Thursday, 3 November 2016

Privilege, intersectional identity and the US election #Cripthevote

This week's #cripcast was canceled after an hour long chat with Alice Wong and Andrew Pulrang was lost to a technical issue on my recorder.

They were two of the three founders of the #Cripthevote campaign, along with Gregg Beratan

It airs every Friday at noon Central Time on 88.1 FM in Fargo-Moorhead and everywhere

It is repeated at noon on Saturdays.

Alice suggested that I blog about our chat. I didn't take notes and my memory is unreliable so having recovered from frustration and anxiety, I decided to blog on the recurrent themes I remember.

Firstly, the majority of the press coverage of disability themes in this election has devolved into Trump's treatment of Serge Kovaleski versus the appearance of Anastacia Somoza at the Democratic National Committee.

It, and disabled people, are more complicated than that.

I am a white, male journalist and all three of these traits entitle me.

Kovaleski is also all three of these and in fact privileged by being a professional employee of one of the most well-known media organizations in the world in the guise of the New York Times.

This brings me on to the next theme.

My guests told me that what has emerged during the campaign is a picture of disabled people as individuals - people of different races, genders and political preferences.

Andrew and I are white men and therefore we benefit from such privilege. Alice is an woman of color and therefore has different experience.

What also emerged was the appetite and need for disabled people inside the political system, shaping policy rather than just voting on slates of policies fully formed by non-disabled people.

In all my observations, which I believe were echoed by Alice and Andrew, Obamacare was a rare point of almost complete agreement amongst disabled people - especially those of us with a pre-existing condition. The one dissenter to that view is a Twitter acquaintance known as Fracking Test Subject who has seen increases in her premiums reach levels which would undercut her finances. The solution to the problems most evident in Obamacare's workings right now are something no one has really addressed. Democrats are on the back foot and most Republicans are only calling for repeal,which would destroy the pre-existing condition protection with apparently no parachute whilst a new law is formulated.

I don't know if this recollection is from our chat or elsewhere but it has been pointed out that the way forward for insurance companies complaining about the cost of providing insurance could be the model that Romney developed in Massachusetts - mandatory insurance but entirely based on the market place, with public subsidies on a sliding scale linked to income.

I became aware that the US system presents an opportunity for people to work their way up from school board or sanitation commissioner through state parliaments to national politicial offices and this pyramid offers disabled people the chance to test out their stamina before it becomes a focus of attack advertising.

The UK on the other hand leaves the vast majority of parliamentarians experiencing their first experience of the details when they step into parliament the first time.

This blog post was posted rough to reach you before the show slot (this week, a repeat). Let me know about any inaccuracies.

Thanks for reading,

Wear your scars with pride.