Observations From Below: Covfefe

05/31/2017 05:13 pm ET Updated Jun 01, 2017

 I’ll be open to you all and to say that Health Care advocacy has taken a lot out of me. It’s drained my fortitude and changed my perspective in certain ways. I used to think that Medicaid would be safe from any reductions that might be proposed. The one thing that President Trump said about Medicaid during his campaign, posted on his official website is, “I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican, and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.” I feel that we should be protected because people have paid into the program for what seems to be an eternity. Both Republicans and Democrats have said that people with disabilities need access to that program, but still there’s a huge cut in both Trump’s proposed budget and the ACHA in the House. If passed, that would equate to over a combined TRILLION dollar cut over the next decade. I’m not the only one that is stressed right now, as I’ve noticed a lot of my various social media groups have become much more partisan than they used to be. Liberal disability advocates are starting to blame their conservative contemporaries, which only adds to our collective stress.

To escape this downward spiral, I recently went to a local Single A baseball game, featuring the Winston-Salem Dash. They lost, but I still had a reassuring experience that I would like to talk about. My PCA, Dave and I were sitting under the awning next to a group of individuals of who seemed to need wheelchairs/help. It’s not long after we settled in, that a woman sat down beside us and offered us some apples and hot dogs as if we were part of their group. This action was extremely kind because I had no connection to the group, other than I was in a wheelchair like most of their patrons. Dave and I found out that the group was from Monarch, a local organization that serves people with I/DD. This made my newfound baseball neighbor’s actions make much more sense, and I’m grateful for her benevolence. Unfortunately, we never exchanged names, so I’ll never be able to reach out to her. This reminded me of a lesson that I’ve read a lot about of in books, due to my interest in positive psychology. It sounds simple, but acts of kindness have a positive impact on both the giver and the receiver, especially if that act is random. During a time of stress, which my community finds itself in right now, it’s more important to be kind to one another.

Given the two proposals that reduce Medicaid/Medicare/Social Security, we are probably entering a time where there is going to be less government help to provide services. I’m calling on fellow self-advocates to stop fighting, and be as respectful as possible. You do catch more flies with honey than vinegar, as the saying goes. We’re going to need to work together across party lines more than ever. The fact that disability is nonpartisan has always been a strength that we’ve had, and I don’t want to lose that due to the rigorous climate of politics at this moment.

Another reason we need to be kind is that we need to create safe spaces in which people can share their personal stories. I’ve been told by multiple policy professionals affiliated with different groups, that personal anecdotes backed up by factual accounts are the most persuasive tools we have. If we continue down this mean path, shy advocates (like I used to be) might hesitate to share their testimony, thus snowballing into an avalanche of bad policy. You might have seen that I shared my story with the Arc of the United States. I would like to close this blog by encouraging more people to come forward. Whether you believe it or not, we are making a difference. Here is the link to my Arc video: https://vimeo.com/215723453

That’s how covfefe rolls…….

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