Disabled People Are the Achilles Heel of US Political Elites

Author: Pavel Kuljuk - Contact: Contact Details
Published: 2023/09/02 - Updated: 2024/03/26
Publication Type: Opinion Piece, Editorial
Contents: Summary - Main - Related Publications

Synopsis: Politicians need to pay attention to political rights of people with disabilities and disabled people need to be given equal rights to be elected to office. Disabled people make up almost a sixth of the US voters. Such a large proportion of potential voters can create a third force in the elections. Disabled people make up 15.7% of the country's adult population. However, persons with disabilities occupy only 10.3% of all elected positions.

Main Digest

Disabled people have equal opportunities with other groups of the population when voting. But disabled people do not have equal opportunities with the rest of the population when elected to elective office. If this category of people receives equal opportunities with the rest of the population for election to elective office, then the US two-party system will cease to exist.

World Politics Is Not Fair to People With Disabilities

US law provides that disabled people have enough opportunities to vote, but not enough opportunities to be elected to elective office. The United States has the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984 to promote voting for the disabled. But there is no law to promote the election of persons with disabilities to elective office.

This attitude towards people with disabilities is noted in all countries. Politicians encourage people with disabilities to vote, but do not create support for people with disabilities to run for elected office. Changing attitudes towards people with disabilities can be very dangerous. Indeed, in all countries, the existing political systems were formed in conditions of unfair relationship with the disabled. People with disabilities should support other people's decisions, but should not make decisions themselves. If people with disabilities receive equal opportunities with ordinary people, they will change the political landscape of all states due to their large number and solidarity.

The example of Great Britain proves that this will easily happen. The authorities of this country turned out to be almost the only ones who created equal rights for people with disabilities with other groups of the population when elected to elective office. The British government has identified problems that prevent people with disabilities from being elected to elected office. (1) Then, the government solved these problems. This includes grants of up to £40,000. (2) As a result, almost half of the disabled who received support won the elections! (3) 50% to 50% is already serious competition.

This is the only serious explanation for the fact that in the US for almost 40 years there has been a law that encourages people with physical disabilities to vote. But for some reason, during the same time, no law was adopted that supported the election of such people to elective office.

Disabled people make up almost a sixth of the US voters. Such a large proportion of potential voters can create a third force in the elections. That is, disabled people can create their own party. Political Party of the Disabled can win the election. But the result of this party will be so significant that the other two political parties will have to conclude alliances with the disabled. And this is not beneficial to Republicans and Democrats. The two-party system will end! And this will change the rules of the game and call into question the future of the current political elites.

But is it really that bad? The situation in the country is very tense. The first assault on the Capitol has already taken place. The civil war does not seem like a fantasy. In the current situation, the emergence of a third force can be a lifesaver. The Party of the Invalids can become a kind of trite judge in the battles of the Republicans and Democrats.

However, the current US legislation leaves little hope that the disabled will become a separate political force. Without the political will of at least one of the two dominant parties, this is not possible. But Republicans and Democrats are not interested in sharing power.

In impotence, one can only state the situation in which disabled people in the United States find themselves.

Disabled People Do Not Need Privileges but Equality!

Disabled people make up 15.7% of the country's adult population. However, persons with disabilities occupy only 10.3% of all elected positions. This is 5.4% less than their share in the total adult population. At the same time, at the state and federal levels, people with disabilities hold only 6.9% and 6.3% of elected positions. That is two times less than the total proportion of people with disabilities in the US population. Overall, people with disabilities hold 3,793 of the 36,779 elected positions in the United States. (4)

The most influential of these are Greg Abbot serving as Texas governor, Brian Birdwell, James Langevin, Dan Crenshaw, and Tammy Duckworth serve in Congress.

But despite this, the disproportionate representation of persons with disabilities in elected office is evident. This is most pronounced in the highest echelons of power.

This is not surprising given the absence of a law allowing disabled people to have equal opportunities with non-disabled people in elective office. Unfair competition reduces the effectiveness of politicians with disabilities.

Representatives of the disabled believe that they are under-represented in elected office. These people suggest that one of the reasons for what is happening may be discrimination.

"We also know that people with disabilities are not equally represented in legislative bodies. We certainly would love to see more people with disabilities in office. I can't pinpoint a specific reason for the lack of representation for people with disabilities in elected government roles, but I do know there may be a lot of different reasons that may affect it. One reason may be discrimination", said Jeff Peters Director of Communications Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York (CIDNY).

He also says:

"We also know that people with disabilities are not equally represented in legislative bodies. We certainly would love to see more people with disabilities in office."

Disabled people want equality. To do this, the federal authorities need to increase the opportunities for people with disabilities. These possibilities should be increased to the level of the rest of the US population. No more!

But the paradox is that the current US law regards the granting of privileges any group of the population as discrimination against other groups of the population. Therefore, the allocation of some group of citizens to provide them with support is not allowed by law.

But people with disabilities initially have fewer opportunities than the rest of the US population. Federal authorities recognized this by passing the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984.

Based on this law, support for the disabled is not about creating benefits for them. This is just an equalization of opportunities for the disabled and the rest of the population! Therefore, this is not discrimination against other groups of the population. This is only equalization of opportunities for the disabled and other groups of the population.

Following this logic, it is necessary to finish the job and adopt a second law that creates equal conditions for disabled people with the rest of the population when elected to elective office. If one of the politicians prefers honesty to political expediency, then a lot of work awaits him. Towards a law that supports the election of persons with disabilities to elective office there are many obstacles. Political consultants told about it. (5)

What Prevents the Equalization of the Rights of People With Disabilities

A political initiative is needed to improve the situation. This initiative must be based on proven facts. For example, existing barriers or discrimination against people with disabilities. But be that as it may, the basis for a political initiative must be legally justified. For example, a voiced opinion about discrimination against persons with disabilities must be proven in court.

"No, I don't see it. There is a difference between barriers to entry and discrimination. You would have to prove that our election laws are actually discriminatory before anyone would entertain such an idea",- said Elaina Bedio Owner, Principal Consultant.

But this is not the only problem that needs to be solved. The current situation is protected by the US constitution. That is, in order to pass a law, it will be necessary to win proceedings in the Supreme Court or change the 14th amendment to the Constitution.

"If there was legislation that did pass, I think that it would be challenged in court as potentially violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, similarly to what happened to Affirmative Action",- comments Alyssa N. Batchelor, M.S. Principal Strategist Hill & State Strategies.

It is supported by Dan Hazelwood, Founder and Creative Director of Targeted Creative Communications, Inc. He said: "The probability of a federal law that advantages any group in election politics is exactly zero under the U.S. Constitution".

There are also organizational and bureaucratic problems. The war with the army of officials is a harsh reality for those who want to pass the law.

"I think the likelihood of promoting the election of people with disabilities is remote, at least the passing of this into law. Unlike drawing legislative districts to promote the election of minorities, drawing districts to promote the election of the disabled would be next to impossible as the disabled are spread out throughout our country and they live in all sorts of socioeconomic areas", said Willis Jones CEO and Founder, Capitol City Research.

Various laws prevent changes. And that means a lot of lawyers have to adapt a lot of the legislation.

"Satisfying such a law would require measuring and monitoring how many people with disabilities are currently in office and you cannot require people to divulge health information as that is a HIPAA violation?", said Elaina Bedio Owner, Principal Consultant.

In addition, experts believe that the disproportionate presence of people with disabilities is not the main problem. Priority must be given to other decisions or to play by the existing rules. And this means it will be necessary to work with public opinion. US citizens will need to be convinced of the need to support the disabled. A lobby is needed to pass a law.

"It would be much better if we made reforms to our current system. The average person, "able-bodied" or not, can't afford to run for office. It costs millions to mount a campaign. And that is the biggest problem. As long as we have a system where only the fabulously wealthy, or those able to attract big donors, can run for office, we won't get a diverse group of representatives in congress or anywhere else. Encouraging folks with disabilities is wonderful", said Donna Halper Assoc. The Professor of Media & Communication, Lesley University, Cambridge MA .

"Successful elections in the United States rely on a defined set of skills that include communicating with targeted segments of the electorate and urging citizens to vote on Election Day. They also necessitate the ability to raise a considerable amount of money. It's highly unlikely that any government entity (federal, state or local) could design legislation to facilitate the election of people with disabilities or any other group, for that matter. While we need diversity in the men and women who represent us at all levels of government, thankfully, we don't have "carve outs" for one group or another", said Matt Klink Klink Owner & President Campaigns, Inc.

What Is the Result

Let's be frank. Support for persons with disabilities who are elected to elective office is gaining popularity around the world. The UK is not the only, although the most striking, example. Canada has tax credits for disabled politicians. (6) In the EU, information is being studied and consulting work is carried out in this area. (7) In the international format, the political rights of persons with disabilities to be elected to elected office are enshrined in a special convention. (8)

There is no such activity at the federal level in the USA! Although at the local level, many are ready to support such initiatives. For example, there are supporters of such changes in the New York State Assembly.

"I support any law that make voting easier and accessible for people with disabilities for sure", said Assembly Member Harvey Epstein.

Sooner or later, American politicians will have to pay attention to the political rights of people with disabilities. This means that disabled people will have to be given not only equal the right to vote but also to be elected to elected office. Better to do it first in the world. This will create inconvenience for politicians, but will be useful for the US. Isn't this the main goal of American politicians?

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Cite This Page (APA): Pavel Kuljuk. (2023, September 2). Disabled People Are the Achilles Heel of US Political Elites. Disabled World. Retrieved April 16, 2024 from www.disabled-world.com/news/politics.php

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