In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the issue's role in presidential campaigns. In this campaign, a number of posts have discussed Trump's support for the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. He also has a bad record on disability issues more generally.
Twenty-six years ago, a Republican president signed the bipartisan Americans with Disability Act, or the ADA. That was then.
In the past year, the Republican presumptive nominee for president, Donald Trump, accused a reporter whom he had mocked of “using his disability to grandstand.” As a real estate developer, Trump’s properties have been sued several times for violating the ADA. At a rally in Florida, Trump said, “Nobody gives more money to Americans — you know, the Americans with Disabilities Act—big act. I give tens and tens of millions of dollars and I’m proud of doing it.” (On Tuesday, Trump responded angrily to reports questioning whether he had given as much to veterans as he claimed.)
Then there’s the title of his most recent book.
“When I saw Trump had a book called Crippled America, I was excited,” joked Emily Munson, a Republican disability rights activist and attorney in Indiana, about the title using a commonly pejorative term for people with disabilities. “I thought it was full of policy ideas on employment for people with disabilities.” Activists swarmed the #CrippledAmerica hashtag on Twitter, trying to use Trump’s book promotion to raise awareness.
Issues of disability have traditionally crossed party lines. But the era of Trump, along with a growing skepticism of laws like the ADA by some congressional Republicans, has many activists worried that times have changed.