In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the issue's role in presidential campaigns. As I explain in the book, Hillary Clinton has a long history with the issue,
John Wagner and Abby Phillip write at The Washington Post:
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is pushing intensively to win over a group of voters who don’t typically get much attention during elections but who have become an increasingly potent political force: disabled people and their families.Also see a radio report from Tamara Keith.
With the race tighter than it was a month ago and Clinton struggling to generate enthusiasm within the Democratic base, her appeal to disabled people and their families comes amid a broader effort to win over voters. After weeks of mostly attacking Republican Donald Trump, she is highlighting specific policy prescriptions while trying to show a more compassionate side and present an affirmative vision for the country.
In Orlando yesterday, Hillary Clinton spoke about her disability policy:
First, we’re going to focus on jobs and incomes. I’m going to fight to give more Americans with disabilities the chance to work alongside those without disabilities and do the same jobs for the same pay and benefits. People with disabilities shouldn’t be isolated. They should be given the chance to work with everyone else. And we’re going to eliminate the subminimum wage, which is a vestige from an ugly, ignorant past. Good work deserves fair pay, no matter who you are.
Second, we’re going to work with our colleges and universities to make them more accessible to students with disabilities. To have a truly inclusive economy, we need a truly inclusive education system. So let’s raise our standards. For too long, accessibility has been an afterthought. Let’s make it a priority in our curriculums, our classrooms, and the technology our students use. It’s like what Anastasia said about her sister. She can communicate through a computer. Then let’s make sure kids who can communicate that way have the opportunity to do so.
Third, we’re going to partner with businesses and other stakeholders to ensure those living with a disability can get hired and stay hired. As part of that, we’ll launch a new effort we’re calling Autism Works to help people with autism succeed in the workplace.
Fourth, let’s build on the success of the Americans with Disabilities Act by finally ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It has the strong backing of leaders across the political spectrum, and it’s a chance to show American values and American leadership. And I have to tell you ever since I was first lady, I have had the great privilege of traveling the world on behalf of our country. When I was secretary of state, I went to 112 countries. And one of the things that I have noticed is how far behind many countries are in how they treat people with disabilities. Very often people with disabilities from the time they are babies and toddlers are locked away, basically forgotten. I want us since we have been the leader in this area to get that ratified and then to demonstrate to other countries what we have done and are doing to give dignity and opportunity to people with disabilities.At The Atlantic, David Graham notes that disability politics used to be bipartisan.
In 2012, the Senate failed to ratify a United Nations treaty called the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities. Democrats supported the treaty, but Republicans were split. On the pro side were George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole, the former Senate GOP leader and presidential candidate who was injured during World War II. On the con side were a bloc who warned on extremely dubious grounds that the treaty would allow the UN to meddle in U.S. courts. In the end, the treaty failed, despite Dole himself appearing on the Senate floor to lobby. It needed two-thirds of votes to pass, but was only able to garner 61.
The Trump campaign has only exacerbated any such splits. The most egregious moment came when he mocked New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski. Trump falsely claimed he’d seen Muslims celebrating 9/11 in the streets in New Jersey, and pointed to reporting Kovaleski, who was then a reporter for The Washington Post. When Kovaleski, who has a congenital condition affecting his joints, contradicted Trump, Trump mocked him, doing a physical impression of Kovaleski(Note, however, that passage of the ABLE Act was bipartisan, indeed almost unanimous.)