For me, along with (I think) many other people, Wednesday’s inauguration was the first time in a while that I was able to breathe a sigh of relief. I know that to some people this might sound dramatic; and I don’t want to imply that I think all of the problems going on are going to be solved instantly just because we have a new President. But for the first time in quite a while, I am really feeling a glimmer of hope.
What the past four years have shown me is that a lot of people have the luxury of viewing politics in the abstract, but don’t really feel personally affected by them. Even people who were dismayed and/or outraged by many of Trump’s policies didn’t necessarily feel the dread that many of us felt, because those policies didn’t have a direct impact on their lives.
As someone with a disability and serious medical condition, I don’t have that luxury. There have been so many times over the last four years that I’ve been legitimately worried about what would happen to my healthcare, or to other supportive services that I receive. On the plus side, I’ve gotten more actively involved in politics during Trump’s presidency than I ever have before… but I still wouldn’t wish that level of day-to-day, underlying stress on anyone. It’s something that wears you down slowly, day by day and week by week.
Being in the midst of a global pandemic has only made this daily stress all the more terrifying. Feeling daily stress over your access to healthcare is one thing, feeling daily stress over your access over your access to healthcare while a virus that could quite literally kill you is another level. I want a leader who makes decisions to protect the most vulnerable of us, not the least – and that’s not what I’ve felt has been happening since March. Instead, we had a President who downplayed the virus after he caught and recovered from it (with, of course, quick access to the highest quality of care and treatment than many others don’t have).
So that’s why I’m excited about a new Presidential era. I’m hopeful because of the number of times disability has already been mentioned, and because of the accommodations that were put in place for the inaugural events. I’m hopeful because of the number of disabled activists he’s worked with in shaping his campaign policies. While I know there is still work to be done, and things to advocate for, it feels like we’re off to a good start.