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COLUMN: Politics is personal: it impacts the everyday lives of real people


“The personal is political” is not a new declaration. It was first popularized in an essay by Carol Hanisch as a slogan for “second-wave feminism” during the late 1960s. 

Politics is personal because it regulates the everyday lives and opportunities of American citizens.

As The Washington Post put it, "It is no coincidence, for example, that the greatest overhaul of the U.S. welfare state, which Clinton signed into law with bipartisan support in 1996, was called the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act."

When Americans attribute the country’s class system to citizens’ personal responsibility, they can seek comfort in blaming the poverty on the poor instead of admitting it stems from the discrimination and injustice of the system. 

However, when economic hardship hit a higher majority of Americans, it was no longer quite so easy, according to NBC, to blame personal responsibility because that meant they were at fault for their own misfortune.

Today, America hears President Trump speak a lot about personal responsibility. However, that wasn't what he was promising during his election campaign. Before he was elected, Trump vowed he would protect jobs, keep out immigrants and terrorists, and according to The Washington Post, he said he’d replace Obamacare with “insurance for everybody.”

Although Trump has managed to impose several policies that seem to hold his promises about immigration and terrorism, they’ve come at a great cost. According to Quartz, America now has “an invisible wall” separating it from other countries. 

While Trump repeatedly complained that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) left too many Americans uncovered, now nearly two years under Trump’s direction, 4 million people have been added to that group, according to The Washington Post.

All of these policies personally affect millions of people. Politics is personal. It affects people's rights, relationships, and livelihood. In fact a 2017 Rasmussen Report says 40 percent of voters think the 2016 election has negatively affected a personal relationship. Although I couldn’t vote in the last election, this holds true for me too.

I have some family members who support President Trump and though I’m not going to disown them, it has definitely affected our relationship. Their support of a clearly sexist and obscene president makes me feel as though they don't value me and other family members the same way I do. I believe in supporting the rights and comfort of all people, especially my family members.

The effect of a president with these offensive views affects me because it means his power could lead to policies and changes that will negatively impact me. It's clear he doesn't respect women's rights. He has criticized women who have reported sexual assault (most recently Christine Blasey Ford, according to Time), degraded women in power such as British PM Theresa May as covered by CNN, objectified women in the way he speaks and his budget attacks women‘s health care, according to National Women’s Law Center (NWLC).

All of these actions challenge my rights as a women. I'm worried that our president is leading our country to a future where I will lose rights my female ancestors fought very hard to get in the first place. Politics affect my rights, and it could be affecting yours too. You can see how by visiting everyvotecounts.org

Our country’s political discussions are currently very personal and very controversial. If you believe politics is just another topic of conversation, chances are you are privileged enough to live in a world where politics don't affect your personal life. If you are, you should use that position to help others who are personally affected by politics, because there's a lot of us.

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