Friday, November 11, 2016

What about Disability Expertise in the Trump Administration?

Historically appointing people to fill political jobs in disability-related positions, regardless of the party who wins a presidential election, takes a long time to fill -- 12 to 18 months on average. On the one hand, that suggests less than optimal status in the food chain. On the other hand, it gives us some time to encourage smart, thoughtful, knowledgeable, and experienced people to apply.

What would President-Elect Trump do related to disability policy? On the one hand, that's a hard question to answer given the scarcity of substantive detail even remotely connected to disability policy or possible initiatives. He has made strong, affirmative statements about assisting vets, so maybe reviewing them will give us some ideas. He has said he would block grant Medicaid, giving states control of it, so perhaps we should invest in strengthening disability advocacy coalitions in individual states. He is all about growing jobs here in America, so whatever mechanisms that emerge to make that happen, people who represent people with disabilities need to be at the table. Perhaps someone needs to tell him that undoing some executive orders related to employment of persons with disabilities would be counter productive. His positions on education matters are not part of a comprehensive plan, but the ones we know about would definitely give states more discretion and control and give parents more choice. Again, strong voices in individual states advocating for the right processes and outcomes will be most necessary.

The things I have identified are not inherently horrific. It's a matter of how they are done. It's a matter of whom President-Elect Trump HIRES to steer the disability ship. I encourage him to hire people who believe, have experience with, and would practice these principles when placed in positions of power:

1. Take a serious look at what is before you attempt to alter it.
2. If you decide ultimately to alter it, get broad input from end-user stakeholders.
3. Don't make things more complicated by always believing 50 ways of doing something is better than one way of doing something.
4. Protect with strong conviction the disability rights laws that are on the books.

If you believe and practice these principles, you are someone President-Elect Trump could use in his administration. You could do a lot of good. The worse that could happen is that he would fire you or you would quit. But, before that you could shape things in ways that would pay off for people with disabilities. Doing so, even only for a while, would be worth it.

Common Grounder

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