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A Couple's Plan To Vote On Issues Related To Family


The midterm elections are just a few days away, and as Americans head to the polls, many will be thinking about how their votes could affect their communities or their jobs or their families. Family is a big consideration for Victoria (ph) and Matthew Keller (ph) of Denver, Colo., because theirs is growing. The two got married four years ago after they met at work, and they are now expecting their first baby in just a few short weeks.

Do you have a nursery? I'm just curious if you're one of these people who already set up your nursery or you're just going to, like, put your baby in a box.


VICTORIA KELLER: Oh, yeah. But that's all Matt.

MARTIN: Oh, this is Matt?

V. KELLER: This is Matt. He set up our nursery months ago. If it was up to me, he would be in a box.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

M. KELLER: Everything's been way too well-planned. I have like way too much stuff already, and it's all set up and ready to go.

MARTIN: I talked with the Kellers for the last in a series of conversations we're bringing you this week that illustrate how our personal, intimate lived experiences shape how we vote.

Matt, you're originally from Denver, is that right?

M. KELLER: Yes, born and raised.

MARTIN: And, Victoria, where is your family from?

V. KELLER: So I was born in Managua, Nicaragua. And then in 1988, my family immigrated to the Bay Area.

MARTIN: Why did they leave Nicaragua?

V. KELLER: It was in the middle of the civil war. And I think my parents saw the writing on the wall and knew that it wasn't a place that they could really raise children in a safe environment. Both of my parents were working professionals in Nicaragua. My dad was a businessman. My mom was a journalist. And going from being in a country where they were born and raised and they spoke the language to a country where they didn't speak the language, not having a lot of resources and trying to figure out a new society and a new culture was very difficult for them. This is only something that I learned when I was older. My parents were really good at sheltering me and my brother and sister.

MARTIN: Did you feel some kind of pull on your identity? I mean, you hear that from a lot of children of immigrants that they don't feel really American. They don't feel really of their home culture. Was it that way for you?

V. KELLER: It was. I felt like I had, you know, at home, we would speak Spanish. We would eat different foods. We had different cultures. I grew up in a very predominantly white town, so definitely looked a little bit more different than my classmates. And I think that was also something that differentiated me.

MARTIN: Did that sit OK with you?

V. KELLER: No. I was really embarrassed and practically ashamed of being so different. All you want when you're a kid is to fit in. And it was really hard for me when I was younger. But as I got older, I became embarrassed that I had been embarrassed about the way that I grew up and started taking a lot of pride in the fact that I have come from a family of immigrants. And my parents are the quintessential immigrant story. And they were able to build a really good life for me and my brother and sister here.

MARTIN: And you are due in a matter of weeks now right, Victoria?

V. KELLER: November 24.

MARTIN: What kind of conversations have you two had about not just the parenting part but the responsibility of raising a kid in this political moment?

V. KELLER: I think the biggest thing is just people are so unwilling to talk to each other, that we just yell at each other or block each other on social media. And how do you really move on from a moment when people are really unwilling to speak to each other and have difficult conversations?

MARTIN: Let me be clear. Both of you would identify as Democrats or progressives or both.



MARTIN: Do you intend to vote this year?


M. KELLER: Absolutely.

MARTIN: And what's going to motivate your vote?

V. KELLER: Definitely the immigration issue. I don't understand how people can have so much hatred for an entire group of people who are just trying to make a better life for themselves. Just the cruelty we've seen with not just the family detentions at the border, but also policies about revisiting naturalized citizens, punishing immigrants who use public assistance when they need a little bit of help getting back on their feet so they can contribute.

One of the things I'm most concerned about because of my family, my background, especially in light of the Kavanaugh confirmation debacle, I'm definitely concerned about reproductive rights, not just access to abortion services but access to birth control services. Because for me, being a woman, an integral part of my health and my ability to lead the life that I want and that all women can lead the lives that they want is to be in control of our own bodies.

M. KELLER: And just to add on that, I think as sort of an expecting father, one issue that is more in the forefront of my mind at least right now would be gun control, which I'd never really thought about all that much very specifically. But now, it's definitely - for some reason, it seems to be at the back of my mind.

MARTIN: Do you attach expectations to having a baby? I mean, it's - we shouldn't start dreaming for our children's future and living vicariously through them when they are still in utero. But do you find yourselves thinking about what your baby's going to be like, the things that he or she is going to do?

M. KELLER: Nothing specific. I think, you know, expectations would be healthy and be a good person. You know, that's...

MARTIN: That's pretty good.

M. KELLER: ...As of right now I think once, you know, once we get a little further down the road and I see he's good at golf, then I'll start trying some other things.


V. KELLER: I think the same thing, just Hoping that he's stands up for the right thing and is willing to help people who don't have as much as he did. That's really all that I want is just to raise someone who respects people.

MARTIN: You know you're having a boy?

V. KELLER: We are having a boy.


MARTIN: Do you have a name? You want to announce it on National Public Radio?

V. KELLER: Sure. His name is Andrew Enrique (ph).

MARTIN: Aw. Andrew, we await your arrival. Victoria and Matt, thank you so much for talking with us.

M. KELLER: Thank you.

V. KELLER: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAMBERT'S "AS BALLAD") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.