Elections are coming up here in the United States and it seems to be an especially heated one. There is much at stake: health care, veteran and disability services… and more. All sides are riled up, memes are flying and the internets are a'buzz.
I asked my friend Melissa, who blogs at Garden of My Heart if she would write a post on voting, politics and disability. I think the pieces that she talks about are the bottom line that we, parents of children with disabilities (and/or people with disabilities in our own right), need to be concerned about – regardless of what party we are voting for.
I am sharing her guest post in lieu of a link to a post of my own. I think I'm in the hospital right now, recovering from a c-section.
Thank you, Melissa.
It’s easy to be discouraged by today’s political climate. It seems like there is a lot of name calling and lying and just a lot of behavior we wouldn’t tolerate from our own children, much less the men and women we elect to represent us. It’s easy to tune it all out, and it’s definitely easy to simply not participate. In such a polarized climate it is more important than ever for genuine voices speaking personal truth to be heard loud and clear by our elected officials.
I challenge you to participate in the upcoming election. There is incredible power in political advocacy, and especially so in disability world where advocacy is a completely bipartisan exercise.
Disability affects each and every one of us. We all have a loved one, a friend, a neighbor, a classmate, a coworker who could fall into this category. It is also the only minority group that anyone could possibly join at any time, and since all of us are aging, even if we do not become part of the disability community, we will benefit from the service system in place for the elderly and those with disabilities. Whether you bleed red or blue or otherwise, disability issues affect us all.
Indeed, the rights demanded by the disability community all cross over into the so-called typical world – they are issues of human dignity, not simply how much we can get for our tax dollar, or how many services we can acquire. Access to safe and reliable transportation? Access to the workforce, equal pay for equal work? A way of approaching job placement that better pairs workers with jobs? Access to quality health care?
These are all things that are a benefit to everyone in our country.
And since these are long-term goals, a bipartisan approach is absolutely essential. Elected officials come and go. They are members of certain committees during one term, in positions of lesser power the next. Perhaps someone you thought was an enemy because they are a member of the “wrong” party has a child with a disability and would actually like to do more for disability advocacy but needs a nudge in the right direction. Or maybe they support these programs already but hearing about an additional angle only bolsters their support. (A good example of this is an elected official who is passionate about veteran issues – there is a lot of overlap with disability issues.)
Everyone is a potential ally in the disability advocacy movement. It doesn’t matter their party affiliation, their personal politics, or really even their voting record. Everyone needs to hear our voices’ and our children’s voices.
At a time when our country feels bitterly divided, it feels good to advocate for something that is a benefit to all.
You don't have to be a policy wonk and you don't have to spend your days at the capital. But we have to participate. We have to pick up the phone, pick up our pens, type out an email. We have to invite them to our homes, to our places of work, to our IEP meetings. We have to challenge them, and question them, and ask them to make good on campaign promises.
And above all, we have to vote
So now that we’ve talked about some of the warm fuzzies of political action, here are some ways to get active:
-Find out about the accessibility of your polling place. Do they have accommodations for voters who need the ballot read aloud? Braille ballots? Polling booths that are low enough for people of different heights to use? (including those who use a wheelchair) Entry ways wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair?
-Do the people you know have the proper id required to vote? Is there something you can do to help someone vote? A ride to the polls, assistance in obtaining id? (Read more about issues faced by adults with disabilities here.)
-Watch this video from the National Forum on Disability Issues to get a better understanding of Romney’s and Obama’s views on disability issues.
-Email, write, call, and tweet candidates at all levels of government. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions and to be persistent in getting real answers. Disability Rights Wisconsin compiled a good list to start with here. (contains Wisconsin specific statistics, but the questions themselves apply nation-wide)
And now! Time for our FINAL October Down syndrome Weekend Blog Hop!
Please select and share either a new post or a favorite past post by adding the direct URL for the post in the linky below.
Blog Hop will be open until Sunday, October 28th, 11:59 Pacific. Blog Hop will be archived on the T21 Alliance and Down syndrome Blog Sites (links below).
For more on what a Blog Hop is, for optional prompts and other information, click HERE
Blog Hop Code:
There will be a link "get code" at the bottom of each blog hop – it would be great to click, copy and paste the code to your own blog. When you do that, you yourself become a host for the Blog Hop. You help share the diversity of expression, thought and belief in our writing community when you include the voices of everyone else in the Hop.
Blog Hop Button:
Share this Hop! The more the merrier! (note: it works in the sidebar, not the main page – but if you have issues, email me)
Other relevant links:
31 for 21 is a daily blogging endeavor to raise awareness about Down syndrome. To participate and/or learn more, please visit 31-for-21 at Big Blueberry Eyes
The National Down syndrome Society has created a Blogger Guide – which includes links to a preferred language guide, resources and lots of suggestions for doing more – and springboarding to greater action. Check it out HERE.
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.