An Open Letter To The Republican Party – It’s Time To Reach Out To The Disabled!

I wanted to write about something that is coming to the forefront of my mind more and more that I think about it. As you may or may not know, I am disabled. I’m legally blind and I am “blessed” with other handicaps as well. It has been very clear to me for many years that the “Champion” of the disabled are the Democrats. However I feel that the only reason is to use us as political pawns to advance their socialistic goals.

I’M SICK OF THIS!!!

If they think I am going to fall into line because of the vote-buying programs they are setting up by playing “Robin Hood” they have something coming. As Governor Huckabee said at the RNC Convention last year and again at CPAC, “I’m not a Republican because I grew up rich. I’m a Republican because I grew up poor and was tired of waiting for the government to help me out!”

There are many groups that Republicans are trying to reach out to (and rightly so – I don’t contest that). What about the disabled? I’ve never heard anyone mention this at all. I see a brighter future for me and for others with conservatism. Many of us are at the bottom rung of the ladder. We are nearly stuck. If we keep moving farther and farther towards socialism we will be stuck with no hope of making our lives better through hard work. I am on SSI disability but I don’t want to. However if I do go out and get a job I’ll lose my health-care which I desperately need. My only alternative is to go back to school and accept more Government aide that is robbed from hard-working people who have no say where that money goes. It could be going down a rat hole for they know. It’s a catch 22 and I am sick of it! It makes me want to cry..and yes, sometimes I do but I keep hope alive. I’m a fighter. I will continue to carry on!

I see many groups of Conservatives/Republicans but I see little-to-no reaching out to the disabled. I think it is time to change the story!  Of course, we are not going to get anywhere if I just tell you waht is wrong and don’t offer any solutions.  I have a few suggestions.  

Within my community (which to be fair is the visually handicapped) we see the Democrats as our champion. It has to do with perception. Most of us are on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder and the overall perception of the Democratic party is that they care more about the little guy than the Republicans do. Perception unfortunately becomes reality. While not a whole lot more, the Democrats reach out more to the disabled in their message. Remember the John Edwards ad about health-care and the disabled person’s story he chronicled in a campaign ad during the last cycle? 

However all is not lost. We did have Governor Palin in the last cycle as well. She spoke up for the needs of children with special needs. I spend a decent amount of time volunteering for a school that serves them but I found it unfortunate that she did not go all the way with that. Why just shine the light on them? Why not a more broad based outreach? 

I see Governor Huckabee as my “Champion”. Here is a man who did not grow up with “silk stockings and silver spoons.” He knows what it means to struggle. His compassion towards all people was sincere and heart-felt (and continues to be.  I should know.  I’ve met him in person). Yet his conservative convictions and principles stay true. 

So how should the Republicans reach out to those that are disabled? 

1. Make sure campaign websites and materials are adaptive. Make sure the websites are able to be read by screen-readers and the text large-enough for the low-sighted to read. Campaign messages on Youtube could be closed-captioned for the hearing impaired.  For example my best friend is totally blind and also supported Governor Huckabee’s presidential campaign.  However Mike’s site could not be accessed by the standard of screen-readers for the blind, JAWS.  Whenever he wanted to access the site to make a donation I had to do it for him.  

2. Don’t forget the disabled veterans. Mike didn’t. Push for the Veterans Bill of Rights. I’m surprised that McCain, of all people, did not even come up with a similar plan. Mike was the lone conservative voice for our Veterans’ interests.  They are true heroes.  We owe them a lot for fighting for and protecting our freedoms.   

3. Also there are other issues that need to be stressed. The FairTax and how the plan will allow us more freedom to make our lives better and advance up the ladder, if we work hard. Also health-care and education reform must be issues of importance because accomplishing them,, through conservative means (pro-active health care and school choice) will improve our overall quality of life. 

4. Republicans must go and speak to groups within our community, representing the Blind, deaf, and others. 

5. For major state-wide and nation-wide elections coalitions are often formed. I saw coalitions for every interest group under the sun but I have yet to see one on the Republican side for the disabled. 

Of course this isn’t a one-way street. This is going to take people, like me, speaking up for my community. I can “see”  very clear that I have made the first step towards this.

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