In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the issue's role in presidential campaigns.
On January 2, Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced a new policy platform titled: “Protecting the Rights and Equality of People with Disabilities.” It’s scope and level of detail is impressive by any measure, and compared with what disabled voters and activists have been used to over the last 20 years, it would have been genuinely exceptional all by itself.
But Warren’s plan isn’t even her own first foray into disability policy, and in this election cycle, several other major candidates have also offered credible, detailed disability proposals, including: Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Kamala Harris, and Bernie Sanders. Other candidates, like Joe Biden, Beto O’Rourke, Marianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang have also put out proposals that only look a bit thin and preliminary in comparison to the higher standards of today. Just a few years ago, they would have been considered notable too.
While these are very concrete encouraging signs, most disabled voters are simply not aware of them yet, or are holding their breaths. These policies are just the beginning. There is plenty of time for candidates to stumble over the right words, make policy mistakes, misread rooms, and make disappointing tradeoffs. So now is probably a useful time for everyone, inducing politicians and people with disabilities, to think about what exactly disabled people want from candidates.