The Ability to Effect Positive Change
June 7, 2016
Updated June 8, 2016
3 comments 188 views
We Americans will be voting for a president this year (You already heard? Fancy that!), as well as many other public officials.
Election cycles in any country provide an opportunity to influence public policy. Depending on who is elected, those policies can make the lives of people with disabilities better or worse. For example, the rates of poverty and unemployment are much higher for people with disabilities than the general population. Although some people’s impairments are so severe that they cannot engage in the workforce, many eager, hard-working, and resourceful people with disabilities remain outside the labor force for various reasons including discrimination and lack of adequate training or public transportation.
Here are some U.S. statistics:
Both the Old and New Testaments command working for justice for people who are oppressed, providing for people who are in need, and speaking up for those who have no voice. For people in the United States, this year’s election cycle provides an excellent opportunity to influence local, state, and federal elected officials for the good of citizens who live with various disabilities.
Along with RCA Disability Concerns, our partner in ministry, CRC Disability Concerns is a member of the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition (IDAC), a public policy group based in Washington DC. IDAC started the national REV UP America — Make the DISABILITY VOTE Count campaign. The campaign includes a letter to candidates for public office which will urge them to “lay out a comprehensive agenda that addresses the civil rights of Americans with disabilities.” In addition, the letter urges candidates to engage with the one in five Americans who live with disabilities so that the candidates can understand better how to provide “access and opportunity for all Americans”.
Both CRC and RCA Disability Concerns have signed the letter. I encourage you to read the letter yourself and sign it, as well as encourage your church or organization to sign it. In addition, you can use this list from IDAC of questions for candidates to engage with people running for office to guide their decision-making and priorities to reflect issues of justice for citizens with disabilities.
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It's difficult for Canadians NOT to be aware of Presidential election campaigns south of the border. When you're a mouse in bed with an elephant, as PM Pierre Elliot Trudeau, the late father of our present prime minister, used to say; you have to always be aware of what the elephant is going to do next. But since I can't vote in that election there isn't much point in sending that letter.
Michele, yes. When I was in Canada last week, I heard as much about the US presidential elections from people as I do hear - and recommendations who NOT to vote for!
I try not to be a one-issue voter, but an issue like justice for people with disabilities makes it really tempting to do so. The statistics are startling.
I am grateful for the leadership of IDAC (among others) on this. Thank you for taking the time to post this so it can be shared.
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