Disability Is Now Partisan – It doesn’t have to be though.

Later today, Hillary Clinton will give a new piece about economic opportunity for people with disabilities. It’s part of her broader pivot to positive policy speeches, rather than just attacking Trump all the time. Some folks will be live-tweeting under the hashtag #criponomics.

Clinton’s campaign just released this ad, narrated in sign language by celebrity model Nyle DiMarco (accessibility is complicated – there’s no sound on purpose, but now blind people can’t hear the ad). The ad is explicitly cross-disability in focus.

David Graham has a new piece at The Atlantic on “How Disability Turned Partisan,” that’s worth a read. Graham writes:

You’d think none of that would be all that controversial. Disabilities strike across age groups, racial barriers, and partisan lines. In this election, even this is a polarized issue—though the roots of that split actually date back to before Donald Trump was a major political figure.

Disability politics used to be bipartisan. The Americans with Disabilities Act was primarily authored by Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat. It passed the Senate and House overwhelmingly—91-6 and 377–28, respectively, and was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990…. Eighteen years later, Bush’s son George W. Bush signed some expansions of the ADA into law.

Since then, however, things have sputtered. 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.

Graham then turns to Trump’s infamous mocking incident, “Crippled America,” and more, before writing:

But Clinton’s focus on disability issues isn’t just a matter of electoral jockeying. It’s also in line with the direction of progressive politics as a whole. The Democratic Party has increasingly embraced the language and agenda of social justice. As my colleague Clare Foran noted back in March, Clinton herself has adopted the language of intersectionality, the idea that forms of discrimination, marginalization, and inequality should not be considered singly but as a complex, with different forms compounding one another.

At the presidential level, disability is partisan. It’s less clear though at the states, where there are many GOP officials quite dedicated to disability rights, even as they are often limited in what they can do due to their party’s insistence on austerity.

Maybe later I’ll write a response – “Does disability have to stay partisan?”

My pieces on disability and the presidential race:

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