December 31, 2013 at 11:00 am EST | by Peter Rosenstein
To health, happiness and more Democrats
Democratic Party, Democratic National Convention, DNC, Charlotte, North Carolina, gay news, Washington Blade

2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

I hope everyone had a great holiday season and “I wish you and your family a very happy and healthy 2014.” Such is the greeting from most holiday cards.

When I hear those words from friends they mean something. But take a moment to think about what you mean when you wish someone “health and happiness” and whether you can help make those things a reality.

We know what it means to be healthy but what it takes to make someone happy is different for each of us. When I wish someone good health to me it includes supporting the Affordable Care Act since that will give everyone an opportunity to stay healthy. We should all have access to quality healthcare. Thankfully most of my friends are lucky enough to have good jobs and insurance and think nothing of asking for a flu shot when they get their annual physical. Their doctor orders tests to check cholesterol, blood sugar, maybe a PSA or Pap smear, and a myriad of other blood counts to assure their health is good and being monitored to find out early if there are indications of an illness.

We know that not everyone today has that chance. Before the Affordable Care Act, I had friends whose kids had no insurance because they lost it after graduating college. They had no job and couldn’t afford insurance. Now they can go back on their parents’ policy until they are 26. Detecting cancer at an early stage makes the chances for a positive prognosis so much greater. But a friend diagnosed with breast cancer lost her insurance and before the Affordable Care Act couldn’t find a new policy and certainly not one she could afford. So when I wish friends good health it’s a wish for everyone and by supporting the Affordable Care Act I feel I am actually doing something to make that a reality.

Happiness is another thing. What makes me happy is likely very different from what makes you happy. For some it may be getting a new puppy (not me as I am allergic). It could be a trip to Europe or a new car. For many of my friends it’s a new home or some other purchase, or even welcoming a new baby into their lives. In 17 states and D.C. it can be getting married as a same-sex couple. But it’s important that we remember that for some, happiness may be having enough money to pay the rent each month; or pay for their prescription drugs. Happiness for some could be keeping their job, finding a new job, or Congress extending unemployment insurance benefits.

For 12 million people in our country it’s not being threatened, or having your mother, father or child threatened, with deportation. It could be having confidence that your grandmother will receive an increase in her Social Security check allowing her to pay for food and rent. Happiness for some families is knowing that your partner, husband, wife or child will come home from Afghanistan this year, safe and sound, and won’t be deployed into harm’s way again. For a veteran it might be not having to wait months to get an appointment with your VA councilor or getting benefits to continue their education.

Many of the things that enable us to continue to stay healthy and achieve our own happiness do depend on government policy. I realize that many think we shouldn’t need to depend on government and that everything should be provided by the private sector or our religious institutions. Unfortunately that just isn’t the case today. So when I say let 2014 bring health, happiness and more Democrats it is because the philosophy of the Democratic Party is more in line with having government provide people with what they need when they just can’t make it on their own. It is passing decent immigration policy; a safety net for those in need including extended unemployment insurance for those out of work. It is food stamps needed even if you have a job but one that pays so little that you can’t afford to feed your kids. It is raising the minimum wage. It is government ensuring that everyone can have health insurance and that when you are older you will have a guarantee of the minimum assistance needed allowing you to stay in your home and buy food and medicine.

Until the Republican Party is once again led by more moderate and rational individuals I will continue to add to my New Year’s wishes for friends and the country that we elect more Democrats.

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