Everyone now knows President Franklin Delano Roosevelt served his presidency in a wheelchair. The ability to do so proves that no obstacle is too great to overcome. If he can become President of the United States of America while living with a handicap during a time when understanding of the handicap community was very limited, that says anything is possible.
This got me thinking: Could someone be handicapped and be President now? Would anyone be willing to vote for that person?
In FDR’s case, he hid his handicap during most his terms. Today no one would be able to hide this fact. The social media channels and 24-hour news cycles would broadcast it immediately. I would venture to think, whether that person would admit it or not, the average person would be apprehensive to vote for a person who is handicapped.
A wheelchair, braces, walkers, canes, joggled walks, muscle spasms, and anything less than a buoyant youthful physical stature denote weakness in many people’s minds. The average American probably can’t relate to living with a handicap, but consider these things:
We all have challenges. A handicapped person’s challenges are just visible for the whole world to see whereas an able body can more easily hide challenges. Personally I’d be more apt to vote for the person who admits what is challenging than the one who tries to hide it.
A person with a physical handicap has all the qualifications to run for President, and more importantly he has many skills of overcoming obstacles and dealing with adversity. The President needs to be able to roll with the punches. A President in a wheelchair can do that. Literally.
The President needs to be able to deal outside the comfort zone with all sorts of people and their personalities day-to-day in the political field. A person with a physical handicap is already doing that, communicating needs and wishes while taking other people’s opinions into account.
For the average American, if they see someone in a wheelchair in a position of power, I believe there will be a twofold effect:
First, it will bring to light the struggles of the physically handicapped. One of the major issues that handicapped people face is that our needs are not often brought to the forefront. Sure, there have been laws passed giving people with a handicap more rights, but I don’t think it’s in the forefront of people’s minds. If the President was handicapped, it would have to be. The public would see what we go through. They would see that we live differently than they do. They would see that people with a handicap have just as much to offer this world as anyone else.
What is the other major effect that having a President with a physical handicap would have on the American public? They would be inspired to do more with what they have. They would see this person and think, “If someone in a wheelchair can be in that position, I can give that extra push. I can work a little harder. I can go out there and give it my all. If he can do it, there is no reason I can’t.”
America is all about diversity. Isn’t it about time people look past what’s on the outside and start seeing the person within?
With that, to tap into us, the section of America where people rarely hear what we have to say, I would like to officially announce my candidacy for the President of the United States of America.
2024: Gimp for President!