I've been on the verge of blogging for months - composing in my mind, but somehow never quite putting fingers to keys. So I'm just going to dive in...
I read this blog post today about something a tea party leader said and even though Wordbones had already blogged about a more local incident of renters and social injustice, this Judson Phillips guy, just set me off. On a Tea Party Nation radio show he said:
"The Founding Fathers originally said, they put certain restrictions on who gets the right to vote. It wasn’t you were just a citizen and you got to vote. Some of the restrictions, you know, you obviously would not think about today. But one of those was you had to be a property owner. And that makes a lot of sense, because if you’re a property owner you actually have a vested stake in the community. If you’re not a property owner, you know, I’m sorry but property owners have a little bit more of a vested interest in the community than non-property owners."
I am not a property owner. I'm nearly 39 and my husband is 46 - neither of us has ever owned a chunk of land. When I type it out, it sounds sort of pathetic, but we have our reasons. We were living in cities temporarily because of school or a post doc, then we moved to San Diego where a 400 square foot condo in a bad neighborhood could cost you upwards of $200K. We had a baby and decided that it was more important for me to stay at home to raise her than to own a home.
After we moved to Maryland we really wanted to buy, but were outbid on 2 separate townhouses. We found a townhouse to rent so we could get out of the terrible apartment we'd been renting in the interim. We started laying down roots, we had another baby, our oldest started kindergarten, we got involved with the school and our neighbors, we had a third daughter. So now we have three children to feed and cloth, we have ballet and jazz and tap and preschool to pay for, and we still only have one income. Because we've made the choice for me to be at home, we have to make sacrifices including not buying a home.
We could possibly afford to buy now, but it would likely have to be a condo (which would probably be smaller than our townhouse) and it probably wouldn't be in our school district. So, for now, we continue to rent.
I find it so humorous that someone like Judson Phillips could accuse me of not being invested enough in my community to vote. That someone like me shouldn't have the right to participate in my government. I think we've made some pretty sound financial decisions - perhaps on the conservative side - but at least we aren't consumed by the debt of a mortgage we can't afford.
I admit, we are "dream" renters. We have been in the same place for five and a half years, we pay our rent on time, we haven't destroyed the property, we are neighborly and keep our yard neat. Not everyone is like us, but does that mean your right to vote should be taken away because you can't afford to buy a house?