Three for Three: All the Candidates Disappointed
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Saturday night’s Democratic debate on foreign policy; traditionally, national defense is considered the forte of Republicans. Indeed, I don’t think the candidates – Sanders, Clinton, and O’Malley – quite knew what they were saying, either. It made for some disheartening entertainment.
Early into the evening, moderator Martha Raddatz indicated that the majority of Americans believe arming themselves is the best defense against terrorism. The three candidates shouted over each other, railing that they had the best gun control policies. (Yes, even as Americans are going out in droves to purchase personal firearms.) O’Malley vociferously attacked the records of Clinton and Sanders, digging into their “flip-flopping, political approach” and claiming he would prevent Americans from buying certain weapons.
The irony came a few minutes later when Raddatz asked O’Malley the appropriate place to “draw the line between national security and personal security.” O’Malley answered, “I believe that we should … never give up our freedoms in exchange for a promise of security.” As a fellow attorney, my mind is boggled that he passed Constitutional Law without ever hearing of the Second Amendment.
And that wasn’t the only doublespeak of the night. After candidates ran out of steam on the national security front, the conversation changed to domestic policy. Each candidate presented a plan to reduce the cost of higher education tuition billed to students. All touted the importance higher education. A few minutes later, moderator David Muir raised the issue of heroin addiction. Clinton stated that politicians “need to do more about the prescribing end of it. There are too many opioids being prescribed, and that leads directly now to heroin addiction.” So, even though physicians have undergone years of medical school and residency, their education is worthless in the face of politicians’ whims?
The issue of opioids is personal to me. Two days after my ninth birthday, I had had rods placed in my back to correct my scoliosis. Twenty years after the placement of the rods, my back began collapsing again, squishing my rib cage. I’ve seen three orthopedists and two physiatrists who agree that nothing can be done. On top of that, my muscles are so weak that my shoulders hang from their sockets and my hips pop in and out of theirs on a regular basis. It hurts. After weighing the options, I decided that opioids were worth trying.
Since my pain med regimen began, I am able to get my mind off the pain and back on work. I’m sure that many other people legitimately use opioids as I do, and I am sick of having to go through ridiculous loopholes in order to get the treatment we need. For example, starting last year, my doctor could no longer call in opioid prescriptions to the pharmacy. This means I have to carefully anticipate when I will run out of medicine because it takes two weeks before a replacement script arrives at my mailbox. The last time I visited the doctor, she felt bad asking me to sign an opioid contract, agreeing to be pee tested at will and getting my medicine from her only. That Democrats are willing to push these barriers even further on individuals that legitimately need opioids again puzzled me.
Still, the candidates had ample opportunities to impress me:
Sanders and Clinton talked about raising the minimum wage. Yet none of them mentioned the wages of people in sheltered workshops. None of them talked about the ridiculously low labor participation rate amongst people with disabilities.
Each of the candidates talked about drug addiction and mental health treatment. Yet none of them mentioned that Suboxone can generally be prescribed by family physicians, meaning that those seeking treatment have no reason to visit segregated mental health centers.
Each of the candidates discussed healthcare. Yet none of them mentioned comprehensive long-term care reform. Even when they discussed increased access to care, they failed to talk about how people using paratransit can’t visit Medicaid doctors when none practice within their county and few with mobility impairments can access medical diagnostic equipment.
I expected the candidates to disappoint on national security; I didn’t expect them to disappoint entirely. I encourage anyone who reads this to get in touch with your local party chairman and push for recognition of disability issues. It’s going to be my resolution for 2016.
Contact: Emily Munson