Tag Archives: election

Living in Weimar 5: On the Eve …


Living in Weimar 1: On the Brink

Living in Weimar 2: Creative Ferment

Living in Weimar 3: How Bad Can It Get?

Living in Weimar 4: Ideal Bodies

Debbie says:

I haven’t spoken to a single soul today who isn’t in some degree of concern, anxiety, fear, or panic about tomorrow’s U.S. election results. Me, I’m calmer than most. I’d say I’m more optimistic than most, except I’m not willing to jinx anything.

And here’s what I think, very personally. (I’d rather write this with Laurie, but she’s not available; we’re in this together but right now you get just me.)

Basically, tomorrow can go two ways in the United States (and let’s face it, what happens here will affect the entire world):

If it goes one way, we’re in the same fine mess we’re in now, living in the 2016 analog of Weimar, facing an emboldened white-nationalist segment which will have to be contained and dealt with. There will be much to hope for and look forward to, much to fear. As always, the more marginalized you are, the more you have to fear. Much work will remain to be done.

If it goes the other way, it will probably be cataclysmic. The emboldened white nationalists will have the government’s blessing. The reins of power will be handed over to the alt-right, to people with indefensible political, economic, and social beliefs and plans. Everything we rely on will be undermined, destabilized, put at risk.

Even the cataclysm (may it not come to pass!) will not be the end of the world, or even the end of the United States. We can expect for some very dark times. I categorically reject the concept that “heightening the contradictions,” a high-falutin way of saying “making people more miserable” is a defensible or smart way to bring about change.

I don’t have to believe in “heightening the contradictions” to embrace the belief that it is our task to take care of one other. In cataclysm, in despair, in hell, that job becomes far more intense, far more demanding. More of us will have to take it on. No number of us will be enough to protect anywhere near everyone, but each of us can do our part. While 2016 U.S. is not 1930s Weimar, and while no current U.S. presidential candidate is Adolf Hitler, nonetheless the American people may well be called upon to show ourselves on the historical stage, as the German people were in the mid-20th century. Another thing I don’t believe is that the outcome of that test was inevitable.

Although the two paths are so vastly divergent, so starkly in contrast, the task on November 9, when the votes are counted, is the same. We will each have to find our part, do our part, take care of one another, and be gentle with those who need care and unrelenting with those who need to be stopped.

Eve of destruction? Or not? Here’s what to do. Vote. Volunteer. Do something in your community today; it will make you feel better. And breathe.

Me, I’m on my way to staff the Election Protection hotlines (1-866-OURVOTE).

Good luck!

Disabled Children and the Election: Reasons to Believe Obama

Debbie says:

It’s no surprise to readers of any media other than Fox that the Republican candidates are completely unabashed and confident liars; nonetheless, one topic on which they sound like I would agree with them is support for families with disabled children, as prominently featured in the vice-presidential acceptance speech.

Kristina Chew at Autism Vox sees it a little differently. Chew is mostly quoting from other sources, including this one:

When a young governor line-item vetoes six appropriations for community disability services or for accessibility modifications to public accommodations, that governor gives us reason to be skeptical about promises and prospective performance. When the appropriations totaled $749,000 in a state that has a huge budget surplus, … that governor gives us special reason to doubt her commitment to people with special needs.

Yes, state funding for “intensive special needs children” in Alaska increased for Fiscal Year 2010. But it is not yet clear exactly who those children are, how many of them are the intended beneficiaries of the appropriation, and precisely what role the governor had in proposing the appropriation or influencing the legislature to appropriate the funds.

As Chew makes clear, the numbers of increased Alaska funds look gigantic, but they get smaller every time you look more closely at them.

Meanwhile, disability activist Becky Blitch, writing for Salon, has similar concerns:

People with disabilities, their families, and all equality-minded Americans are being mislead about which ticket is truly progressive on disability rights issues.

[Sen. McCain’s] campaign likes to tout that he was one of the cosponsors of the original Americans with Disabilities Act… but so were 62 other senators (each and every one, apparently, a maverick). In truth, Mr. McCain is pretty much silent on the issue of disability. A search of his campaign site turns up a boilerplate “we feel your pain” statement on autism lacking any specific plans. Otherwise, the word “disability” only pops up in relation to veterans.

According to a NY Times article yesterday*, [the governor]’s self-proclaimed advocacy has been a bigger surprise to no one than the Alaskan disability community. But let me be very clear: every voice in this fight is needed, and I applaud [her] for using her office to help families who need it.

With that said, [she] is not nominated for President. Regardless of her passion, any policy proposals she has would rightly come in second to John McCain’s…. We vote for the person at the top of the ticket for a reason: unless something terrible happens, they are the one actually in power. So despite [her] positioning as some kind of champion for civil rights, we must never forget that she’s stumping for a guy who apparently (given the evidence) couldn’t care less.

In contrast, Senator Obama has some real credentials in this area, well researched back in April by Michael Berube. For these purposes, you can skip past the long opening section on Hillary Clinton’s disability policies, which Berube was impressed by … until he read Obama’s. Here are just a few of Obama’s highly specific policies and agendas:

It promises $10 billion in early intervention programs for children with special needs, via Early Head Start, Early Learning Challenge Grants, and IDEA Part C.

It proposes “a comprehensive study of students with disabilities and transition to work and higher education” – something that (a) has never been done and (b) is of great interest to teenagers with disabilities and their loved ones. In recent years I’ve had many fine students at Penn State – twenty-year-olds with dyslexia, or Asperger’s Syndrome, or arthritis, or mild cerebral palsy – request “reasonable accommodation” from me on final exams. And I’ve been amazed and appalled at how few many of my colleagues (here or elsewhere) seem to believe that they’re under no obligation to provide reasonable accommodation for everyone. (Guess what? If you teach in the United States, you have that obligation! It’s a real federal law!) So I’m thinking that “a comprehensive study of students with disabilities and transition to work and higher education” might not be a time-wasting exercise for disabliity-policy wonks. I’m thinking that it might actually make a world of difference for students with disabilities – in high school, in transition, and in college.

It has a subsection devoted to flexible work plans, ranging from an expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act to protection against “caregiver discrimination.” “Workers with family obligations often are discriminated against in the workplace,” it notes. “This is a growing problem, as evidenced by the skyrocketing number of discrimination suits being filed: there has been a 400 percent increase in the number of family responsibility discrimination lawsuits in the last decade.” Again, though, this is of no interest to you unless you know someone with a disability, or know someone who might someday have a disability.

Once again, it comes down to whether you want to believe the emotional appeal with comparatively little backup or the thought-out proposals with deep emotional underpinnings. Right now, the nation seems to be going for surface emotional appeal–which is the main reason you won’t see the Republican VP’s name in this post. She’s getting way too much press and “social media” attention as it is. In the spirit of Body Impolitic’s belief that her personal life is her business, all references to her family have also been deleted.

It comes back to Michael Berube: who to vote for on this topic is of no interest to you unless you have a disability, know someone with a disability, or know someone who might someday have a disability. If that someone doesn’t happy to be from a prominent wealthy white affluent family, it’s even more true.

* The Times article is log-in protected. The link is in Blitch’s article.

Thanks to Janet for the pointers to Blitch and Berube.