It isn’t often that I indulge in the excitement that permeates politics but today it is difficult to remove oneself from the tension. Election 2008. The entire nation is churning with the excitement and energy of an election that many call historical. (Just as a quick note – It was pointed out to me by one of our Public Affairs experts that it is usually considered melodramatic to call something “historical” as it is difficult to guage whether something truly is historic or not until well after the fact). But I refuse to let that dampen the mood.
This is it! In an election that has been dynamic and electrifying, where the disability community has, perhaps for the first time been actively courted as a constituency, tonight is the night. This is when wheelchairs will roll up ramps to polling stations, visually impaired voters will have the ability to use electronic voting machines, individuals dexterity issues, individuals developmental disabilities, all of the community, will be speaking out and their votes will be counted. The disability vote will be cast.
For the first time, a candidate had a specific disability platform, for the first time candidates stepped beyond health care and attempted to address other disability issues such as the rampant unemployment and concerns with special education. Although I cringe at the term, “special needs,” for the first time, they are trying to get it right, and for the first time candidates for the Presidency of the United States are listening to the disability community.
They hear what is needed and for the first time are considering that this is a community whose needs should be addressed. Not out of pity, or out of any moral social obligation but because these individuals with disabilities are VOTERS! They are constituents with the power to affect the voting outcome on a national level.
Tonight we will see exactly what a difference it will make.