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This Is Why We All Need to Vote Like a Parent in 2016

Photograph by Twenty20

I live in Michigan. I'm normally pretty proud of that fact.

But over the past few weeks, it's become clear that I live in a state where our governor, Rick Snyder, and an "emergency manager" that the governor appointed POISONED the drinking water of an entire city, due their gross negligence and their desire to save a few bucks.

So I am not particularly proud to live in Michigan at the moment.

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For those unfamiliar with the crisis, as a cost-savings measure, Rick Snyder's team changed the water supply of Flint, Mich., to an untreated, untested source, which dangerously increased the lead levels in the blood of local children and made the water undrinkable. Only after intense public shaming did Snyder's administration acknowledge the situation and declare a state of emergency.

As I watch this crisis unfold and as my heart hurts for everyone who lives in the marginalized and abused city of Flint right now, one thought keeps crossing my mind over and over.

I am done with partisan politics. DONE. And you should be too.

Parents aren't just trying to get their party elected. Parents actually have a vested interest in making both the present and the future world a better place to live in.

I will never, ever consider myself a Democrat or a Republican again. Instead, I have a new political affiliation that finally makes sense to me: I am a PARENT.

It's that simple. The Parent Party is the party that I believe in, and I think 2016 will be a much brighter year for all of us if we all start voting like parents, too.

Because modern politics are all about binary systems. Everything is black and white, yes or no, our team or their team. But parents know that the world isn't that simple. Parents are the people who have to make the hard decisions, who have to have the long-term view. Parents are people who, inherently, have to think about more than themselves, who have to manage their need to deal with immediate problems with their need to build a future worth living in for their children.

Parents aren't just trying to get their party elected. Parents actually have a vested interest in making both the present and the future world a better place to live in. And the current partisan system DOES NOT support that ideology.

So, forget it. Get rid of it. Burn it to the ground. The world doesn't need Republicans or Democrats or Libertarians or Green Parties right now. It needs PARENTS.

Because look at what's going on in the world right now.

Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, and his legal team allegedly offered a family $5 million dollars to suppress the dash-cam video of a police offer shooting their son. A Southern Californian gas company that had been approved by local legislators to drill near a Los Angeles neighborhood exposed residents to a gas cloud that made over 50 people sick (and continues to make people sick). The corporation's nonchalant response has been to say that they "regret" that "some people are sensitive to the odor."

And then there's Rick Snyder, a man who pushed through legislation allowing him to appoint emergency managers to fiscally struggling communities, along with legal protections for the EMs to protect them from almost any consequences from their actions, which probably sounded like a great idea until the EM made a decision that will drastically impact the lives—and the mental and physical health—of THOUSANDS of Michigan families for DECADES to come.

Sadly, these are just a few local issues. This is just scraping the surface. Even though these incidents are all horrific and negligent and impact the lives of thousands of children, they're just regional incidents. This isn't even the big stuff that's happening around the globe.

It's disgusting. And the Democrats and the Republicans are not going to fix it. Because they don't want to fix it. That's not their primary goal. Their primary goal is to make sure their team wins. That's their priority. And, to achieve that priority, they will cut corners, they'll compromise, and they always, always go for the instant gratification rather than the long-term fix.

Having biological children does not make you a parent. But caring about children and working to better the welfare of children does.

But do you know who honestly wants to make the world a better place? PARENTS. Why? Because we have skin in the game. Because we know how to manage priorities for the greater good. Because we care about what happens beyond our own lives.

Yes, I know that civic leaders like Rick Snyder and Rahm Emanuel DO have children, but they don't act like it. They've chosen to be politicians first and parents second. Because having biological children does not make you a parent. But caring about children and working to better the welfare of children does. You don't have to have children to vote like a parent. You just have to care about more than yourself.

From this point on, I'm done voting down party lines. I will no longer support any candidate that places their political agenda above their parental priorities. That might mean ignoring candidates that I once admired or voting against the parties I've traditionally supported.

Because parents—TRUE parents—know that to raise children in this world, you need to have equal parts pragmatism and empathy. You can't have one without the other. And I'm not seeing a lot of empathy in Michigan right now. Or Chicago. Or Southern California. And that's a problem.

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But it's a problem we can fix.

Commit to voting like a parent in 2016. Demand for candidates who can walk and chew gum at the same time, candidates who can worry about finances and their children's quality of life—just like every good parent does every damn day of their lives.

The Democrats and Republicans do not care about your children. But parents, true parents, do, and, from this point on, I will actively seek them out in political arenas and give them as much support as I can.

I hope you'll join me and try to make 2016 a year that will make parents proud.

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