Friday, November 14, 2014

A Letter to Young People of the USA: The CRPD and You

Dear Young Friends,

The future belongs to you. Those of us ahead of you would probably get a C- grade for stewardship if the determining factor was success in obtaining the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Right now Washington DC is a crazy place. The president is about to take unilateral action on immigration and the Republicans are very upset about it. The Senate and House are about to pass legislation to build a transcontinental pipeline that environmentalists don't like and on which, the president kept deferring a decision, to appease them. I suspect he hoped it would just go away. In the midst of all this the Association of University Centers on Disabilities had its annual meeting. Many of you, who are trainees at universities, went on Capitol Hill to talk to staff about disability issues, including the ratification of the CRPD. Since the day you made this trip to the Hill was the first day back for members, you probably did not get the undivided attention of staff or senators when you raised issues.

Many people who have written or talked about the younger generation of Americans have said that you are concerned about the environment, care about other people, want to do things to make the planet a better place, and have tremendous debt because of your education. You like a good cause and can be motivated to take action to make things move in the right direction.

Well, you can sure help us now. We have next week and perhaps two weeks in December to bring about a Senate floor vote on the CRPD. Here are the things I urge you to do.

1. Gather with a number of your friends, scan this blog for some talking points on the CRPD, and then everybody make calls to Majority Leader Harry Reid's Office (He is from Nevada and controls the Senate schedule until the end of this session of Congress, which ends in mid-December) and ask for a floor about on the CRPD. His number is -- 202.224.3542. Senate offices count calls for and against the CRPD, so they are worth making. You could also put messages on Harry Reid's Facebook page ( and through his Twitter account (@SenatorReid). Unless you're from Nevada, email messages don't work because staff only read those from the state of Nevada ( So if you're not from Nevada you can't really weigh in effectively via email.

2.  IF you're not from Nevada, you and your friends should also contact your state senators and urge them to call Harry Reid and ask him to arrange for a Senate floor vote on the CRPD.

3.  Keep track of your efforts and if you are willing, share them with me at Please put CRPD in the subject line.

4. If you are lucky enough to get into a conversation with a live person in a Senate office, here are the points I would make.

-- The U.S. must join the 151 countries that have ratified the CRPD.
-- Disability rights do not stop at a geographical border -- they are principles that are universally celebrated, sought after, and recognized as a sign of country's commitment to human rights.
-- Please find the way to find the words that will overcome differences among Senators. Those of us who are young, with and without disabilities, want the U.S. to remain a strong, influential voice for a more accessible world that offers unlimited opportunities for each of us to participate and contribute to community life.

Young friends, if you help us in the next few weeks we stand an excellent chance of securing ratification. We need your energy. We need your voices. We need your vision of the future.

Thank you.
Common Grounder

Monday, November 10, 2014

Low Hanging Fruit

Senators will be back in town on November 12th. Republicans are focused on taking over the Senate, planning on how to get things done, and packing boxes. Democrats are focusing on what they can do between now and mid-December of this year, determining on what they can agree with Republicans when they take over the Senate, and backing boxes. On one thing Republicans and Democrats agree – the American people want them to figure out how to work together. In my October 1, 2014 post I reported on a poll that was taken of 1,000 likely voters. It was not a poll of disabled voters, just 1,000 voters. A majority, who identified themselves as Republican, Democrat or Independent, thought that ratification of the CRPD was a good idea. Our job this week is to convince Senators that these poll results make sense, that ratification of the CRPD makes sense, and that by debating it and voting on it, they will be doing something that the American public supports. They will be showing that they can get along and agree on disability rights and making a move that improves the U.S. standing in the world.

If you're in town for the AUCD conference, please take time to visit your Senators and ask them to ask Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell to let the Senate process play out on the CRPD. Let's have vigorous debate and a vote. If you're not in town but have a phone, computer, or other device with which you could communicate with your Senators, please do so. It's time Senators consider ratification of the CRPD as low hanging fruit from which they will both receive benefit, short term and long term.

Thank you.
Common Grounder