by Jalees Rehman
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over a billion people live with some form of disability, expressed as impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. Disabilities are often manifestations of health conditions and as such, people suffering from disabilities not only require general medical care such as immunizations and preventive screenings but also need additional care to address the underlying health conditions. According to the WHO, people with disabilities are far more likely to suffer catastrophic health expenditures and receive inadequate medical care than people without disabilities. In addition to the medical and financial challenges, people with disabilities are often isolated and marginalized in society. The lack of political participation by people with disabilities in politics is especially concerning because it sets in motion a vicious cycle of marginalization. If the voices of people with disabilities are not adequately represented in the political arena, then it becomes less likely that governmental measures are taken to ensure adequate medical care and social integration of people with disabilities.
The researchers Lisa Schur and Meera Adya recently studied the political participation of people with disabilities in the United States in their article Sidelined or Mainstreamed? Political Participation and Attitudes of People with Disabilities in the United States. They used data from four US surveys: the 2008 and 2010 Current Population Surveys (CPS), the 2006 General Social Survey (GSS), and the 2007 Maxwell Poll on Citizenship and Inequality. The surveys ask respondents whether they suffer from distinct forms of impairment such as visual, hearing, mental-cognitive or mobility. There were 12,027 people in the 2008 CPS and 12,064 people in the 2010 who answered yes to at least one of the disability questions. The large sample size of CPS and the inclusion of a “voting supplement” in the CPS during even-numbered years allowed the researchers to study the extent of political participation by people with disabilities. Read more »
by Ali Minai
It is only the fall of 2015, and the United States is already in the grip of the Presidential campaign for an election that is still more than a year away. Since the emergence of 24-hour news, and especially with the explosive growth in social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, each successive American election cycle has become increasingly like a reality TV spectacle rather than a serious political event, culminating in the current ascendancy of an actual reality TV figure – Donald Trump – as the leading candidate from the party of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. Millions are now watching Presidential debates purely for their entertainment value, and the American political system appears to have become a joke. But, of course, appearances are deceptive in this case. Anyone who pays attention to events around the globe understands that electing the leadership of the world's only superpower is extremely serious business with global consequences. And this is arguably more true today than at any time in history – even during the World Wars and the Cold War – because, while those challenges were dire and existential, the problems the world faces today are no less serious but even more complex. These problems – climate change, demographic and socioeconomic imbalances, the rise of jihadist militancy, mass migrations, etc. – all are, to a large extent, products of our hyperconnected, supercharged, always-on brave new world powered by the relentless march of technology towards ever higher activity, productivity, and connectivity. All of them, without exception, can be addressed only with global strategies, and not through piecemeal policy-making by national governments. But, at precisely this delicate moment, the world finds itself paralyzed with petty rivalries and feckless indecision. A lot of this is simply the inescapable product of history, but it is impossible to deny that increasing political dysfunction in the United States is a major risk factor for the many potential catastrophes staring us in the face. Anyone concerned about these dangers should care deeply about the political system of the United States and its prospects of recovery from its current funk.
Read more »