By: Brian McLain
In the late 90s, a decade that many Democrats call “Camelot”, I struck out on my own as an adult. It was okay for a little while, but it all came crashing down pretty fast. I spent the first half of my adult life in poverty.
Struggling to make housing payments.
Maybe having health insurance but usually not.
Having “looks like it’s just ramen and peanut butter sandwiches every meal again” months.
Telling my wife to keep driving the car around while I scrounge up the money to pay the late car payment so the repo men would go away.
Prices rising faster than we could keep up and I had to go in debt just to pay the bills I was pulling out of a hat. Overdraft? Overdraft fees. Water shut off? Late fees. The electricity shut off? Reconnection fees. I was working two jobs but still being told I wasn’t working hard enough.
I still hear Democrats call that time “Camelot”, but it wasn’t Camelot for me.
It wasn’t Camelot for a lot of us.
It was a cementing of a neoliberal, austerity-fest with cheap credit pumped in the system to make up for the wages being suppressed. It was when welfare had a work requirement attached.
It was when the poverty phase-out rate was lowered to cut more people off of assistance. But it didn’t matter because by then I had drummed into my head that if you asked for help you were a failure. You were giving up. You were a ward of the state. That drumming didn’t stop just because a Democrat was in office. It only intensified.
So here I am. I am a union member. I am finally free from poverty. It took me 15 years, no thanks to any Democrat. It was my union that did that. One of the few that hadn’t been broken by trade agreements like NAFTA. I can finally care for my family and afford a dignified life for them but I am an exception and not the rule in this country and that is unacceptable.
So tell me again, Democrats, who still claim that Camelot was so great. Tell me why your candidate telling me that me fighting to make sure that my kids have a better start in life than I did as is a “pipe dream” or “wishlist economics” makes them so great. Why I should support your candidates who claim that I need to lower my expectations? Why should I settle for them?
Because you see a D by a name isn’t enough for me. Because it was under the watch of a D that I was merely a forgotten peasant in Camelot. Amy, Mike, Steve, the Johns, the Joes, none of them offer anything that hasn’t been offered before and that’s the problem.
I will not settle.
My kids deserve better. My family and friends deserve better. We all deserve better.
And I will be damned if I let my anyone else suffer by settling for another one of your Camelots.