Thursday, September 29, 2016

#CripTheVote - Tim Kaine reads a letter from Mike Phillips

As folks know, I've been writing a lot about the Clinton campaign's robust engagement with disability rights. Hillary Clinton has run the most progressive, most inclusive, campaign on disability rights in American presidential history. That doesn't mean she - and the movement - doesn't have a lot of room to grow. But for me, part of my activism is celebrating victories to motivate me for the next struggle.

Above is a tweet from CNN reporter Betsy Klein showing three pictures, with the caption ".@timkaine met campaign volunteer Mike Phillips today in FL. He has spinal muscular atrophy. Kaine choked up reading the letter he wrote him."

  • The first is a video of what looks like a wheelchair at the base of the stairs leading up to the Clinton/Kaine plane.
  • The second is Kaine standing at the podium, Phillips' letter in his hand, reading. 
  • The third is the transcript, which I'll replicate below.
The transcript reads:

12:19:32 There's a really wonderful guy from Tampa named Mike PHillips He's quite an interesting young guy, he severely, has a severe disability, but he said look, that ain't limiting me. That's not limiting me. And he's become an expert in working with Apple and other companies to develop assistive technologies that will help people in their home, in their school, in their workplace. And he has developed amazing technologies, and he and his mom came out to meet with me and, on the subject, he gave me something, and I didn't tell him I was going to do this, but I was reading it as I was driving over, I just thought I would read it to you. Because this is about a community of respect, this is who we want to be. This is from Mike Phillips.

12:20:12 [reads letter] Sen. Kaine, it's an honor to meet you. You are part of a very unique campaign. It's one that I always hoped to see [chokes up] You and Secretary Clinton are running a presidential campaign that consistently talks about people with disabilities. You have actual disability policy written. I have been waiting my entire voting life for candidates like you and Secretary Clinton, candidates who know about and care about disability issues. I really believe that the federal government is America's heart. It steps in to right America's wrongs. Slavery, desegregation, women's rights, LGBT rights ... the federal government stepping in and doing what was right. And I hope that you and Sec. Clinton will push disability rights forward. I hope you work to end the false perception that we're broken, that we're less than. I never wanted to not be disabled. I wouldn't be me otherwise. I simply want the tools to, as a fine Methodist lady once put it, live up to my God-given potential. That's all anyone wants, really. Some just need help accessing those tools. I'm glad for you and Sec. Clinton this election cycle because I know you're fighting for us, all Americans including Americans who have disabilities.

12:21:19 Man, that gives me some energy. That's what the campaign is about. We're stronger together.

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Many things to love about that letter, but among them, I cherish Phillips' assertion of a progressive philosophy of government designed to create equality of opportunity. 


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