Theresa (my mother) is fifty-three years old and the oldest of five children. She is Jackie’s daughter, Patty’s sister, Chris’s wife and Chuck’s Aunt. (These are all other people interviewed on this site.) Theresa was born in Fairbanks Alaska while her father was serving in the Vietnam war. Not long after did they move back to Belmar New Jersey. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Labor and Employment Studies from Rutgers. She is also a proud wife, mother and business partner to her husband. Politically she leans more liberal but is looking to change her voter registration information to say independent. She does not believe in either the Democrat or Republican party, but in what is right her heart and mind. She grew up Catholic and completed all of her sacraments but does not let her religion influence how she votes. “Common sense rules my voting decisions, not religion. I don’t really practice Catholicism now, I believe in spirituality more than religion.”
Growing up Theresa doesn’t recall her parents ever having a serious interest in politics or discussing anything of the nature. She does remember her grandmother being mainly pro-union and believing strongly in the Democratic party. Before the “Pre-Trump era” as Theresa describes, it was easier to talk about politics with others. “Now it depends on the situation. “I have more strained relationships with friends and family the longer Trump is in office. I don’t know how to make a way back after seeing their true colors.” Theresa recalls what she says are the many times she found herself in these uncomfortable conversations. “They yell at me, tell me I’m stupid and that I should watch the news. They say things like ‘fuck those people, let them get a job,’ the irony is the people who are saying it were once on welfare and food-stamps themselves.”
NPR, News 12 NJ, BBC and Euronews. “I listen to NPR because it’s the real stuff that isn’t slanted. BBC and Euronews show me America from an outsider’s perspective. I think something is wrong with American news, they only seem to constantly talk about America and its a little weird. We should be informed more about other countries and cultures.” In total Theresa consumes about eight hours of news a week.
“Other political parties are too quick to choose party over policy. Yes I lean more liberal, but I am thinking of re-registering as an independent. There is too much fighting about what side you’re on.” Theresa has never participated in a protest or march before.
Gun Control “We don’t live in the Wild West, this is a civil society and you follow the rules. You don’t need guns, the second amendment was so you could protect yourself over two-hundred years ago with slow loading muskets and guns. We have armies and police to protect us now, citizens don’t need them. People don’t know how to be responsible.” Government Funded Childcare “Parents should not have to worry about affording childcare services ever. Especially before a child enters the mainstream school system. Parents should not have to pay for before care or after care either. Single income families don’t exist anymore, they are a thing of the past. I was lucky to be a stay at home mother. Look up the mommy tax, its a real thing. Women are constantly having to choose between their jobs and their kids. Women should never be penalized for reproduction.” Equal Pay “It’s ridiculous that women are still paid less than men for equal work. The notion that all women will one day get married and then go on to rely on their husband’s income is extremely outdated. Cost of College “College should be available to everyone for free or at an affordable rate, so everyone can have a chance or opportunity to raise themselves up. Affordable Healthcare “We have a civil society and should not be living as though it is the survival of the fittest. You shouldn’t lose everything because healthcare didn’t cover what you needed, or you couldn’t afford healthcare in the first place.” Renewable Energy “Everyone deserves clean air, water and access to clean parks and outdoor recreation facilities. It just makes sense. We can create more independence as a country by not having to rely on buying foreign oil.” Raising the Minimum Wage “We need to raise the minimum wage to match the cost of living. It was originally established as a living wage and has been neglected to the point of poverty wages.”
Overturning Roe v. Wade “It’s not just about abortion, its about a woman’s right to choose. It trickles down to conversations about access to birth control and planned parenthood. Regardless of what I would do if I were pregnant, overturning Roe v. Wade would change the dynamic of all other services. Taking Money from Social Security “It shouldn’t be used to subsidize the national debt. We spent our whole working lives paying into it.” Rolling Back the Welfare State “Taking away food-stamps, welfare, Affordable Care Act and medicaid is cruel. People suffer circumstances beyond their control, social services are all you can turn to. Why would you get rid of the social safety net? It’s not always your fault if you lose your job, your home or whatever. Some people might game the system, but my own family needed the help. I was nine years old illegally working handing out circulars, my mom had to keep the money so we could survive. I hated being poor.” Death Penalty “Really I’m undecided about that one. It’s not right for me, and what if you’re wrong. There could be proof, someone could be wrongly convicted. Who is really in charge of who lives or dies? What if they just needed Prozac, or rehabilitation services to find out if they can be productive member of society again?”
General Government and Policies
Theresa believes there should be a maximum of five legitimate political parties. “But I also don’t believe in political parties, I guess I just want there to be more than the standard two options. We should just work together as people. As soon as you identify your party people start to develop a bias towards you.” Theresa can envision many women who would make a great fit for president including Kamala Harris, Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren.
“There were times I felt as though I had to lean a certain way politically to fit in, but I don’t let myself give in. I do feel sometimes if I were to speak my mind that I wouldn’t be accepted, but I am okay standing alone with my values.” In terms of dating, it would have to depend if the person is willing to compromise. She is not hesitant to be friends with someone who has different political leanings.
Family dinners and holidays are tense for Theresa who explains there is a lot of extremism. “So much political polarization, it was not like this at all before Donald Trump became president. My relatives constantly see politics as there being one way to do things. I often hear them say things along the lines of ‘we must have guns, everyone must have guns,’ ‘we need to get rid of illegals,’ ‘Get rid of Obamacare its awful.’ The funny thing is some of them use Obamacare.”
With a resounding yes Theresa avoids certain topics around family members. “Anything political. Healthcare, illegal immigrants, the second amendment, renewable energy, welfare and food-stamps. There is so much irony when it comes to the discussion of welfare and food-stamps. My mother had to raise my siblings and I on it. Everyone else in my family knows how poor we grew up, but they have no problem saying to our faces that poor people need to stop schlepping around and sucking off the system.”
When asked “if the government were to propose a new budget plan, what do you believe should get cut first to save tax payer money?” Theresa had many things to say. “No money from our taxes should go to fund campaigns. There needs to be a cap on senator and congress salary, and a cap on pleasure trips that presidents take. I would also reallocate money in the military budget to make sure military members received better pay, healthcare, benefits or whatever it is they needed. I see how military members are treated in this country and they are not treated well.”
There are a quite amount of rights Theresa is concerned with losing or being taken away. “A women’s right to choose, or access to any women’s related healthcare. The right to know about the government or certain transparency efforts. I am only concerned about the free press in this climate. Donald Trump doesn’t like the free press or anything that can be written to go against his word. Everything that doesn’t praise him or his efforts is ‘fake news.'” If these rights were really to come under attack Theresa would plan on forming a coalition of like minded people, lawyers and take her causes up judicially.
Theresa votes in all federal, state and local elections and believes in paying taxes. “Taxes are supposed to go towards the betterment of society. Food, education, infrastructure. What I don’t believe in is taxes going towards campaign funds.” In the 2016 presidential election Theresa voted for Hillary Clinton. Growing up she relied on government assistance programs such as welfare, food-stamps and medicaid for at least ten years as a child.
When looking for a presidential candidate, Theresa has many things to consider. “I need them to have had previous experience with politics, and be well versed in constitutional law. They must be a humanitarian and be able to make difficult choices even if those choices are deemed unpopular. The right thing is often the most difficult thing. The president can’t be a money worshiper either, I want someone from a humble background who understands the plight of poor people and minorities. Someone who shows their tax returns.”
Theresa helps run a small business alongside her husband, she explains that there have been recent policy changes in tax codes that have affected them. “They changed tax codes for small businesses and now we pay more taxes. I don’t believe that is fair for small businesses at all. Bigger companies like Amazon don’t pay taxes, and they can surely afford to be taxed. I also worry about the policy being reversed of allowing kids to stay on their parents healthcare until they are twenty-six, or rolling back the pre-existing conditions clause.”