Friday, August 29, 2008

The Palin Pick.

The announcement of John McCain's VP pick has barely been circulated, and already the 'net is abuzz; Alaska's Republican governor Sarah Palin will grace the ticket.

Palin has five children, the youngest of whom has Down Syndrome. I find it disturbing that some members of the Democratic camp are seizing on the opportunity to point out a perceived contradiction in values, wherein Palin is slated to spend the next two months campaigning while she has an infant with special needs at home. I think on the issue of her values, this is the wrong approach to take.

Every child with Down Syndrome is different; their "special" needs are broad and varied. As the mother of a child with Down's, I realized in my son's infancy that caring for him was not terribly unlike caring for my other children. I was no martyr, I was not his desperate servant. I was his Mom.

If, as a party, we want to highlight any contradiction in "values" inherent in Palin's circumstances and convictions, we ought to focus on the fact that the Governor's party undermines the causes that are of most concern to the Down Syndrome and disabled communities. American health care, education, and equal opportunities for those with disabilities all suffer under Republican leadership. Parents struggle to pay medical bills for specialists, fight to obtain services their children need for successful mainstreaming in the classroom, and desire most profoundly that their children be embraced by society, rather than tolerated by it.

Anti-choice values hold that all life is precious, but here again we see the Pro-Life Republican modus operandi of revering life inside, but not beyond, the womb. Palin's party sees an individual life as a flower that must be allowed to take root and bloom. Democrats realize that for this flower to bloom, we must nurture it from a seedling, prune it as it ages, and expend the energy it takes to water, feed, and care for it. Some plants require special soil. Some demand particular nutrients. Some must be supported and trained to climb toward the sun. None that exist can be neglected, and no blanket solution will enable every plant to thrive.

In truth, no person or political figure can justly be called "compassionate" or "pro-life" while seeking to further policies that are antithetical to the idea that:

"The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped. "

(Hubert H. Humphrey)


Anonymous said...

"To the families of special needs -- to the families of special needs children all across this country, I have a message for you. For years, you've sought to make America a more welcoming place for your sons and daughters.

And I pledge to you that if we're elected, you will have a friend and advocate in the White House."

-- Sarah Palin

Good luck getting that kind of pledge of support and empathy from the people who would make seeing a specialist next to impossible (see Canadian health system for a socialized medicine example).

Lara said...

Author of the ADA Act of 1990:
Tom Harkin (D).

Kennedy (D)
Simon (D)
Leahy (D)
Inouye (D)
Cranston (D)
Mitchell (D)
Gore (D)
Riegl (D)
Pell (D)
Adams (D)
Metzenbaum (D)
Wirth (D)
Conrad (D)
Moynihan (D)
Sarbanes (D)
Heinz (R)
Shelby (D)
Wirth (D)
Durenberger (R)
Jeffords (R)
McCain (R)
Chafee (R)
Stevens (R)
Cohen (R)
Packwood (R)
Graham (D)
Dodd (D)
Mikulski (D)
Matsunaga (D)
Bingaman (D)
Burdick (D)
Levin (D)
Lieberman (D)
Kerry (D)
Boschwitz (R)
Glenn (D)
Pressler (R)
Sanford (D)
Wilson (R)
Sasser (D)
Dixon (D)
Kerrey (D)
Fowler (D)
Rockefeller (D)
Biden (D)
Bentsen (D)
Specter (R)
DeConcini (D)
Kohl (D)
Lautenberg (D)
D'Amato (R)
Dole (R)
Hatch (R)
Pryor (D)
Warner (R)
Bradley (D)
Boren (D)
Murkowski (R)
Daschle (D)
Rudman (R)
Hatfield (R)
Nunn (D)

Forty-four Democrats sponsored one of the most important pieces of legislation to affect the disabled community. Less than twenty Republicans did so.

Palin's words ring hollow in light of the history of her party's approach to dealing with issues affecting people with disabilities. We want progressive action, not a "pledge" of pretty words.

Anonymous said...

From the Associated Press:

Republican presidential candidate John McCain told disability advocates in July 2008 that he intends to support a proposal to strengthen protections for people with disabilities under the ADA.

“We must clarify the definition of a disability to assure full protection for those the law is intended to serve,” said McCain, speaking by satellite to a national disabilities forum in Columbus, Ohio, on the 18th anniversary of the signing of the ADA.

Since the passage of the landmark civil rights law, the Supreme Court has generally exempted from the law’s protection people with partial physical disabilities, as well as people with physical impairments that can be mitigated with medication or adaptive devices.

McCain said blame for the narrowed scope of the law shouldn’t be placed on the Supreme Court, but rather on Congress. “In all due respect, I would put the blame right back on us for not writing legislation that is strong enough and specific enough so that the Supreme Court wouldn’t even have to consider these cases,” McCain said.

McCain was among the sponsors of the 1990 law.

The House last month passed the ADA Amendments Act. McCain said he intends to support a similar bill in the Senate.

Barack Obama was returning from a European trip and so did not participate in the forum, but has said he supports the bill.