- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Following the RNC in Tampa and the DNC in Charlotte, people on both sides of the political fault line are gearing up for the race to the November election.
While solutions are being tossed about to improve the economy, cut debt, create more jobs and improve education, people are toeing the line about the same old issue that’s split Republicans and Democrats for decades—the haves and the have-nots.
One side thinks government is doing too much for the have-nots and encourages people to help themselves. They encourage you to build your ladder. Climb up the steps and achieve success. Work hard and the hard work pays off, they claim. They have many success stories to illustrate their point.
Too often these champions of financial and professional success turn a blind eye to the reality of what happens to the most motivated when they don’t have enough to start with.
The other political side argues helping people get a foundation with government assistance allows the have-nots to become haves. Help and they’ll give back to society, they argue.
But few on this side acknowledge how many take advantage of the system. The numbers are there—far too many on assistance don’t get ahead because the “help” can make it too easy to stay where they are.
While both parties stand firmly on their respective sides, somewhere along the way people in the middle are lost. If you’re from a working-class family, chances are you’re getting shuffled around in the rhetoric.
What about the people who have now, but didn’t have then? Or who have, but don’t have enough?
My mom was the first in her family to go to college. She didn’t get her degree, but there was one thing of which she was certain—I would.
It would have been easy for me to think college was out of reach. Mom worked in a factory. She scraped and saved. At the time, no one in my family had gotten a four-year degree; few even considered college. We did things like factory work and farming and had for generations.
I started my education in federally funded Head Start. My great-grandmother sometimes shared food from USDA commodities distributions. I sometimes qualified for free or reduced meals at school. How could we ever afford college?
But my mom was determined. It didn’t matter how hard she had to work or how hard I had to study I would get a degree.
I got my first job as a teen. I balanced extra-curriculars with advanced-placement classes while babysitting at night and on weekends.
My first fulltime stint was babysitting two boys while their mom, our community’s first female city police officer, worked afternoons and nights.
Mom and I shared a car. We shuffled schedules, but her focus was always on my studies.
When I brought home a “C,” she’d tell me C’s were for average kids. I wasn’t average and could do better.
I was an above-average student, but not stellar. While I had opportunities to study at a variety of colleges and universities, there were no free rides. I applied for scholarships and grants. I tucked away money from babysitting. I visited campuses and did scholarship interviews.
Eventually, I was blessed with scholarships, but for a four-year degree, it wasn’t enough.
We supplemented the college dream with student loans, work-study, bank loans, scholarships and federal Pell grants.
Within days of settling into college I started a job. Then I added a second. All four years I worked two and three jobs at a time. I scraped to buy supplies for my ladder to success.
But it wasn’t enough.
I couldn’t have succeeded without federal assistance. Determination wasn’t enough. Working hard wasn’t enough.
Whether it was Head Start, free or reduced meals at school or federal grants for college, I needed help to stand on solid ground.
It paid off.
After college, I started a career. I paid off my loans and have consistently been a hard-working taxpayer. It’s highly unlikely I will ever be rich, but I am a success story.
And I’m not an anomaly.
People who have similar stories can’t be overlooked as Republicans and Democrats stand by the great political divide.
Our country is racing to the November General Election. While we’re doing it, parties are planted on either side of the political fault-line. It can erupt at anytime; already there’s been enough rumbling.
But the solution is somewhere in the middle. Free enterprise and a vibrant economy are essential in allowing those with can-do attitudes and solid work ethics to be successful, but it’s more than that.
Sometimes, life happens. Businesses close. People get paid too little. Hardships happen.
You have never needed government aid? Count your blessings, but don’t assume those who did were lazy or didn’t work hard enough or should have done more.
Standing on either side doesn’t fix the problem; it just makes a greater divide.