Imagine if a century and a half ago, Susan B Anthony sat silent, watching as women endured the injustices of inequality, of being treated as less than human.
Imagine, if half a century ago Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sat silent, watching as African Americans endured the injustices of inequality, of being treated as less than human.
Imagine, if a quarter of a century ago Justin Dart sat silent, watching as people with disabilities endured the injustices of inequality, of being treated as less than human.
I shudder at the thought.
Of course, our country is far from perfect. While on the surface we tout a mantra of equality and the land of opportunities, as an ally in the disability rights movement, I am reminded everyday how very far we have to go. Everyday I see my friends with disabilities struggle to grasp the “opportunities” that are dangled in front of them, shrouded in inaccessibility, in underfunding, in misunderstanding, in fear, in apathy…the list could go on.
People with disabilities continue to face an inordinate number of systemic inadequacies and are forced into poverty more than any other group. Yet, people with disabilities continue to sit elections out at higher levels than their non-disabled peers. Silence, as people who know nothing about disability make decisions that impact their daily lives. Silence, as public officials gut special education programs, cut funding to vocational rehabilitation, dismantle long-term care services… again, the list could go on.
I get it, this election has been excruciating to watch. It’s about as cliché and underhanded as it gets. Even I had a fleeting thought of sitting this one out. But then reality hit me square in the face! This, where we are right now, is the culmination of years of our own apathy. It’s the direct result of us sitting out one too many elections, of us sitting silently as a body of officials grossly unrepresentative of America makes decisions for us.
If we can’t be bothered with casting a ballot, how can we possibly be shocked at the current state of our political landscape? How can we possibly be shocked that people with disabilities continue to be reduced to a state of mediocrity?
There is no more room for shock or dismay, there is only an opportunity to act. Now is that time! We not only have the opportunity to select the next President of the United States, but we also have the privilege of choosing a myriad of state and local public officials. And make no mistake, it is in deed a privilege. You live in a country that grants you, as a citizen with a disability, the privilege of democracy. (Google North Korea elections and you’ll get the drift.)
I implore you to vote. I implore you to round up your friends and encourage them to vote.
If you have never voted before, or recently moved and need to register, next week Tuesday, September 27th is National Voter Registration Day. Online registration is available via this website.
If you need more information on the voting process or on the candidates, visit Project Vote Smart
If you believe strongly in a particular candidate, join their campaign.
It’s time we show this country what we’re made of! It’s time we demand a place at the political table. It starts with your vote.
If you are a citizen with a disability and believe in the power of democracy, please share this post. For more inspiration, check out our archived post Nothing About Us Without Us