Sarah Palin as Vice Presidential Candidate and Mom of a Child with a Disability

All morning, I have been on twitter, waiting to find out who John McCain would pick as his Vice Presidential running mate.  Sarah Palin’s name was floated early, in advance of the announcement, and I checked out her bio on Wikipedia.  One thing stuck out immediately for me- she has a baby, born in April 2008, now 5 months old, who has Down syndrome.Down Syndrome is also called Trisomy 21- the children have a third #21 chromosome, and it can cause a series of issues. From Wikipedia:

Individuals with Down syndrome tend to have a lower than average cognitive ability, often ranging from mild to moderate learning disabilities. A small number have severe to profound mental disability. The incidence of Down syndrome is estimated at 1 per 800 to 1,000 births, although these statistics are heavily influenced by the age of the mother. Other factors may also play a role.

Many of the common physical features of Down syndrome also appear in people with a standard set of chromosomes. They may include a single transverse palmar crease (a single instead of a double crease across one or both palms, also called the Simian crease), an almond shape to the eyes caused by an epicanthic fold of the eyelid, upslanting palpebral fissures, shorter limbs, poor muscle tone, a larger than normal space between the big and second toes, and protruding tongue. Health concerns for individuals with Down syndrome include a higher risk for congenital heart defects, gastroesophageal reflux disease, recurrent ear infections, obstructive sleep apnea, and thyroid dysfunctions.

Early childhood intervention, screening for common problems, medical treatment where indicated, a conducive family environment, and vocational training can improve the overall development of children with Down syndrome. Although some of the physical genetic limitations of Down syndrome cannot be overcome, education and proper care will improve quality of life.

Emphasis added.

In the “Learning disabilities world”, people are often oddly jealous of parents of down’s kids in comparison.  This sounds really weird, right?  How could that be?  Well, parents who know their child has a disability like Down’s from birth, automatically often get hooked up with advocacy groups, help and information like The National Down Syndrome Society, National Association for Down Syndrome, National Down Syndrome Congress, and others.

For parents of kids with other cognitive and even mild learning disabilities, ranging from autism to ADHD and dyslexia, their child’s disability often comes as a surprise, several years after the child is born.  Something seems off.  You wonder whether or not it’s just your imagination.  You have to be a detective, as well as assertive with practitioners to figure out what’s going on.  Too frequently, if a Mom suspects something’s wrong, they also have to deal with the fact that the knee-jerk response from many pediatricians is “wait and see- you are being too nervous.”  These disabilities are not immediately known and obvious, and often blind-side parents who have been assuming everything is just fine and dandy. This road into disability land is really rough for many people, especially for those who aren’t expecting it. But it isn’t easy for anyone, even those who know the road will be different.

Emily Perl Kingsley wrote a moving piece called “Welcome to Holland about her experience of having a child with Down’s Syndrome.  Most of the moms I know whose children have any sort of issue feel very much the same way.  The link above will take you to the piece, but I think it’s equally important to reprint it here for the purposes of this post:

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel.  It’s like this……

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy.  You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum.  The Michelangelo David.  The gondolas in Venice.  You may learn some handy phrases in Italian.  It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives.  You pack your bags and off you go.  Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy!  I’m supposed to be in Italy.  All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan.  They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease.  It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language.  And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place.  It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy.  But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there.  And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever  go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

Having a child who is different is a challenge.  It takes lots of time.  You go from doctor’s appointment to therapists to psychologists.  You have IEP meetings with teachers and educators.  You have a whole program of enrichment you need to do at home, to keep your child on track and make them successful and hopefully, eventually, independent.

This post is not supposed to be a giant pity party about the difficulties parents face when they have a child with a disability.  There’s plenty of fun and joy and laughter, but let me not delude you for a moment to say that it is a heck of a lot of work and requires a heck of a lot of time.  Then there’s the whole issue of how much siblings lose out when so much time is spent helping the child with a disability, but we’ll save that one for a different day.

While I will be one of the first people in line to be empathetic with Sarah Palin and the challenges she faces ahead of her with her son, I think she is deluding herself that she can be both a great mom to a child with a disability and the Vice President of the United States.  Heck, most moms I know have enough problems being a mom, holding a job, handling homework, and volunteering with the PTA.

Having a job like Vice President basically is a 24 x 7 type of position.  She will be required to sit in the Senate.  She will have meetings all over the world.  Yes, I have heard of nannies. But her son will require tons of care and attention, consistently, and especially during his early years, to ensure he develops to the maximum of his potential.  And I worry that being Vice President means she will miss all of that, or leave it to her other children and/or caretakers to take her place.

So many times, it’s a mom’s observation of her child and their subtle behaviors that let you know what’s normal and what’s not.  It helps clue professionals and therapists to possible treatments and underlying problems.  There’s a story in Dr. William Sears’ book The Successful Child (p.40) about how one mom knew there was a problem with a new speech therapist’s perception of what her child needed and what was wrong, and it was only through observation and being able to explain how her child was at home, that the Mom could convince the speech therapist to try something new, and that seemed to make all the difference.

I am a firm believer, that whether you are a working mom or a stay at home mom, you need to be an active part in your child’s life and you need to know them well, in order to advocate well for them.  You can’t outsource this responsibility to others- no one else has the same love and attachment for your child as you do.  I am sure Palin’s husband may take over this role if she becomes Vice President, but he won’t be able to be the baby’s mom.

Sarah Palin faces a difficult and challenging and rewarding journey ahead with her children and family.  And I have sincere doubts that both her job as a Mom to a child with a severe disability and her potential job as VP will get all the attention they deserve if she tries to do them both simultaneously.

Sarah Palin’s child is very young right now, and I don’t think she can fully appreciate the path that is laid out before her. If someone called and offered me the Vice Presidency, I would have a hard time saying no as well.  It is a once in a lifetime, career opportunity.  It could change the course of her life, and the life of our country and even the world.  Even the nomination is important. This is an uncommon situation.

But I think it would be tragic to outsource her child for the sake of this position- a childhood is something that cannot be replayed or recaptured when it is convenient, or when the term is over.  What kind of treatment and therapy this child gets over the next few years will help determine the course of the rest of his life- every expert says early intervention is key.  Is this child’s future something that should be in play?

We will see how this all plays out.  As someone who has children with relatively minor learning issues, who talks to parents who have kids with many more complex issues than mine, and who interviews experts in the field of learning and education, I can say I doubt they make a day long enough for Sarah Palin to be both Vice President of the United States and an involved mom of a child with a disability.  And for all the heroics that she may be painted with for the next 67 days, for having 5 children, including one being deployed to Iraq as well as an infant with Down’s, and the host of other merit badges that support her selection, I honestly believe she cannot yet appreciate the challenges she will face with her son.

Notes:

George Will has a son with Down Syndrome and wrote an interesting piece about it in Newsweek, wondering whether or not prenatal testing is leading too many women to choose to abort fetuses with Down Syndrome.  I do not consider any of this a debate about abortion or genetic anomalies, or anything other than the amount of time and care involved in raising children with disabilities.  There is no doubt that people with Down Syndrome can lead fine lives, but this also means having great care and loving, involved parents to make sure it happens.

Randy Alcorn also talks about his son with Down Syndrome here. Correction- this link is to an excerpt of the George Will Article in Newsweek, on Randy Alcorn’s website, and is not about Randy’s own family.

The National Down Syndrome Society talks about the need and importance of early intervention here. Some of the things a child with Down’s will need includes:

When should early intervention start?

Early Intervention should begin any time shortly after birth, and continue until the child reaches age three. The sooner early intervention begins, the better, however, it’s never too late to start. Once it is determined that your baby has Down Syndrome, you may contact your local early intervention specialist and arrange for an evaluation and assessment.

What is Early Intervention?

Based upon patterns of development, early intervention is a systematic program of physical therapy, exercise and activity designed to remedy developmental delays that may be experienced by children with Down syndrome. In many instances, the program is individualized to meet the specific needs of each child, and to help all infants and children reach growth milestones in every area of development. Early intervention helps in each of the four main areas of development: gross motor and fine motor skills, language, social development and self-help skills.

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24 Comments

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24 responses to “Sarah Palin as Vice Presidential Candidate and Mom of a Child with a Disability

  1. hj

    Why is it that when Sarah Palin is asked about her children on 2/24/08 her reply is 4 children with no mention of her 5th, is this the action of a prolifer?
    or do I have my math really confused?

  2. Great post, Whitney! As a teacher of middle school students with autism, Down Syndrome and moderate-severe cognitive disabilities I’m often the recipient of “God bless you; I don’t know how you do it”s. While my job can be demanding and intense at times, I only have the students with me 6 hours a day. I go home and still have school work to do but my responsibility for direct care and instruction of the children is done at that point.

    It’s the PARENTS who get my praise because parenting a child with significant special needs is a 24/7 job. (Early intervention is crucial!) Also, while most of us who travel to Italy are in it for roughly the 18 year trip, travelers to Holland can expect the extended tour.

  3. Interesting post. Both my sons are on the autism spectrum and I am a single parent. Their father has paranoid schizophrenia and we are part of testing and research with AGRE – autism genetic resource exchange.

    I was listening to George Will the other night on ABC, did not know he had a son with Downs, just read his newsweek article.

    So many parents of newly diagnosed kids with autism pass around the Welcome to Holland story. Not all us parents of special needs kids go thru the denial and grief.

    my sister was born with a brain tumor and after three operations in NJ became blind at age 9 or so and is now in her early 40s. My Aunt was born with one arm, my brother had spinal meningitis as a baby and my mother had toxemia when I was born, she had emergency rites in hospital and I had emergency baptism, weighed 3 lbs in 1960 and in incubator for 6 weeks. If you are around disabilities most of your life it is not a shock. My grandmother and her sister died of Alzheimers, so my kids have 50% chance of schizophrenia and I have chance of alzheimers, plus I deal with my eczema and asthma.

  4. Let’s be honest, Sarah Palin is ashamed of her deformed kid, as well she should be. I mean shouldn’t she be? Isn’t that the image that America has, that if your child is of any way disabled, you should keep it hush hush. Look at the Harry Potter kid, it took the media all this time to figure out that he has a disability, and typically the media is good at finding out celebs dirty little secrets.

  5. Hi hj, you aren’t confused- her last child, the one with down syndrome, was born in April of 2008, so in February, she had four, with one on the way.

  6. Patty

    As a single mother of two children, one with special needs, a woman can 100% have a demanding job and still be a good mother. I do it every day. Why are you focusing on this? Why is it is this day and age that a woman can’t have both a family and a career but a man can?

  7. @Patty, I totally agree a woman can have a career and a family-I do. But it gets tougher, and not easier, when you have a child with disabilities. And I would like to think that there are some jobs that take so much time, and take us so far away from the people that need us most, you have to choose what is most important to you.

    It just irks me to see a child with disabilities potentially being “outsourced” – you and I both know that a child with special needs is incredibly time consuming, especially early on, before preschool and those early school years, and parents, men and women, need to be there for them.
    A few years ago in Wilmington, DE, a mom and dad could not get any respite care for their child with multiple disabilities, so they dropped their child off at the local children’s hospital and went away on “vacation”. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E00E1DE1538F933A05751C1A96F958260&sec=health&spon=&pagewanted=all

    This caused a huge controversy, especially since the parents had sat on the Board of the Statewide disabilities council and had been appointed to the position by then Gov. Tom Ridge. Parents of kids with disabilities seemed to sympathize with this, knowing they had a 24 x 7 issue to care for children and it could be really rough.

    All I am saying is that having a child with disabilities can be a tough experience, and at the beginning, you have NO IDEA how hard it’s going to be. But knowing how hard it is going to be, I suspect that being a great Mom and Vice President simultaneously is going to be next to impossible. Let alone President.

    I wish her and her family all the luck in the world. I hope she does a great job as Governor of Alaska. But I don’t think she is ready to be Vice President or President should anything happen to McCain. And I think that’s something we all have to think about when trying to decide who to vote for in November.

  8. vintagemomcreations

    I am so glad you created this post. I just finished one myself :)
    ( very minor compared to this one.. but you’ll get the picture if you go to my blog)
    Anyway, I suppose all I have to say at this point is this.. I’m a proud mother of three children.
    I too have a son in the United States Military , he will be stationed in Turkey next month. I also have a daughter that is two years old now.. she has down syndrome. I have been blessed by the fact that she is a fighter.. and so am I. Her disability at this point in the game is very minor. She’s walking and talking and participating and doing great. BUT, she would NOT and I repeat WOULD NOT be doing as well as she is without our family teaming up together and fighting through this first two years. All the Help Me Grow Programs in the world would not have helped without mom and dad and the rest of the family fighting along with Isabel.
    During this battles, I could not run the United States of America. ( Well, I could have.. but some poor country would have probably been blown up.. lol)
    I understand this is a HUGE step for Sarah Palin.. but, she’s been sent an “angel” and is responsible for him first. Family First.
    That’s all I have to say.
    Blessings,
    Renita~vintagemomcreations

  9. rosesmama

    I believe that parenting is a matter of choice. I work with school children and see all sorts of poor parenting and have learned to bite my tongue and focus on the positive. In this case, I’m looking more at the political ramifications — can a parent of such a young child, let alone one with Downs, devote themselves to the 24/7 job of VP, or *President* (if anything should happen to McCain who would be the *oldest* president in history)? She does not believe in birth control, so what if she has another child? My fertility certainly ramped up rather than slowing down after I had a child at 41. It is her choice to be a bad parent, but our choice if we elect her as a bad national executive.

  10. Hats off to Governor Sarah Palin! Now she’s someone worth campaining for.

    -Pro-Life
    -Marriage = 1man + 1woman
    -Creationism as an option in schools
    -Cut her own salary as part of slashing budget and taxes
    -has more executive experience than Obama, Biden, and Schumer combined because those senators have never run anything.
    -Ask: “What have you done and what have you run?” If the answer is not much and nothing, the choice is obvious.

    Josiah Kuenzi,
    Dad of Dillon – Brain injury at birth causing Cerebral Palsy, Hyptonic Quadripelegia, and seizure disorder.

  11. Whitney,

    Todd Palin will have to be the primary care giver to his son. I’m sure the Palin’s have this worked out and there’s no need to speculate on their capabilities as parents.

    Dustin,

    You should be ashamed of yourself. The Palin’s are proud of Trigg. Palin is a pro-lifer who not only talks the talk but walks the walk. Palin and her husband chose to deliver her fifth child, Trigg, earlier this year even though he was prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome. Her doctor recommended abortion but Palin and her family refused. Indeed, 90% of babies with Down syndrome are aborted in the U.S. today.

    But Palin told the Anchorage Daily News in April, “We knew through early testing he would face special challenges, and we feel privileged that God would entrust us with this gift and allow us unspeakable joy as he entered our lives. We have faith that every baby is created for good purpose and has potential to make this world a better place. We are truly blessed.”

    Meanwhile, Barack Obama, actively opposed legislation as IL state senator to protect little babies with Down syndrome who had survived their abortions but were being shelved in a hospital soiled utility room to die….

    In fact, I presented my testimony 3 times before committees then-state Sen. Obama sat, describing my experience of holding a baby with Down syndrome for 45 minutes until he died who was an abortion survivor.

    Obama was unmoved and aggressively opposed the IL Born Alive Infants Protect Act.

    On the federal level NARAL expressed neutrality on identical legislation, which passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate and overwhelmingly in the U.S. House and was signed into law in 2002.

    Obama actively opposed giving babies born alive after induced abortions, including those with Down syndrome, any kind of medical treatment because they might “burden” the mother’s “original decision” (April 4, 2002, Illinois State Senate floor debate).

    Obama’s website brags about the leadership role he took to stop Born Alive.

    http://endued.wordpress.com/2008/08/29/jill-staneks-reaction-to-palin-selection/

    rosesmama, If Mrs. Palin did not believe in birth control I guarantee she would have alot more kids. Where did you get that information?

  12. T.Baker

    As the parent of a daughter with a severe disability, I’m ashamed of people using this little baby as a way to argue their ‘pr0-life’ stance. This does not belong in politics … nor should it be used to argue wedge issues and conjure up emotions to get votes. THAT is the same old politics as usual, and is EXACTLY why my wife and I are voting for Obama. Using this baby for politics is INEXCUSABLE, and any who do it should be ashamed!

    Josiah, you really should not try to argue points you are completely ignorant about. There is no ‘bragging’ about opposition to the ‘idea’ of that law — it was the stupid way in which the law was written that he was opposed to. Get a clue!

    Pathetic right wing nut jobs using a baby for political gain …. pathetic!

    So much for ‘Country First’ eh? It’s all about ‘election first’ for John McCain and the GOP .. they don’t care about the people – they care about their power, and this is a fine example of how far they will go – using a baby for political gain.

    Shameful!

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  14. alex

    No doubt that Moms are important, but why discount the capabilty of a father to care for children. Single Dads do exist and they care for their kids every bit as much single Moms.

  15. Whereas previously, a Down’s child could be born without the prior knowledge of the mother, going forward, a parent with a Down’s child will likely have made a conscious choice to have that child. As prenatal testing for trisomy 21 becomes ubiquitous, Down’s children (and eventually those with other genetic disorders) will increasingly become symbols of faith – a freak show meant to communicate the “family values” of their parents. The children will become public sacrifices made by their parents for their faith. They will be a symbol of religious reverence in the same way as the scarred backs of Catholics who flagellate themselves, or Buddhist monks who set themselves on fire, or Sunni Muslims who mutilate their girl’s genitals or Shiites who bloody their children’s heads with swords.

    Genuine moral virtues – such as integrity, honesty, and productivity are not useful as evidence of religious virtue. To the extent that their practical benefit is visible to everyone, they do not represent the special domain of religion. To demonstrate religious virtue, it is necessary to sacrifice authentic moral values in favor of “religious” values. The particular object of the sacrifice is not important – there is nothing particularly “biblical” about being prolife (the Christian bible just as easily supports the opposite position.) If Christian fundamentalists decided that cutting of one’s hand sufficed as proof of moral virtue, they would be wrong to do so, but not much more so than the numerous other ways that people find to be self-destructive.

    What is really vicious about fundamentalists in America is that the prey on the most vulnerable –poor pregnant young girls and women, those dying from painful terminal illnesses, the loved ones of brain-dead patients, — and children afflicted with terrible genetic illnesses. One can at least grasp the moral indifference with which a fundamentalist can force a single young mother to abandon her goals and dreams and condemn her and her child to poverty. But what can we say about a parent that chooses a life of suffering upon their child? If we are morally outraged by child rapists, how should we judge a parent who chooses a lifetime of suffering on their own child?

  16. ellie

    ‘If we are morally outraged by child rapists, how should we judge a parent who chooses a lifetime of suffering on their own child?’

    A perfectly well thought out, but ignorant post. Articulate, yet uneducated. You have obviously never met or had a relationship with a developmentally disabled person. They are just human debris to you. Too bad for you. And thank God for them. By the way. It’s Down Syndrome, NOT Down’s, but that is in perfect keeping with the rest of your insipid, yet flashy language.

  17. @ Ellie- I agree that Heroic is out of line with that comment.

    The valid part that he alludes to is whether we are currently mixing religion and politics, personal life choices with public personas to such an extent that there is no privacy left. Is every private decision politicians make a merit badge of their values and political points of view? What about those of their family?

    If you make the character debate a central part of who you are as a candidate for any public office, you better be prepared for people to then to second guess every choice you’ve made, to determine whether your character passes their threshold, whatever that may be.

    I worry more that we are getting so far away from the separation of Church and State, that the principals of tolerance the Country has been founded on are getting lost in the shuffle.

  18. Lisa

    Heroic….you are sick. How dare you call disabled persons a “freak show”. May you reap what you sow.
    Oh, and…Sarah Palin Rocks!!!

  19. misty

    As a mother of a son with Autism I applaud Sarah Palin for keeping her son & am excited to know that children with disabilities and their parents may finally get the assistance that they need. I’m blessed to live in Arkansas because of all the progress Mike Huckabee had made here but there is so much more that need’s to be done & national attention is what we need. Furthermore I am a CPA & I assure you that it may not always be easy but with a supportive spouse & a great family network it can be done.

    We need more politicians with understanding and not less. I would be ashamed of myself if I was given the same opportunities that she has to truly make a difference & to shirk that opportunity would be the true sign of selfishness.

  20. Jay

    Heroic, I know you. I studied under you (or your type) and other “brain dead” academics known as professors in college. You guys always seem to write endlessly run-on sentences. Humans are nothing but organisms to you, similar to all other organisms, with no soul. “Geniune moral virtues — such as integrity, honesty, and productivity” determine your worth of human beings. There is no need for the existence of anyone in your world that don’t meet the criteria according to your judgement. In your world, ending a life of a future “freak show” in the womb is a natural as the abstention of “genital mutilation” of a young girl or “bloodying of children’s heads with swords” or any other dispicable human act that you could possibly conceive. These are equal acts of human failure to you.

    My dog Maggie has all of these “moral virtues”. I am quite certain that the female stray cat that we feed outside our back door also has the qualities that you would determine have the right live…”integrity, honesty and productivity”. She certainly has these things you will be happy to know so she is safe for now.

    I am not a particularly religious person, and certainly I am a skeptic. When my son was born with Down syndrome (or Down’s child according to the less “productive” among us), I asked myself in the beginning, “why me”. I received the answer many times over again that “there is a reason for everything”, and that “you are a chosen one” to help raise a child who requires special attention, to assure that this child does not have a “lifetime of suffering” like some bloggers obviously do. Your statements obviously demonstrate that the fate of my child could have been placed in a much worse place.

    Indeed, the experience has taught me that, for a select few people, we get to experience the fact of life that true happiness is about service to other humans, and that “geniune moral virtues” are not determined by mortals…particularly those with poor grammar.

    Finally, I write this, not to demonstrate my own “family values”. My family is fine, thanks. The operative axiom here to consider would be better referred to as “human values”.

    I would not doubt your contention that there are “freak shows” in this world. You have made that all too clear. Perhaps our prenatal tests should be refocused to determine people like you in advance.

  21. Larina

    This is a very well-thought out post, much more so than my angry rant after watching her speech. I applaud her decision not to abort, but to me, this is not a pro-life or pro-choice debate. I applaud her willingness to let her husband be a stay-at-home parent–my husband was while I was working full time and in college. Women can certainly have careers. Women with children with disabilities can certainly have careers. Single parents can do a wonderful job raising any child and couples can do a terrible job. No one is debating this. For my part, if Sarah Palin was a man, I would still take issue with the way she is handling this situation. But I also know that if Sarah Palin were a man with a child with a disability, she would not have been chosen for the VP nomination.

    This family is making a conscious choice to reject an opportunity to improve the quality of life their child will have in the future. Sarah Palin is making a conscious choice to leave a very difficult job to her husband. Okay, we all make choices.

    But Sarah Palin is also using this child in the same way that big companies and organizations have been using children with disabilities for years–for personal gain. She is presumptuous at best to believe that she has the slightest idea what is ahead of her. It isn’t just about the time involved or the financial challenge, it’s about helping your child through a world that does not believe you have the ability to thrive and often does not believe you even have the right.

    The disability rights movement desperately needs an influential leader who understands what it means to live with disability every day. Sarah Palin does not have that understanding–she can’t have that understanding and she won’t if she takes on the vice presidency. She simply won’t have time.

    Frankly, anyone who thinks that any Republican can or will stand up for disability rights needs to acquaint themselves with American history. Sarah Palin can talk and talk about her love for her child, but her actions as Governor do not speak of a dedication to disability rights or special education needs or their medical needs. Her far right-wing stand and dedication to her party platform really speaks for itself. Any person who believes that “the free market will fix the health care crisis” is lacking a bit of perspective. America’s health care crisis didn’t start yesterday and as long as medical supply companies CAN charge more for a wheelchair than I paid for my car, they will. Why wouldn’t they? Any person that believes No Child Left Behind is “working” does not have a clear perspective on any education, much less special education. And how could she have that perspective? She could educate herself about these issues, but chooses not to.

    It is shameable that the Republican party would use this baby in this way. I have never voted down a party line and have always refused to register for a political party, but when the only thing I hear from our Republican candidates is “Praise me for not having an abortion. Vote for me to keep our country safe (even though we’re actually less safe now than we were 8 years ago). And hate anyone that stands up to the machine,” I have to wonder if I’ve been right all these years to think any single issue is worth voting on. I’m opposed to abortion, but I’m terrified of the extremism and self-aggrandizement I’ve seen from these two candidates.

    And by the way, when Sarah Palin gave a speech in her hometown church, she didn’t ask the youth in the audience to pray for children with disabilities or their caregivers or their educators and doctors. She asked the youth of Wasilla to pray for an Alaskan pipeline. I don’t have to wonder where her priorities are.

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