Last week was an eventful one in disability activism. We should make the most of it. Get ready to #CripTheVote.
This week, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton endorsed two specific policy proposals that are incredibly important to the disability community.
On Monday, March 28, she answered a question from the audience at one of her campaign events, (an attorney with autism), about the long and controversial practice of paying sub minimum wage to certain disabled workers. Clinton said that the practice, which is legal under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, should be abandoned … that no disabled person should be paid less than the minimum wage. (Add link to article).
Then, on Saturday, activists from ADAPT in Rochester, New York traveled to a Clinton event in Syracuse, specifically to ask Clinton if she supports the Disability Integration Act, (DIA), a Senate bill sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer, that would require all states to allow anyone qualified for long term care services to receive those services at home if they choose … essentially ensuring that nobody has to go into a nursing home or other institution if they don’t want to. Again, an activist in the audience asked Clinton if she’d support the DIA, and she said yes. (Add link to article).
These endorsements are important for several reasons.
- These statements are unusually specific. 14(c) will either be repealed or not, and the DIA will either pass the Senate, or not,. They aren’t vague aspirations that can't be pinned down. They are specific policy goals we can easily track in the coming months and years.
- They address two of the most potent issues the disability community cares about. Both are about fundamental values like fair pay and basic freedom.
- As important as these issues are to the disability community, most voters don’t know anything about them, so endorsing them really doesn’t help a candidate with anyone except for voters with disabilities and maybe their families. Bothering to day anything at all about these issues indicates that a candidate views disabled voters as worth courting.
- Both proposed solutions are at least somewhat controversial. Sub minimum wage has defenders, including some disabled people, disability professionals, and families. And it is far from clear what, exactly, is the most effective way to help disabled people get out and stay out of nursing homes. Most people agree on these goals, but any kind of tinkering with existing programs tends to raise objections, some of them practical, others simply based on financial interest or emotional investment in the status quo. Taking positions on these issues will win friends, but also create some enemies.
- These are meaningful policy statements that are more specific than what any of the presidential candidates have already said in their speeches or on their websites.
If you support Hillary Clinton for President, this is reason to be very proud. But that’s not the end of the story. The other candidates could, in theory, offer their support as well. The most obvious would be Bernie Sanders, but it’s not out of the question that a Republican candidate might support these positions.
And if ALL of the candidates came out in favor of these policies, it would be nothing but good news for the disability community. So let’s see if we can make that happen!
This week, get on Twitter, and tweet the challenge to the other presidential candidates. Ask them to support repeal of the sub minimum wage for disabled workers. Ask them to support the Disability Integration Act. Here are suggestions to help you do this for each issue.
Issue Background: Subminimum Wage:
@JohnKasich @mike_schrimpf Will John Kasich support banning payment of subminimum wage to workers with disabilities? #CripTheVote
@tedcruz @MrJoshPerry Will Ted Cruz support banning payment of subminimum wage to workers with disabilities? #CripTheVote
@realDonaldTrump @DanScavino Will Donald Trump support banning payment of subminimum wage to workers with disabilities? #CripTheVote
@BernieSanders @taddevine Will Bernie Sanders support banning payment of subminimum wage to workers with disabilities? #CripTheVote
Issue Background: Disability Integration Act
@BernieSanders @taddevine Will Bernie Sanders support the Disability Integration Act (S.2427)? #DIAToday #CripTheVote
@JohnKasich @mike_schrimpf Will John Kasich support the Disability Integration Act (S.2427)? #DIAToday #CripTheVote
@tedcruz @MrJoshPerry Will Ted Cruz cosponsor the Disability Integration Act (S.2427)? #DIAToday #CripTheVote
@realDonaldTrump @DanScavino Will Donald Trump support the Disability Integration Act (S.2427)? #DIAToday #CripTheVote
Each tweet includes the candidate’s official Twitter handle, and one for a key campaign advisor or manager. Adding #CripTheVote joins all of our Tweets into more of a unified push, and makes it easier for us to see right away how heavily and consistently we are delivering our message. Of course, you can also compose your own messages. However, it’s a good idea to make them basically the same for each candidate, to make it clear that the benefits of listening and responding to the disability community are open to all candidates, not just those people may assume we already support.
Let's start today, Monday, April 4, and see how many tweets we can generate this week. Okay? Let’s do this!