We’re deep into campaign season and, more than likely, everyone has already picked their side to stand on. Whether you’re siding with a democratic or republican candidate, their stance on people with disabilities and programs for those people should be an important aspect to consider. While the differences among each candidate and each side couldn’t differ more, there are a few common themes regarding social security for disabled Americans as well as other programs set up to assist those in need. The way that you decide on your candidate will depend on many personal factors that we won’t get into, but here is a basic checklist to go from to see which side of disability your candidate stands on.
There’s more than one way to view disability, and the most common is Social Security which is the topic that a lot of candidates affix themselves to. Make sure that a candidate is educated about the difference between the medical and social approaches to disability. The medical model focuses on treatment, therapy, and rehabilitation to correct the impairments of disability. The social model emphasizes policies and practices that can make life better for disabled people regardless of whether their conditions can or will improve. While disabled people overall subscribe to a wide range of ideas about disability, disability activists tend to live in the social model.
These approaches to disability call for very different policy discussions, so it’s important to pay attention to the differences we’ve just discussed. If the candidate addresses disability activists about ways to help people leave institutions, or enable disabled people to earn more money without losing benefits, the align with the social aspect. If they speak about taking more money to put into medical research, they will be more in line with the medical aspect. Either way, your position is a personally influenced choice.
Look to candidates who can address the disabled community as well as their families, but not in the same manner. Families of disabled people share many of the same concerns, but parents, spouses, and adult children of disabled people tend to have different perceptions of disability and disability policy than disabled people themselves. Broadly speaking, families place a higher priority on safety, security, and stability for their loved ones with disabilities. While disabled people themselves are more likely to prioritize equal access, opportunity, and control over the services and resources that support their independence. Make sure the candidate addresses the topic that’s important to you, but also consider the lives of other disabled people as well so that the disabled community can grow in a positive direction.
Lastly, I’m sure we’re all aware that candidates in the past have throw a blanket statement out there similar to I stand behind the disabled people of this country, I support the disabled, and etc. etc. etc. As we all know, that means nothing. Make sure that the candidate you’re going to support isn’t just throwing blanket statements around. Look to see if they’re addressing specific issues and ones that are important to you. It doesn’t take a candidate much to say that they support something, but if they have the ability to speak soundly on an issue that is relevant to the disabled community, it may be worth a listen.
Again, this is in no way a way of telling anyone who they should vote for. Take your time deciding who is worth your vote. Understand each candidate’s stance on issues facing the disabled community as well as the families of the disabled community. Make sure that a candidate you’re considering can actually speak on a topic instead of just tossing around statements and “winging it.” Your vote is just as important as anyone else’s, so make your voice hear, practice your civic duty, and get out there and vote for someone you truly believe in.