Letter to the Editor: Addressing disability claims against presidential candidates

By: Nic Koski in collaboration with TU’s Disability Student Union
Photo Courtesy of West Point on Flickr Creative Commons

To the Editor: 

A recent opinion article published in The Towerlight argued that Joe Biden is not fit to be president since he “shows signs of dementia” regarding his memory and stutter. Disqualifying a candidate for public office based on disability or mental health is nothing new, and we strongly condemn this ableist rhetoric. 

While people without any relevant credentials recklessly speculate about Biden’s mental health, they do further harm to the disabled community by reinforcing negative stereotypes about what we can and can’t do. Disabled people can perform just as well as non-disabled people in government positions, and many could probably do a much better job than our current president. The greatest barriers for disabled people are oftentimes the stigma and lack of accommodations more so than anything else. 

Although Donald Trump himself is certainly at fault for adding to this damage against the disabled community, we must also condemn the ableist language used against him. We don’t need an armchair diagnosis to understand Trump’s ignorance and failures as a president. Simply saying that an opposing candidate is “mentally ill,” “delusional,” or “losing their mind” only adds to the stigma against disabled people and fails to address real problems. 

As the time for elections draws closer, future criticisms of either candidate need to stop throwing disabled people under the bus for political gain. 

 

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