The Huron Valley Rose: What do you do? How’d you come to live in the area?
Lisa Leininger: I’m an administrator at a hospital. I moved to Ann Arbor from Southern California (Orange County) almost three years ago. I’m originally from Indiana and wanted to get back to the Midwest. My sister and her family live here and Ann Arbor seemed like a good fit. I felt fortunate to get a job at the hospital and have had good opportunities there.
HVR: How would you describe your politics? Who or what has had an influence on this aspect of your life?
LL: I’ve been pretty liberal my whole life. A lot of that comes from values from my parents. I’ve definitely moved more and more left over the past year. Starting to listen to and read more leftist media, like Chapo Trap House and Jacobin, has been a big part of that.
I think one of the things that has changed the most is seeing the system as fundamentally good but in need of fixing vs. seeing the system as inherently bad and in need of change completely—sort of moving away from Clintonian incrementalism to more of a Sanders revolution, anti-capitalist way of thinking.
A lot of the anti-capitalism fit with things I already do and care about for environmental reasons, such as not buying crap for the sake of buying crap, repairing stuff rather than throwing it away and buying new, avoiding single use disposable goods (especially plastic), driving as little as possible. Throw Medicare for All in there, and it all seemed to make more sense. Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t know that my fundamental beliefs have changed as much as I’ve changed with whom and what I identify and how change is possible.
HVR: Are there any specific issues or occurrences that have contributed to your shift away from seeing capitalism as something simply in need of reform?
LL: It’s hard to say that there was anything specific that happened but it’s been a process that has gone along with opening up to different perspectives over the past year and a half. To add to my previous question, when I talked about being aware of my own consumption, it has also become increasingly clear that what any one individual does in that regard only goes so far. I think it does matter in a small way what I or any other individual does, but what’s even more important is for change at a systems level—me walking instead of driving a mile makes a tiny difference compared to regulations that force companies to clean up their emissions so we all have cleaner air to breathe. The fact that for some companies, their profits are dependent on polluting the air and water is really gross. I know that the military is one of the biggest polluters so that’s a whole other issue. Anyway, these aren’t new beliefs, but I think what’s changed for me is seeing that another way is possible and wanting to fight for it.
HVR: Has your experience at your job in the health care industry contributed to your views on the issue like Medicare for All?
LL: I don’t know that my own work in health care has contributed to my views on Medicare for All but I’ve had my own bad experiences with insurance companies, including not being able to get insurance before the Affordable Care Act, and I know that dealing with insurance companies sucks up a lot of time and resources from providers when they should be focused on patient care. But health insurance is another example where it’s just really messed up how insurance companies make a profit: by collecting increasingly higher premiums then denying claims. And the fact that someone’s ability to get good insurance depends on whether and where he/she is employed is nuts. It’s become more and more evident that the solution should not be to “fix” Obamacare but to completely change the system. And by the way, if we had Medicare for All, maybe the government would be more inclined to make companies and the military clean up after themselves so people don’t get sick. It’s all tied together.