Elizabeth Hess | Left is Right: Liberal about caring

Elizabeth Hess | Left is Right: Liberal about caring


I am often asked, "You don't actually believe the liberal stuff you recite on the radio, do you?" I used to have a more defensive response to that question.

Now, I just say, "Yes, I really do — I don't just spout Democratic talking points to get a rise out of people or for ratings."

The old adage — "If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain" — doesn't make sense to me. As we get older, and have witnessed so many atrocities and hardships on those less fortunate, why don't we care more about other people?

When I was a budding activist as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin, I couldn't understand how people could stand by and watch while people in our own state went hungry, homeless and without health care — three basic necessities many of us take for granted. It wasn't until I took a woman's studies class and learned about life before Roe v. Wade that I realized I had found my issue.

The one non-negotiable issue that would drive every voting decision since then: I will never vote for an elected official who isn't pro-choice.

In September, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 40, which made abortion eligible for coverage under Medicaid as well as the state's employee health insurance plan.

Rauner had to reiterate his stance on this issue. In October, he said, "I personally am pro-choice. I always have been. And I made no qualms about that when I was elected governor."

Rauner may lose the next election over this issue. Members of the Republican Party in Illinois were angry that Rauner had promised to veto the bill, which could see the use of state taxpayer funds to pay for abortions.

His stance on this issue didn't ensure Democratic-leaning voters would reach across the aisle and vote for him next year, but it gave us a small reprieve in a year where it feels women's rights have been under siege.

There are plenty of issues for me to get upset about on a national scale: a tax bill that doesn't benefit the middle class at all; an expensive, unnecessary border wall; and, most crucially, the lack of urgency in reversing the man-made damage we are inflicting on the environment.

But I stay focused on the state of Illinois — a state I have proudly called home for 42 of my 46 years.

Illinois politics are exhausting. While we watch what happens in the Alabama Senate race, we can't point fingers and judge other states on their dysfunction. Not while Govs. George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich overlapped for a time in federal prison.

While Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan gets a lot of vitriol over everything from the state's budgetary woes to tax hikes and higher health care premiums, I breathe a sigh of relief that the state is "run" by a Democrat. As long as Illinois is run by Democrats, I know they are fighting for my right for free or subsidized birth control, my right to obtain an abortion, my right for affordable, yearly mammograms and my right for affordable health care — no matter my income.

So when listeners email me, or stop me on the street to ask me about my belief system, I tell them the same thing. They can call me a "snowflake," or worse, but I take that as a compliment. I don't have millions of dollars to give to charity; I don't have a lot of time to march in rallies. However, when my microphone goes off at 9 a.m. every day, I know I did my part that day in reminding elected officials — and the average listener/voter — that life isn't just about them.

Elizabeth Hess is co-host of "The DWS Morning Show" on NewsTalk 1400 WDWS, a News-Gazette Media radio station. Her email is ehess@wdws.com.

Sections (2):Columns, Opinion

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CommonSenseless wrote on November 27, 2017 at 10:11 am

More vacuous rhetoric from someone who clearly can't distinguish between rights and privileges.

justkerrie2u wrote on November 27, 2017 at 1:11 pm

For your insight, your passion, your voice and your advocacy!

Moxie is always needed.

Keep it up.

johnny wrote on November 28, 2017 at 11:11 pm

Oh my God.

GLG wrote on November 29, 2017 at 7:11 am

WDWS is keeping her and getting rid of Jim Turpin?

You want free birth control, free abortions free everything as long as someone else pays for it.  

Typical liberal praying at the altar of Mike Madigan!  Tell me do you pay any taxes in this state?