The Giant Still Sleeps
The disability vote remained a sleeping giant this year, as it has in the past. People voted — often overcoming substantial obstacles to doing so — but there was little systemic impact because a voting bloc — a group of people with similar interests who vote similarly — has not emerged. It appears that the “disability vote” was distributed among candidates about like the “nondisability vote.” While Trump’s repeated singling out of people with disabilities for negative attention, and the contrast between the parties’ positions, had seemed to create a moment in which people with disabilities and those who care for and about them might become a more cohesive voting bloc, that did not happen. Rather than becoming swing voters, who reward and punish politicians for words and actions and to whom politicians need to pay attention, people in the disability "community" have tended to vote the way people did in their families of origin. To the extent their political behavior has changed, it has changed because of factors unrelated to disability, including but not limited to racism, fear of religious "others," general desires for "change," and concern about the decline in manufacturing jobs. People affected by disabilities who supported Trump presumably hope that even if he is “tough” on other groups needing government assistance, he will recognize people with disabilities as more deserving or more sympathetic than the rest. Maybe they “believed him” that what he would put in place instead of Obamacare would be “terrific,” and some are relieved that after a sit-down with President Obama he is now talking about maybe amending rather than repealing the Affordable Care Act. While we expect many disability activists will and should pressure whoever is in power, and make compromises to get policy improvements, however narrow and small, we intend to keep trying to influence who controls our government. We intend to act in solidarity with others who are working towards creating a government which is active, humane and competent.
What We Can Expect Now
As of this point, Clinton has won the popular vote, but Trump is on course to win in the Electoral College unless a substantial number of electors exercise their right to cast their vote other than in accordance with the vote in their state. [source] Hard as it was to imagine a Trump victory, the creators of this website tried. Our prediction was and remains that though Trump likes to sound like a populist, he would defer to the now overwhelmingly far-right Republicans in Congress by adopting tax and budget policies that serve the rich and making judicial nominations and bureaucratic appointments that make it far more difficult to enforce civil rights including those of people with disabilities. We expect a Trump victory to make matters worse for people with disabilities — both on “narrow” disability issues like SSI eligibility and special education services, and on issues that affect people with disabilities in distinctive ways because of the nature of their disabilities or the costs associated in dealing with them, such has health care and transportation. We predict that the impact of Trump’s policies will be especially severe for people with disabilities and family members who face discrimination or limited opportunities based on race, national origin, class and location.
What We Are Planning To Do Now
This site is changing its name to electdisabilityadvocates.com. It will track and make action alerts regarding connections between disability issues and electoral politics. We are assuming and hoping that nonprofits to which contributions are tax-deductible and government-funded programs will put out action alerts as to specific policy issues, and we will try to pass those along and generate our own, as needed. Our main focus will be on the activities that did not occur on a large scale this season – making clear fundamental distinctions between candidates on disability issues, and working towards organizing the “disability community“ so that it speaks with a more powerful, unified voice.
What we do or fail to do in the coming months will determine whether the 2018 elections start turning American politics around, or put us into a deeper crisis. Mid-term elections are critical and turnout is usually lower, especially among younger and less affluent voters. The Senate map will be bad for Democrats during the 2018 mid-term elections: more Democrats are up for reelection than Republican. The House remains badly gerrymandered. While it is not going to be easy to turn around this situation, and the impact of Trump’s election on the Supreme Court will last for many years, this election shows how important it is for people concerned about disability issues to monitor officeholders and participate in electoral politics in more coherent, better informed ways. If you are willing to help (a little or a lot), or have suggestions, please fill out the contact form.