I love watching the Sunday morning news talk shows. Recently, I was watching one of the morning shows, and listened to a roundtable discussion on the upcoming presidential elections. One of the participants in the discussion was asked, “how can the voters of our nation best learn about the positions of each candidate?” He hesitated and said, “not by listening to Sunday morning talk shows!”
I mention this because, with our upcoming elections, I know I need to be an educated voter, and just as important, I need to be willing to ask candidates running for office to let me know where they stand on issues that are important to me as an individual. And while I always will want the best for our nation, I also want whoever is elected to Congress, the Senate, or as President to value the need for our nation to do so much more for those living with a disability. For far too long, I have seen too many elected officials agree that more has to be done, but then see little or no action. Certainly, there are elected officials who are heroes and leaders in attempting to address the growing needs of all living with a disability. But, unfortunately, our national public policy and funding efforts still fall way short in helping improve the well-being and quality of life for all living with a disability.
So, what if I had the chance to sit down with a candidate running for Congress, the Senate, or the Presidency? What would I ask them? I would ask them to answer the following questions, not so much for what they think I want to hear, but what they really will do if elected:
- How can you assure me that you will advocate for the well being of all living with a disability, and what results will I see from your efforts in terms of increased efforts by the government to advance the quality of life for those living with a disability?
- What is your record of success in terms of addressing the needs of those living with a disability, and how can you show me that your efforts have demonstrated results in terms of increasing the quality of life of a person with a disability?
- I know that government has limited funds, but why aren’t the needs of those living with a disability prioritized over needs of other government expenditures, and what are you going to do to change that?
- What is the government’s role in helping a person with a disability (as well as a family helping their loved one with a disability) and how will you assure that role is implemented if you are elected?
- How are you going to reduce the very high unemployment rates of individuals with a disability, and how are you going to address the ongoing discrimination directed at individuals with a disability in the rendering of a public education, housing, civil rights assurance and much more?
These are the five questions I want those seeking my vote to answer. And, if as a result of their answer, I choose to vote for them and they are elected, I will hold them accountable to do what they said they would do to get my vote. Because to me, the highest value of a democracy is that each person over 18 years of age in our nation can and should vote. And, I never want my vote taken for granted or to be told one thing by someone seeking my vote, and then have them not do what they told me to get elected.