As if I needed any more incentive to vote for President Obama in the upcoming election, I stumbled upon another bit of inspiration this weekend at, of all places, my parents' Halloween party. Remember that one? The one where politics couldn't be discussed?
I learned on Friday evening that the Halloween event I was to attend with friends had been moved to Saturday, so I decided to stay home, enjoy the free liquor, and spend the night relaxing. Politics had no part in the equation.
That, of course, was before I saw the cute girl with black ringlets running around the patio and screaming her head off in the good-natured way of very small children having an awesome time.
"Is she yours?" I asked Progressive Man when I caught him waving at her.
"Yeah," he smiled.
"She's so adorable," I replied. "How old is she?"
"She's actually eight," he answered.
I tried to keep my surprise in check; the child he referred to looked no older than four or five.
"Oh," I remarked. "She's so petite."
"Well, part of that is her health," he said. "She has a congenital condition. Have you ever heard of the bubble boy?"
"She basically has a suppressed immune system. Almost no resistance to germs."
I looked at the girl again. She was flying through the dirt at the tail of a grade-school horde and, but for her small stature and oversized head, seemed like any of the other children.
"How is it that she can be out here?" I asked. "You know, like, with the other kids?"
"Well, we have her on this gene therapy that's been really successful. The condition is pretty rare, though, and the cost for her medicine is through the roof. It's about $100,000 a year."
This time I didn't even attempt to hide my shock.
"That's crazy," I said. "How are you--I mean, I hope you don't think I'm being rude, but how are you doing that?"
"Well, the insurance company is paying for it," he said with a lift of his eyebrows.
"They haven't tried to jerk you around with that?"
"They can't," he said. "At least not now. Since Obamacare passed there are no lifetime caps. So we're in a good situation. But if my wife loses her job or Romney gets elected...it's something we worry about a lot. That we'll lose our insurance if she has to switch employers or that they'll change the law and the insurance company will cut us off."
I cast my eyes toward the children shrieking in the field. What could I say?
But I realized in that moment, more than at any other, the huge import this country's November 6 decision carries. If Mitt Romney is elected president, political theories and abstract concepts of government won't bear the brunt of his policies; it will be people. Real people, real college graduates who can't find work, real senior citizens who have every "preexisting condition" in the book, real men whose daughters are only alive because they have access to gene therapy. The election is the only thing standing between them and something too horrible to speak of.
We have to get this right.