Lately there’s been a lot of talk about right to choose. Politicians thirsty to be elected all claim to support a woman’s right to choose. Can we have a real, honest to God truth conversation about rights to choose? November 8 is quickly approaching. It is a time ripe for asking do we have a real choice about who our leaders will be in state and national government?

I am lead organizer of a grassroots organization, Stop Solitary CT. We focus on eliminating state sanctioned abuse of incarcerated people and building a system that allow people to retain their human dignity while in custody. We would love to have the right to choose candidates who value the lives of incarcerated people and others held in state custody. In Connecticut over 40% are held for months and years before being convicted of anything. Many face lifelong trauma as the result of the inhumanity and degradation of the incarceration experience. Many are as young as 15 years of age.

In the current system our children, poor and incarcerated are invisible to those who have the money to pay their way into the electoral arena. It’s a system of “pay to play” and it doesn’t represent many of us.

A society is judged by the way children and elders are treated. Connecticut’s state of being says a lot about the health of Connecticut society.

Our current top choices in candidates are wealthy, white, suburban businessmen. They are great for business owners yet tone deaf to those struggling to simply survive day to day paycheck to paycheck.

Over the last four years and countless attempts, our organization and others advocating for the well-being of incarcerated people have been unable to garner a seat at the table. Both candidates spend their time catering to police and corrections unions and anyone they believe has the influence to gather “sheep” in our communities to follow their lead.

Due to the structure of the American election process people feel they have no real choice. They simply vote for the “lesser of two evils.” What they may not have given much thought is the fact when voting for the “lesser of two evils” they are choosing evil. It is why life circumstances don’t improve for them.

It’s time for change. To continue to do the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome is how we define insanity. The people’s choice for decades have been and continue to be among a small pool of people who, in effect, maintain America as is for over 400 years.

This is a call to action to our youth to rise up and demand better for generations to come. Many politicians have been in office for decades. Ask yourself, “what have they done for me lately”? For example, voting for millions to fund more and more police.

The worn out narrative about crime and violence appeals to many because they prefer over-policing and mass incarceration of certain communities to maintain an illusion of safety. Poverty and neglect breeds crime and violence. Anyone serious about ending this trend will vote to support our less privileged. They will make sure we all thrive.

Time to actually fight for choice. Change begins with draining the swamp and building a true democracy or we will continue to have what we’ve always had.

Barbara Fair is a coordinator for Stop Solitary