The Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary results will determine which candidates survive. These results will also determine what issues and which groups have traction with the candidates who remain. CNN and other media outlets have made it clear that issues that are important to people with disabilities specifically will not rise to the top and be addressed through debates and other media coverage unless many people ask candidates questions of interest to people with disabilities in town halls and other venues now.
So what should we do? Get a pitcher of beer, a bottle of wine, some glasses of milk, a six pack of cola or some other beverage and some snacks and develop a list of questions to which you and your friends want answers. Send them to your friends, relatives, and other contacts in Iowa and New Hampshire, as well as to media outlets and presidential campaigns. Right now everything is concentrated in these two states. Everything that will be addressed later or happen later will be influenced by what is happening now in Iowa and New Hampshire.
The bottom line is that if substantive issues that are important to people with disabilities do not surface prominently in those two states, it is very unlikely that they will become prominent during the rest of the campaign. After February 9, the date of the New Hampshire primary, the presidential campaign process goes from a lot of personal contact to a retail platform. That is because from that point forward there will be many primaries in many states around the same time. Candidates will shift from individual gatherings every day to a lot of media interviews and campaign commercials as the primary means to reach people.
Here's my list of questions:
1. What entitlement reform are you considering that would increase and promote the independence of people with disabilities to live in the community and contribute to its vitality?
2. What actions would you undertake to promote meaning inclusion of persons with disabilities into labor market with access to healthcare, career ladders, and supports?
3. What educational policies would you propose to increase the likelihood that students with disabilities would have the same options after high school graduation as their peers without disabilities?
4. What incentives would you introduce into the housing market to increase the likelihood that people with disabilities could become homeowners?
5. When considering tax form, what policies would you propose to provide a basis for people with disabilities to become savers and also not be penalized in anyway for having savings, regardless of their age, income, and assets?
6. When creating incentives for small business development what options would you include to attract people with disabilities who would like to be entrepreneurs?