By all accounts, 2019 was the Year of the Democratic Debates. Starting in June, we tuned in for five debates and listened intently as candidates outlined their platforms and plans on everything from immigration reform to gun control to healthcare. Memes even captured the best moments and trending hashtags kept the conversations going on social media.
Yet as historic as these debates were (with a record number of female candidates at the debate podiums, for example), one topic continued to be noticeably absent time and time again: Disability rights and disability inclusion.
This became the basis for my final CNN op-ed in 2019 and it was one I’d been wanting to write for quite awhile. It’s so important that the candidates start talking about their disability platforms and, thankfully, I was so glad to see them discuss disabilities during the December debate.
Here’s an excerpt of the piece, in which I outline exactly why disabled people like myself need to be part of the conversation — on the debate stage & on the campaign trail…
Indeed, people with disabilities are fierce change-makers, which is why it’s essential that they’re included in discussions surrounding the crucial 2020 election and especially included in candidates’ disability platforms. After all, we know what it feels like to be left out when it comes to policy decisions — and even worse, we know what it feels like to be harmed by those policies.
As the saying goes, the personal is political. Who I am as a person and what I’ve been through because of my disability includes politics. For disabled people, it’s impossible to separate the two because what’s happening in Washington is directly affecting our personhood every day.
What I want from Thursday’s Democratic debate is the same thing I want in all the debates and on the campaign trail: I want disabled people to be seen and I want us to be included.*
*It’s also what I want from ALL the Democratic debates…
You can read the full piece here and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat! And of course, feel free to share my essay on Facebook, Twitter or even your local refrigerator. If you share on Twitter, be sure to tag me @melissablake so I see your tweet and we can connect! I can’t wait to hear from you! Love you all… xoxo