Saturday, July 23, 2011

No More Tokens

We used to use them to ride the buses and subways. We still use them to play games in casinos and arcades. But there’s another kind of token. Instead of being metal and round, the tokens often played in life are made of flesh and blood.

Human beings aren’t supposed to be tokens. All too often, especially in politics, we see them used as such. For too long, minorities have been played for fools by liberals who are simply trying to further their own agenda of more government control over the daily lives of private citizens.

Tokenism is a dangerous thing. It creates a mindset that there are two classes of people: the players and those being played. The criteria for these categories vary, but, as discussed in this article, the tokens are people with disabilities and the players are the liberal left.

Too often, liberals will “include” people with disabilities in photo ops, campaign stops, and community outreach events in order to be able to symbolically pat themselves on the back and say, “Look at me. I am friends with everyone. I help everyone.” People with disabilities, especially the wounded heroes returning from the Middle East, are not tokens to be played in politics, but that’s how liberals treat us.

The liberal left has fooled many people with disabilities into thinking that they can’t care for themselves without government intervention. My contention is that I don’t need to be helped by the government. I am perfectly able to take care of myself. When I need help with something, I can reach out to my support system in my community, family, and church. I need a safety net, not a hammock. Unfortunately, well-meaning people promote entitlement programs that create classes of people with little ambition or self esteem. These programs make people with disabilities into hammock dwellers rather than independent citizens who contribute to society and who need a safety net only in the event that they are momentarily unable to care for themselves and have nowhere else to turn.

Quite honestly, conservatives have not really known what to do, so they have done almost nothing in order to avoid treating people as tokens. They want to behave differently from liberals, but often take it to the opposite extreme and completely ignore people with disabilities or place unrealistic expectations on them.

These differences in perspective were all too evident in the election of 2008.
One ticket pandered shamelessly to people with disabilities by saying “We love you. You don’t have to do a thing. We’ll take care of everything for you.”
The other ticket promised an advocate in the White House.

We all know what happened: The latter ticket lost, and the result was the advent of the current administration, which is no friend to people of any age with disabilities, as is evidenced by ObamaCare and other measures.

I have experienced these dynamics first hand. Recently, I was on the Hill when a Democratic congressman marched up to me, patted me on the head and said dismissively, “Aren’t you just the cutest little thing!” I bit back the angry retort on the tip of my tongue, deciding that the best way to respond to his dismissive attitude was to smile, go about my business and go about it well. A conservative I met with later that day wasn’t much better, to be honest. He was obviously uncomfortable talking to me for fear of offending me or embarrassing himself. I had an almost irresistible urge to hug him and assure him that it was okay, to just make the effort and leave my response up to me.

As a woman with a disability, what drew me to the Tea Party movement is that it truly represented a cross-section of loyal, faithful Americans and that no one was put on display simply to make a point. Trust me, I know all about tokenism and the harm it does. The Tea Party stands against tokenism. It promotes the idea that each person is responsible for making the most possible of himself or herself. It focuses on what the individual can do and on what the individual can contribute to our beloved Republic. The Tea Party teaches all citizens, disabled or not, to be their own best advocates by participating in the process as a part of “we the people.”

Every single American has something to offer this country. I am a patriot determined to restore this country to its former glory. I will simply be making that happen on wheels.

1 comment:

  1. Note: This blog post appeared as an article in the July issue of Tea Party Review.