The Barriers to Politics Involvement for People With Disabilities
Politics is an ever-changing system of societal arrangements based on power and authority. Politics has been present since history began and it has always been in existence as a way for groups of people to understand their relationship to others. Humans have always been involved in politics as a way for them to identify and define their place in society. The word politics literally means the struggle of life.
Politics has been viewed since the time of the ancient Greek and Roman Greeks, as a way for groups of people to understand their relationship to one another and place their place in the society. Politics is the establishment of political processes through civic institutions to enable groups of people to interact with each other and define their rights and responsibilities. Politics has been considered as a force that binds the world together. It has always been a source of conflict between peoples and has always been one of the most discussed topics among civilizations.
Over the years disability and politics have formed a strange but interesting relationship. As the concept of disability became more recognized and understood, politicians began drafting many disability-based civil rights bills. The inclusion of disability in the political system was never very popular among Americans, and there were very few politicians willing to push for the inclusion of disabilities in the political system. There were no disability-specific political candidates during the history of American politics, but some prominent politicians did support the inclusion of disabilities in the political system; however, they never gained enough support among voters to win the election.
As the vision of a truly inclusive and integrated disability policy developed, disability-specific political candidates began to appear on the scene. The inclusion of disabilities in the political processes helped lift up issues regarding disability discrimination. Slowly but surely the barriers to entry for politics became less. Today the American polity is a much more tolerant and accepting place for people with disabilities.
In the past, disability was a major barrier to entry in politics. This problem was highlighted in the nineteenth century by the rise of the Industrial Revolution. Many people with physical or mental disabilities were excluded from white collar jobs that offered great wealth. Some regions of the country were even notoriously exclusionary; e.g. Mississippi.
As the industrial revolution gave rise to a need for skilled work, there was a massive movement for better wages and improved living conditions. During this time, many regions of the country experienced a population growth due to immigration. In response, there was an unprecedented increase in the number of people with disabilities. Because many of these people were physically or mentally impaired, many were placed in labor-intensive positions where they suffered from serious disabilities. The result was a large segment of the labor force was made up of disabled people who had little political participation. The result of this was a segment of the population that was severely disadvantaged by the presence of these people.
It was not until later, following the passage of the Rehabilitation Act that the rights of people with disabilities were recognized. Today, anyone with a physical or mental disability is entitled to make decisions about their own welfare. With this right, they can determine to either be a full time or part time user of goods and services or they can decide to limit their political participation. There are many people with disabilities who either live on a fixed income, receive aid through the disability act, or are disabled and eligible to receive aid through the social security system.
Unfortunately, these rights are not enjoyed equally throughout the world. Politicians in many countries, despite recognizing the rights of people with disabilities, impede their access to public amenities such as health care and education. In addition to this, there are many countries that refuse to recognize the right of people with disabilities to participate in politics. In countries where politics play a prominent role, individuals with a disability are prohibited from standing as candidates or being elected to local government positions. As a result, people with developmental disabilities remain deprived of their right to be involved in the shaping of their country.