Well so much for planning ahead for my first LINKS article as the President of ANCOR. Given our election surprise, predicted by none of the polls, we find ourselves adjusting to a “new” political landscape. How new and how different remains to be seen, but the typical transition plans and predictability seem to have been replaced with a ‘wait and see’ posture as cabinet members and other leaders are identified by the new administration. Policy positions are shifting as ANCOR members and advocates identify emerging ideas from President-Elect Trump’s advisors that will translate into sustained or new directions for CMS, HHS, DOL or numerous other agencies.
As a trade association, ANCOR has always been bipartisan, maintaining meaningful relationships with Democratic and Republican legislators, educating, advocating and influencing policies and regulations at the federal level. Those efforts continue and our issues related to people with disabilities have only grown in importance as we educate this new administration.
I believe there are many people who are afraid today, including some parents of people with disabilities, and, if we are honest, even some of us are afraid of this new reality. In the Old Testament, there is a story about Esther, a woman who had the opportunity to advocate for her people using her position with the King. The often heard quote from that story is “perhaps you were born for such a time as this”. I have thought about that quote in the past few days as we face this time in history. How will our society treat people with disabilities, what will be the emerging social policy, funding practices, inclusion opportunities and options for employment? Will our staff have access to a living wage and affordable health care? I believe that is, in large part, up to us.
As long-time advocates, we know that political parties change, but our vision for meaningful lives for people with disabilities remains the same, and our commitment to working toward this desired future is renewed with each change in administration. No matter my personal political beliefs, my devotion to the cause of inclusion has not waivered and I look forward to ANCOR’s activities over the next 4 years that will build on our history of successful advocacy for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Angela King is CEO of Volunteers of America Texas and ANCOR's Board President. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.