Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sarah Palin Scores for the Disability Community

As I mentioned in an op-ed several months ago, the disability community has been terribly frustrated about how they have been studiously ignored by both major parties in this election cycle.

A big mistake, I think, seeing that people with disabilities are far and away the largest minority and special interest group in America.

Well, last night changed the picture dramatically.

Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin put both her supporters and detractors on notice that people with disabilities would no longer be ignored in civic life.

Palin chose not to genetically discriminate against her unborn Down Syndrome child, Trig.

She chose to show him off (proud mom that she is) along with her other children.

She faced the camera squarely and said what no other politician on either side of the aisle has, so far, been willing or able to say: That all people with disabilities matter, that they will no longer be ignored. That they have a rightful and unmistakable place at the table of civic life.

That they are, before anything else, Americans.


Anonymous said...

I wept as she spoke. It was as if the spirit of Queen Esther walked among us again. Suddenly, I can trust that I have an advocate other than myself.

bluey said...

hey Mark - i was expecting to hear from you today -on this issue --- all the same ---- sure she does have a special needs child - which gives her a personal interest - however she is one person in a party that historically neglects special needs -----------wouldnt it be the democrats that do more for people with disabilities? - i dont know that --- i'm justassuming since in the last little while we have had Republican control -- and -- mind you --- the production of a whole new number of disabled youth --- physically and emotionally --- thanks to their war ------i truly respect your desire to speak out for disabled --- i support that -- but ----now come on -------- dont risk another 4 years of the same --
let's not be encouraged to vote for what we know even tho' it's "broken" - let's not be encouraged to vote based on one of our needs - be it emotional/ physical/ financial -- let's instead think of the world - of all of it's people -- let's think of the planet -- and the future thereof --- let's not make the mistake Safrican whites made for so many wrong years by not voting thee Nats out - and thereby allowing the continuation of Apartheid..........let's be bigger than that..........

Terri said...

I hope this means that we will see a disability platform that includes supporting community-based, rather than institution-based living options, accessibility, etc.

As the parent of a child with Down syndrome, I see there could be great potential if we had a voice at that level. I am not at all certain that 4 months of parenting has given her the perspectives she needs to be the advocate she states she will be.

I need to know how she feels about adults with disabilities and their membership in their communities. I would feel more comfortable then.

Annie said...

Indeed Mark,

Sarah Palin has made an incredible difference for the disability movement just in last night's speech alone. It brought tears to my eyes, because of what she said regarding her son and children with disabilities and in the wildly enthusiastic response she received from the crowd.
We are at a crucial time with genetic terminations right now, as Sequenom, the giant Biotech, has announced that there will soon be a simple (non invasive) prenatal blood test that will definitively diagnose Down Syndrome. (Their stocks skyrocketed)Of course, this is just the first test in a string of many that are being developed.

I wish I lived in the US so that I could campaign for Sarah!


Dr. Mark Mostert said...

Thanks, thanks all, for your interest & comments!!

A few things:

1. Paying lip service is different than hands-on advocacy, I agree, but let's remember that nobody, nobody, on either side of the aisle has even paid lip-service before now. We need to encourage Palin all we can.

2. I think it's a popular misperception that one party or the other has the upper hand in advocating for people with disabilities. The best example of this is just what we're talking about - surely if the Dems (as bluey) notes are the party of disability advocacy, they would have not left the disability community so much in the lurch in this election cycle.

3. I really don't care which party is sensitive/advocates for the disability community - as long as they do. Right now, irrespective of your political persuasion, on the disability advocacy level, it's Republicans 1, Democrats 0.

4. We better all stick together on this issue - I think the time for building critical mass HAS to be about advocating for people with disabilities - not political party, not religion, not ideology, not anything but disability advocacy. If we don't, we'll be so splintered that we will surely fail.

Thanks, all for stopping by. PLEASE keep visiting!!!

bluey said...

remember - she is just old McCain's running mate -- do you really think enough republicans think like her????? then why are you dissatisfied with where things stand - having had them in power?????--

bluey said...

if we dont vote for the planet -- then nothing else matters

william Peace said...

I do not think last night changed a single thing. Of course I could be wrong as only time will tell if Palin really does become a voice for disenfranchised disabled Americans .
I also think that the Democrats have a far superior track record in terms of disability politics when compared to Republicans. This is faint praise because both parties largely ignore disability rights. As Terri notes the potential is present but that would require dramatic changes in Republican thinking. For instance the Republicans do not support community based living and advocate for a nursing home lobbyist driven agenda. One thing I am sure of though is that Palin will learn a whole lot about discrimination in the years to come. Those with Down Syndrome are needlessly stigmatized in this country.

Dreams said...

As the President and Founder of an organization dedicated to creating opportunities and improving the quality of life for youth with disabilities for the last twenty years, I can say without reservation that the election of McCain/ Palin would be an absolute disaster for the advancement of disability rights.

For all the big talk the last few days, the most vital programs for those with disabilities have had funding reduced with careless and heartless conviction and these candidates either supported or voted for those cuts.

This ticket has shown not a shred of promise for change in the policies which have denigrated human rights in historic proportions.

Dr. Mark Mostert said...

Well, dreams, might I suggest that seeing that McCain/Palin aren't in office & haven't done what you claim other administrations have done or not done, that, at the very least, we'd need to judge them by what they do, rather than what we (all of us, pro or con) think they might do?

I guess my perspective is that if others saw disabilities as important as you seem to think they are, why haven't they said anything as affirmative (all caveats accepted) as what Palin has said? The disability blogs have been thick with consternation for almost 2 years about how the disability community has been ignored until this point.

BTW, thanks for stopping by, I appreciate your views.

Angie-Nuvision said...

"She faced the camera squarely and said what no other politician on either side of the aisle has, so far, been willing or able to say: That all people with disabilities matter, that they will no longer be ignored. That they have a rightful and unmistakable place at the table of civic life."

Did she say that? Perhaps I missed that part of her speech.

Please check out this entry from Temple University's disabilities blog. The author makes a powerful point.

Fran Wishnick said...

Sarah Palin must tell us whether she'll support more federal administrative law judges to diminish the social security backlog, more hiring of persons with disabilities, fill the gaps for persons with disabilities who are uninsured or underinsured, etc. We need much more information - let's be informed!