My aim, frankly, was to get a bunch of stuff off my chest about how politicians handle, mishandle, and squander what could be a real and powerful “disability vote.” Next week, starting Monday, I am going to do something similar here on the blog, aimed at disabled voters and prospective voters.
Disabled people in the U.S. constitute a potentially significant bloc of over 18 million votes ... worth real time and effort for politicians to court. And that's not even counting family, friends, and "allies" who aren't disabled, but may think about disability issues when they vote. We can only fulfill the possibility of real, notable power if we think deliberately about how our experiences and needs relate to politics and policy-making. That means knowing something about how politics work, being familiar with political ideologies, and relating them to the disability experience.
Now, I love politics. It's like a hobby for me. So it’s easy for me, even enjoyable, to think and speak and write about these things. However, most people find politics boring at best, at worst vaguely dirty and definitely disappointing. Whatever you feel about politics though, it does affect your everyday life, even if it isn’t always apparent exactly how.
Over the next week, I’m going to explore some ways that political ideas intersect with our lives as people with disabilities. I hope this will help us engage in politics in a meaningful way. More than that, I hope it will help break down some of the barriers and internal discouragements that tend to make us feel weak, powerless, and needy in the face of “big time” issues and politics. The fact is, we are strong even before we band together … at least as strong as any other constituency you can name. Clarifying a few key issues can, I think, make us a little more confident that we have something to say, and a defensible position from which to say it.
These are definitely going to be my personal opinions, but whether you agree with them or not, I think they all raise important questions disabled people need to consider before voting, especially in the run-up to the next U.S. General Election in November, 2016.