the discussion of issues left me seriously considering moving to Switzerland and living with my distant cousins just to get away from it all! In the end, I realized that if women are to gain traction in this country, passionate young women like me will have to stick it out and continue working to gain equality and the guarantee that we can control our own bodies. I started volunteering at my local Virginia Precinct, canvassing and phone banking, hoping I could get President Obama’s message out there. I went with some NOW staff members to George Mason University to get students excited to vote and knowledgeable about feminist issues in the election. I hoped that the effort I put in would make a difference come Election Day.
As the election approached I became more and more stressed out. I kept thinking about what would happen if Romney won and/or conservatives gained control of the Senate. Shortly after 11:00 pm, when CNN announced Obama’s victory, a huge sense of euphoria engulfed me. On top of the president’s re-election, three states passed laws allowing same-sex marriage, Tammy Baldwin became the first openly lesbian or gay politician elected to the Senate, and many other women candidates won their races. Every once in a while I still get a giddy feeling knowing that the Affordable Care Act will stand, women are closer to securing equal rights, and more people are able to marry whomever they wish. My love for politics withstood the election drama, and I can move forward as a strong, confident woman determined to fight for what I believe in, knowing anything is possible as long as I try.