I love politics. I love writing about politics, I love reading about politics and I especially enjoy arguing about politics. Yet I have not set foot inside of a voting booth since 1996 and, until my voice is heard, have no plans of doing so ever again. Why? Because I happen to belong to a large yet wholly ignored voting block-- the non-custodial single father.
Labeled as "deadbeats" by society and treated by government like modern-day plantation slaves, the men of this nation who pay #Child support have been facing a life-or-death crisis for years, and that is no exaggeration: Statistics have shown that the suicide rate among men who pay support is 3-4 times higher than the national average*. I'd love to be able to say that this tragedy has been under-reported by the media, but the sad truth is that no media outlet, mainstream publication or politician will ever address this issue, much less try to fix it.
A grave injustice impacting millions
The reasons for this staggering suicide rate are easy to see if one cares to look: In many states, fathers are required to pay up to 45% of their income in child support. With the current $7.25 per hour federal minimum wage, this means that there are presently millions of men attempting to survive with a job that effectively pays less than $4 per hour. And that's before taxes. This sort of #injustice is unacceptable.
And if you think government assistance is the answer, think again. Applicants aren't permitted to deduct child support payments from their stated income; In many places, this would disqualify you from receiving any government assistance at all, since you apparently earn too much. And, no, you're not even eligible for the Child Tax Credit or the Earned Income Credit.
I have a name, and it's not "defendant"
The second contributing factor to the high suicide rate is the unabated threat of incarceration and the destruction of self-esteem that comes with being treated like, well, a garden variety sexual predator: You are required to report to a caseworker within 24 hours of changing jobs or your address. That's right, even though you've committed no crime other than bringing life into this world, in the eyes of the State you're no better than a child molester.
But the ultimate slap in the face is that no one is fighting for you. Non-custodial fathers are treated like cannon fodder on the battle front of a war that nobody cares about.
In America, we have had a national discussion about same-sex marriage, although just 3.8% of Americans are gay or lesbian. We've had a national discussion about transgender rights, although just 0.3% of Americans are transgendered. We've had a national discussion about police brutality, although just .000003% of us are killed by police each year. We've had a national discussion about marijuana legalization, although just 6.2% of us are users. We've had debates about Confederate flags and gender neutral bathrooms, yet we've never had a national discussion about child support reform, even we comprise 6.4% of the American population*.
On the bright side, that number is expected to decrease, once you take our high suicide rate into account.
Every election year since 1996 I've written letters to candidates at every level of government voicing these concerns. In all, hundreds of letters and emails have been sent, and, to date, zero replies have been received (other than the occasional form letter). This is incredible; you'd think any candidate would love to appeal to such a large and diverse voting block; all races, religions and political ideologies are found within our ranks. In fact, I don't care if you're running as a member of the Prohibition Party or the Communist Party. All you had to do was reply to my letter and not only would I have voted for you, I would've tacked up posters, organized rallies and bent over backwards to get you elected.
But since you didn't give me the time of day, I'm not giving you my vote. #Election 2016