By Zack Eichten
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” – Martin Luther King Jr.
It’s a new year, and the year 2020 will bring about a consequential election for the Presidency, House of Representatives, Senate, and state legislatures across the county.
I know, I know, people don’t like to talk about politics, but the truth is our lives are impacted a lot by policymakers at all levels. The decisions made in state legislatures, Congress, and the executive branch has direct impact on many of the programs people with disabilities rely on in order to survive. It is incredibly important to elect people who will represent your values into the offices that make these decisions related to improving the lives of the disability community. The Democratic primary is currently happening, and even though many states have cancelled their primary, the GOP has a presidential primary as well.
IMPORTANT: Regardless of which party you want to vote in, I encourage you to look up more information on the candidates’ policy positions. There is diversity of positions on many issues that may be important to you across the primary field.
Later, many states will hold additional primaries for other offices. I encourage you to vote in these local primaries as well. These are just as important as a vote in the presidential primary. These local legislators are the ones that have the most concrete influence on programs that people with disabilities rely on.
Finally, voting in the election come November 2020 is critical. Many states have options to vote from home, vote early, or have other accommodations for people with disabilities to make voting accessible. If you have questions about a your state’s accommodations, call your Secretary of State’s office, and they will be able to get you information on how to vote that is accessible for you.
We see politics everywhere. It is on the news, on Facebook and Twitter, at family gatherings, and also in our day-to-day life. It can get exhausting trying to keep up with the information every single day. This is the cost of a democracy. Democracy requires citizens to participate—or else the system falls apart. As we approach primary season, and the following election season, I encourage you to vote for the candidate that embodies your values. Voting, and participating, is the very bedrock of our society. Don’t squander your chance to improve the world.
Zack Eichten is a Public Policy Associate at the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance and a Direct Lobbyist.