Disability Rights Organizations Express Outrage Over Attacks at McCain-Palin Rally

Note from ST: Here, at last, a national disabled people’s coalition in the US has publicly decried the repeated invocation of the expression “special needs” in the discourse about disabled people that has surrounded the upcoming election.  Disability activists and members of the disability studies movement internationally have long eschewed this expression, arguing that it individualizes and depoliticizes disabled people’s entitlement to social resources and medicalizes their disenfranchisement.  What follows is a recent press release from the US National Coalition for Disability Rights:

ADA Watch.org
National Coalition for Disability Rights
1701 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20006

 October 31, 2008

 Disability Rights Organizations Express Outrage Over Attacks at McCain-Palin Rally


(Washington, DC) The National Coalition for Disability Rights (NCDR) pushed back today against the McCain-Palin campaign for ridiculing the legal rights of people with disabilities. News reports describe McCain-Palin campaign representative Senator  Kit Bond (R-MO), joining Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin at a rally in Rush Limbaugh’s hometown of Cape  Girardeau, Missouri, mocking Presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama for stating that he’s looking to nominate judges who empathize with “disabled.”


“It’s Halloween and it seems that Sarah Palin’s mask of support for people with ‘special needs’ is slipping.  Despite past pandering to people with disabilities, McCain-Palin are actually opposed to vital disability legislation like the Community Choice Act and they want to appoint judges who will further roll back the civil rights protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” declared NCDR’s founder and president, Jim Ward. Continue reading

The US Presidential Candidates’ Disability Policies: Information for Voters

For the benefit of those people (disabled or nondisabled) voting in the upcoming US election and anyone else who may be interested in the policy stances on disability of the various candidates in that election, I am posting a statement that Gail Landsman sent to DS-HUM on behalf of the American organization Disability Rights and Concerns Committee of United University Professions (UUP). 


Whether one is currently disabled, raising a child with a disability, providing care to an elderly relative, or just getting older, most Americans are or will one day be affected by disability.  As there are significant differences in the disability positions and policies of the major presidential tickets, voters need to be informed on these issues of far-reaching importance.

Among the most important pieces of potential legislation for people with disabilities and their family members is the Community Choice Act. This Act would end the institutional bias of our current system (which currently filters about 63% of Medicaid payments toward nursing homes) and provide disabled people and their families the opportunity to choose how and where services would be provided; it would offer states assistance to provide services, including attendant care, in the most integrated setting.  Obama and Biden are co-sponsors of the bill.  McCain opposes the bill.  Continue reading

Longmore on Palin and Obama

The esteemed historian of American history and disability history Paul Longmore has an article in Huffington Post entitled “Palin Talks About Special Needs Children, But Obama Has Substantive Plans for All People with Disabilities.”  Here is an excerpt:

Ever since Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech, there has been a great deal of talk about “special needs” children but little about the issues that concern the 54 million Americans with disabilities of all ages. Pollsters and pundits almost completely ignore the tens of millions of voters in the disability rights constituency—adults with disabilities, family members, and many professionals—but they will play a much larger role in this election than most observers recognize. That makes understanding their issues important.

Palin’s promise to be a “friend and advocate” for the families of children with disabilities has some parents understandably excited. In August, University of North Carolina researchers reported “chilling” rates of “hardship” among both middle class and poor families with disabled children as they struggle “to keep food on the table, a roof over their heads, and to pay for needed health and dental care.” Large numbers of adults with disabilities face the same hardships. 

Read the entire article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-k-longmore/palin-talks-about-special_b_131758.html

What Sorts of Candidates?

In the battle for the American Presidency, the question of “what sorts of people do we want?” needs top be asked of all candidates. Both major parties are reaching out to diverse sub-populations. Both claim to be advocates for people of diverse abilities, sexual orientations, and gender identities as well as all other minorities. However, Biden and Obama appear to go a lot further than McCain based on previous track records.

Obama was a strong advocate for the Matthew Shepard National Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act which would have extended federal protection to people with disabilities as well as gays and lesbians. McCain opposed it. Biden introduced the Crime Victims With Disabilities Act of 2007. Obama pledges to work to get the US to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

McCain and his soon to be announced running mate should be asked what they are prepared to do. Hopefully, they are prepared to make the same commitments.