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On Politics & Autism: Presidential Style

  • Posted on April 18, 2012 at 8:35 AM

I have a great deal of respect for President Obama.  He is the most dignified person we’ve had in the Oval Office is my life time.  From everything I’ve seen, he’s a good man.

His accomplishments in regards to autism are, in my opinion, mixed, reflecting the mix we see in the greater autism community.

One example is the reauthorization of the Autism Act, which is a start but doesn’t do enough for those living with autism versus those researching autism.

Another example is World Autism Awareness Day, which sends a more positive, people-oriented message.

In regards to fiscal matters and the scope of government, I lean much more towards the conservative.  While I do not affiliate myself with any party, I vote for Republicans more often than Democrats.  (I prefer candidates who challenge the two-party dichotomy without going to the political fringes, but they are unfortunately rare at the state-wide or federal level.)

It’s like this:  Big government, overregulation, and elaborate social support systems don’t work.  They don’t produce a strong economy, a safe and prosperous populace, or social equality (three of the responsibilities I attribute to a federal-level government).  Ineffectual government, underregulation, and inadequate social support systems don’t work.  They don’t produce a strong economy, a safe and prosperous populace, or social equality.  Jumping back and forth between these two extremes doesn’t work, either.

It is my hope that the “flip-flopping” Mitt Romney would strike a moderate balance that blends the best of the liberal with the best of the conservative to produce something that might bring us closer to achieving those three goals.  Thus, my vote is Mitt’s to lose, assuming he actually wins the Republican nomination.

But autism is a big part of my life and social equity is a big part of what I expect from the federal government.  So, this worries me:

 (See this article for more information.)

Supporting research is all fine and good.  Putting the research decisions in the hands of the scientists (with appropriate checks and balances, which would be a key issue) might be fine, and certainly would be better than having politics drive researching decisions.  But autism isn’t a science, it’s a disability.  Autism isn’t a disease (Ron Paul’s video), it’s a difference.  It affects people.  These people are alive and living now.  And they need support.

As the sitting President, Obama has the advantage.  I don’t expect any candidate to be fully versed on all the issues that are thrown their way.  Much of the “common knowledge” about autism is, unfortunately, the drive for research.  President Obama has the advantage of needing to be better informed in order to make the decisions he’s made.  But still, Romney has to show the willingness to be informed.  This is promising, but is it enough?