When your government stops caringBy Sehar Ezez | 10/07/2015 8:19am
Some may say our government never cared. Some may believe that the decline of the duty to the citizen in our government body has been a slow and steady one. But nonetheless, our Alabama governing body has stopped caring about its citizens.
Last month, our State Senate voted to remove over $100 million from the education budget to fix a state-wide budget crisis that our state leaders brought upon themselves due to negligence. They made this choice, risking the future of our children at a time where we must invest heavily in their success. Our state leaders refuse to work with the federal government to implement the Affordable Care Act in a more reasonable manner, despite the fact that the shortages of Medicare and Medicaid funds create a burden on Alabama’s physicians. For every 100,000 residents in the state, there are only 170 physicians on hand, and even worse only 22 medical students per 100,000 residents. Combined with the fact that our life expectancy is the third lowest, and we’re one of the highest risk states for diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Last week, Governor Bentley announced the closure of over 30 DMV offices, numerous state parks and other facilities. Not only did these closures result in hardships for citizens in a state that already ranks 50 in job growth, but highlights a dangerous and concerning trend. Alabama happens to be a state that seems very concerned about Voter Fraud, so concerned in fact, that all voters are required to present a valid ID in order to vote. Not only has our government presented a challenge to those wanting to vote by passing this law, but the closing of over 30 DMV offices in predominantly African American counties shows a pattern of intentional hindrance to the democratic process.
The elephant in the room regarding these issues is inevitably one of race, in that all of these issues, namely education, healthcare and voting rights, are ones that affect American Americans and other minorities. Under normal circumstances, it would be safe to argue that our Alabama government just simply does not care about its minorities. But decisions that deny education and healthcare and voting rights have broader implications than they seem to realize and affect groups of all socioeconomic standings no matter what race they may be. When you deny one group the opportunity to advance in society by hindering their road to success that is guaranteed to them as citizens of this country, you are also denying the state as a whole the opportunity to overcome its stereotypes of racism and discrimination. You are denying the young children of this state the security of a better future and a society that can stand together and overcome its challenges. You are denying this state the opportunity to show its strengths by reducing the average citizen to an existence that centers around struggling to put a roof over their head and food on the plate.
So as citizens, no matter what our race, socioeconomic or political standing we may have, we must realize that our government has ceased to care about us. They have stopped caring about us because they continually strip us off necessities that we work hard and pay taxes towards, in order to fix irresponsible budget decisions. We as citizens must hold them accountable. We must all demand better from our leaders, because we are the ones who vote for them. It’s with our tax money that they receive their salaries, and it’s with our tax money that they gamble with in the state capitol. They are elected to serve us, not to sit and listen to us beg them to allocate funds correctly and plead not to strip our citizens from their ability to vote. The roles have reversed and we must work hard to either make them care, or replace them with leaders who do.
Sehar Ezez is a senior majoring in history. Her column runs biweekly.