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So, it’s once more time for A Chronic Voice’s monthly linkup. This month’s words are producing, acquiring, switching, disappointing, and forming.

Here in the US, it’s election season, and it’s a strange one thanks in part to Covid-19. It has been a really strange and stressful year, and I am extremely concerned about the outcome of this election.

Four years ago, our 45th president was elected, despite losing the popular vote. Things have gone extremely poorly during these years, with many of our country’s institutions suffering pretty severe damage, and with the office of the president itself tarnished by his actions.

We need change in a way that is much more urgent than it has been in recent years. This election may make or break our democracy, and will greatly impact how our nation responds to the current stresses and issues.

Producing fear

This has been an incredibly fear-inducing and stressful year. There are a lot of contributing factors to this, most notably the Covid-19 pandemic, but there have been a lot of presidential decisions and inactions that have made things much worse than they needed to be, and that’s what worries me most.

Covid-19 is a virus that is easily spread and has had a huge impact globally, despite only being deadly for about 2% of the population.

While many countries have been cautious about it, the US has failed to take appropriate actions in response to this disease, predominantly due to a lack of leadership from our current president.

The risks involved could have been managed better, the country could have prepared better, and a national plan for testing and management would likely have given us months for the economy to recover before the second wave, rather than the mess we are currently dealing with.

Of course, people were going to die from Covid-19. But too many people died, too many were put at risk, and too little work was put in to prevent this spread.

The disabled and chronically ill population is at higher risk of being killed or incapacitated by COVID-19 than our abled peers, and are among the most impacted by the poor response.

The rampant ableism isn’t helpful either, another demonstration of how often the disabled community is ignored by greater society.

Covid-19 is a deadly virus, which has been about 5x as deadly for people of color as it has been for whites. Police brutality has also been deadly for many people of color.

The other huge fear-associated issue has been the racial injustices going on in this country. Police brutality is a huge problem with a storied past, especially given that early police forces were designated slave catchers.

It doesn’t surprise me that the protests occurred, especially with Covid-19 being so much more deadly for minority populations.

There was no ‘winning’ option here for minorities, and I fully support the protests for change in our country, especially in regards to defunding police/redistributing funds to better support our communities.

Unfortunately, our president has let this nation down again.

Rather than acknowledging the problem or de-escalating the situation, he instead fearmongered and spread the stories of violence, images of riots, and ridiculed the idea that the situation required fixing.

Acquiring support through white supremacy

Our president has built too much of his following from white supremacists and on their values. Since his campaign started, he has consistently shown hostility towards non-whites. His focus has been on keeping them out by building a wall across the border, creating bans from countries with different religions, and supporting officials who abused latinos for their potential to be ‘illegal’.

He actively has chosen to surround himself with white supremacists/nationalists and share their false narratives.

Racism is, unfortunately, alive and well in this country, and our president’s every response had fanned the flames, increased the violence, and decreased the safety of everybody involved.

Our president has consistently been aligned with white supremacist ideals.

If his choice of running-mate didn’t clue you in on his attitude towards the LGBT community, the Human Rights Campaign lay out a timeline of Trump’s anti-LGBT actions.

Trump not only has mocked Serge Kovaleski, he also has consistently worked to undermine the Affordable Care Act, which (among many other benefits) protects people with pre-existing conditions and helps us maintain healthcare coverage.

While he repeatedly states that he will provide ‘the best’ coverage, nothing he has done has suggested that he actually can or will do so.

He is a fan of deregulation and minimal standards, which aren’t strategies that help our community – we have had law after law passed to protect and include us, and still face an uphill battle against discrimination. If anything, we need more laws and standards and best practices to mitigate the discrimination that we face as a community.

His behavior isn’t presidential, isn’t sensible, isn’t well-intentioned.

It’s deeply disturbing, and a sign of just how damaged our democracy is.

Code Switching: chosing my language and focus based on who I’m interacting with

While I have been disabled throughout my adult life, I’ve also been relatively privledged. I’m still white, my family has always been able to afford to help me out(and willing to do so), and my SSDI benefits are near the high end(I guess because so much of my time I was both a student and working).

I also was socially ‘acceptable’, taught to respect doctors while pushing back if I disagreed with their assessments, and live close enough to NYC that I could seek out expert opinions there with relative ease.

My friends and positive aquaintences range through many races, genders, orientations, and educational levels, so I have been privledged to be able to learn so much from the folks around me.

With these privledges, I’ve also learned different terms, phrases, and definitions in relation to my identities, and find that I sometimes codeswitch based on who I am communicating with.

My multiple levels of ‘passing privilege’ places me in the position of being able to push back when it may be unsafe or simply even more exhausting for others.

I have done my best to use my variety of experiences to explain and expand upon the challenges that our current president and his attitudes have caused.

I’ve tried to have conversations with my social connections about racism, sexism, police brutality, reperations, ableism, discrimination, and how covid-19 works.

There are many types and forms of codeswitching, But all are about being able to express yourself in multiple ways.

It’s been a painful experience. Too many people have refused to be moved. Too many have only accepted parts of my arguments(agreeing that ableism is real, but insisting that racism isn’t), multiple people have devolved to personal attacks, or interpreted my statements as such.

But I haven’t given up(on the fight…there are individual arguments I have left), and I’ve kept an eye on my feed, checking what others share.

I’ve been sharing useful news and information, and trying to correct the disinformation I see.

I know that whatever happens, I won’t be the hardest hit. I’ve got protections around me.

I also know that I’m part of some of the hardest-hit communities and that the multiply-marginalized suffer most.

That’s friends of mine, and friends of theirs. That’s my fellow bi(and queer) folks, my fellow disabled folks, my fellow poor folks.

We deserve to be treated better than that.

I know that I’ll get through.

I know that not everybody will.

In this race for the presidency, I’m doing my best not to lose.

Disappointing candidate, but still our best option

I’m voting for Joe Biden for president. I can’t afford to consider a third party candidate and as I discussed above our current president is making a mockery of our democracy.

I’m not worried about Biden refusing to accept the election results.

I know that he’ll do what he can to repair the erosion of our government institutions.
I know that he’ll try to provide health insurance to more of our citizens, rather than removing our protections.

I lean much further left than that.

I want a single payer health care system(like Medicare for all), rather than our current broken healthcare system.

I’d rather have some form of universal basic income than our current broken social safety net.

I’d love to be able to work without fear of losing my health insurance.

But I need to focus on reality. And the reality is that my choice, the only real choice in terms of president, is between two straight white men in their 70’s.

And given the options, I’m 100% for Joe Biden.

This pun describes my attitude and plan for this election rather well.

I’m all about being realistic and keeping my optimism within the appropriate range.

Joe Biden is somebody who we have a chance of reasoning with. Somebody who does want to improve our situation. Somebody who has dealt with a disabling condition.

He’s aware of political impact and he’s aware of how influence works and he’s capable of empathy to his fellow humans.

Sadly, his opponent seems to lack most of these qualities, based upon our experiences of the past several years.

Our current president’s only consideration seems to be what will directly benefit him. He’s made choices again and again that only damages the American people.

We deserve better. The only way to fix things is to have a ‘blue wave’ wash over our country, one that forces change and gives us, as a nation, the possibility of better managing covid-19, and of actually breaking down our racist systems within the government.

We deserve to be treated equally, and we deserve to be lifted out of the poverty that’s been forced on us for the past 50 years or so. The middle class deserves to grow, and poverty should be reduced or eliminated.

If we can do this, our nation’s future looks much brighter, and our individual lives much better.

We need to be engaged this election, so please, please please be sure to vote this year. And I sincerely hope that you vote for Joe.

I am voting for Joe Biden – and then I plan to help push him as far to the left as possible.

Forming new spaces for hope to grow

A big part of pushing to the left is participating in groups that do so. To that end, I found and am now actively participating in The Poor People’s Campaign.

I support their mission and goal: to establish governmental change that helps everyone escape poverty and be treated as human beings.

I want to help make this happen, especially in recognition of how very many disabled, LGBT, and otherwise marginalized people are also poor.

I am now working on forming a disability affinity group for the Poor People’s Campaign.

After my experiences of ableism(and refusal to condemn it) within BiRequest, I’ve been extra aware of this concern.

I took the fight as far as I could within BiRequest and was left disappointed, so I entered Poor People’s Campaign ready to step forward with that fight from day 1. And I have.

The MORE campaign is currently being run by the Poor Peoples Campaign.

I offer to help out, but am sure that accessibility and an understanding of disability are among the first suggestions I make and rights that I push towards.

I’m connecting with other disabled folks and doing my best to build up our community.

I want to help others with disabilities feel safe and engaged and am doing whatever I can to guide the group in that direction.

The intentions seem good, but the practice is much more variable.

I’m focusing my energy on this as I’m hoping to help shift the narrative, shift the storyline, and help the focus within poor people’s campaign include recognition of and partnership with the disabled community.

I love what the Poor People’s Campaign is trying to do, and I love the groups that they are working with.

I just want to make sure that the marginalized identities that I have aren’t minimized by the PPC, and want to have the contributions of my community be recognized as important and useful, especially because so few groups, especially many activist groups, will do so.

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14 Comments

  1. I can only say Alison that so many of us outside the US are following the election and so hoping for change. We have watched with horror at what has been happening in the US and are crossing our fingers, toes and everything else for the right outcome.

  2. My family is in the US and we are watching with a lot of apprehension and fear. It’s terrifying to see what has happened to a country I used to adore. Hoping for the best this year. No matter what, a lot more changes are coming.

    1. Thanks Carrie!
      Yeah, watching things slide towards a dictatorship and having Nazis be described as ‘very fine people’ has been supremely disturbing.
      It’s been really disturbing watching my country break down from within, and how extreme this tribalism goes.

  3. Over here in the UK I think the general consensus is that most of us are so glad that we don’t live in the USA right now. And that’s from a Country that in a right mess from COVID, BREXIT and a useless government. I wish you all the best whatever happens.

    1. Anne,
      If our current president is reelected, I want out! It’s so painful having him in office, and so many people I love are in danger given the rheroic used.
      With him now having covid-19, I don’t want to wish him ill, but I hope that he learns something from the experience (but am not holding my breath)

  4. This is such a tricky and sensitive topic isn’t it, especially now in the US. I often wonder what it’s like to live there and experience it ‘live’. Musn’t be too pleasant 🙁

    1. If I don’t think about it, I am fine, for now. But with a very anti-LGBT vice president and a president who supports white supremecists, I don’t feel particularly safe. Especially since my partner is Latino and we are both managing disabling conditions.
      Day to day life is OK so far, but I am really concerned about the policy changes the current government has made.

  5. Great post! I’ve had to be so careful in what I say around family about this. I’ve never been scared for my country before, until now. I really hope SCOTUS doesn’t do away with ACA, because I won’t be able to have any health insurance. But, it looks pretty bad.

    1. Lisa,
      I’m worried about that too!
      I feel really fortunate that Al and my families mostly share our political beliefs , so we can safely have these conversations.
      There is so much to worry about at the moment, and the ACA is definitely on my mind too.
      Hoping we will get good news this election cycle!!

  6. Hi, Alison! Great use of the prompts. I’ve been very concerned about the direction my country is moving in and the lack of concern that many people are expressing. Americans are so oriented towards individuality, and “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” that they cannot see the injustice and poverity all around them as anything but laziness, and the poor or disabled person’s fault. We also have very little regard for the well-being of our community. Individual rights always come before anyone else’s . It’s truly distressing.

    1. Kathy,
      Thank you! The even scarier thing is that most of the folks preaching ‘rugged individualism’ had all kinds of support growing up. They often were financially priveledged, able to get others to invest in them, and had the benefits of quality education and connections in high places. It’s rediculous!
      I wrote a post on here specifically talking about the shame and stigma heaped upon poor people…it’s a very real issue and one that we need to be and stay aware of!

  7. Hello once again, Alison, thank you for sharing such an important and thought-provoking post. Although miles and miles away from the US, there is still a lot of interest in the US election here in the UK and we are all hoping that the right result comes to fruition and that positive change will happen for all citizens of the US.

  8. Thank you Rhiann,
    I think the whole world will sigh in relief when we have a new president. I think and hope that that change will be soon.
    It’s scary over here right now. Too much violence and death, and the brokenness of our systems has been made more obvious. I sincerely hope that major change is coming, we need it!

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