I’ve followed this presidential election cycle really closely, and obviously have some really strong opinions about the candidates. I regularly listen to five political podcasts, participate in a Facebook group dedicated to having respectful, intelligent conversations on politics (loooove it), watched all the debates while closely following Twitter at the same time, and have read a ton of articles and posts from lots of intelligent people (on both sides) to learn all that I can. I voted early, and voted very differently than I have in the past. It’s 2016, and for the first time, I’m informed and invested in all this.
In 2012, Obama was running for re-election against Mitt Romney. I don’t remember one single thing about that campaign cycle, or election. I honestly can’t even remember if I voted or not (surely, I did, right? But I don’t have any memory of it). Why? Oh yeah, Grayson had been diagnosed with Leigh’s less than two months before election day, and I was fairly newly pregnant with my surprise baby who we didn’t know wasn’t also going to be born sick.
In 2012, my brain couldn’t handle much other than trying to survive the aftermath of two shocking, life-altering pieces of news. I highly doubt that who was going to be president the next four years even factored into any of my immediate thoughts or concerns.
Now, having emerged from the fog of G’s diagnosis, I realize that having a special needs, medically fragile child requires me to be invested in politics and have knowledge of what legislation is being passed that will directly affect my family.
When cuts are made to deny therapies and special education, that’s not an abstract, fiscal decision. That’s our life. The people receiving government assistance for medical care aren’t people who are “lazy” and “taking advantage of the system”- they’re us, a family who would be legitimately broke without Medicaid. So much of Grayson’s quality of life and our ability to give him the best medical care and education depends on decisions made by people we elect to make these choices on what money goes where. I have to pay attention, and I voted for the candidates and party that I believe will best serve disadvantaged populations and people truly in need of assistance.
I also have to factor in how the candidates value life, especially the lives of the vulnerable, disabled, and disadvantaged. (Please don’t turn this into an abortion debate; we can talk about that later and how I truly believe you can be politically pro-choice and hold all life in the highest esteem). I’ve really been struggling with the reality that so many people I love and admire deeply are voting for Trump. I feel genuine anger, and I know that’s not entirely fair. The anger is on me, and it’s my issue to deal with, and no one owes me an explanation. Most of the Trump supporters I know are kind hearted people who want the best for their families, my family, and the country. I truly believe they are voting not because of Trump’s disgusting behavior and insults, but in spite of them. I don’t think they are included in the Basket of Deplorables, although they are giving deplorable views a pass and a voice: a pass that shouldn’t be given and a voice that shouldn’t be heard.
After reading this article, I know why I’m so upset. I’m taking Trump votes personally because I see them as a slap in the face to my family and my son. I am really having an impossible time accepting that people who love my child and my family would say that they want someone to be president who sees my son (not to mention other groups of people) as “lesser”. Trump has repeatedly and unapologetically discriminated against and ridiculed women, immigrants, the disabled, and minorities. He bragged about sexual assault. In addition to friends also raising children with disabilities, I have friends who are immigrants, who are black, Hispanic, Muslim, and gay. There are people I love dearly who have been sexually assaulted. I take those votes personally for them, too.
If you are skeptical Trump doesn’t think less of people with intellectual disabilities or weak bodies given to them by genetics (as my son has), watch the video in this article. It’s horrifying.
This isn’t about Hillary Clinton. I understand that people have valid concerns about her candidacy and can’t vote for her. It’s not about the Republican party platform, or Supreme Court nominations. This is about this candidate, in this election. Those voting for Trump are casting their votes not just for his policies, but as tolerance for his hateful and bigoted views against marginalized and vulnerable people. They may not hold those views personally, but their support is amplifying the views of many others who do.