Tuesday, September 09, 2008

choosing my advocate

In case you were wondering, I'm amazingly unimpressed by Palin. Did you expect anything else?
I'm not going to bother with her here, but I'll run you through the short version. Nice to see a woman on a ticket (again), nice to see a mom on the ticket, although I could do without the Bush deja vu that she's inspiring.

More relevant to me - and to the blog is that she's also a new special needs mom, and is offering to be my advocate in the White House. Okay, pause for a brief inhale and exhale.

It's a sweet offer, but can I say no thanks? She has a four month old baby with a diagnosis. Now, all credit to her for having that baby, but the kid is four months old. Which makes her, as a diagnosis-mom, four months on the job. She knows nothing yet about advocacy, although she may learn, if she leaves that cushy government job and scrabbles with the rest of us. Right now, she knows only diapers-worth about special needs, and I wouldn't choose any new diagnosis mom for the job of advocate. Hells bells, I remember how I was when the Eldest was four month old - who wants that blithering mess as an advocate? In about six years, when she's been talking to schools about mainstream vs special ed, pull in or push out programs, well, then I'll be interested in hearing from her. (But then again, considering her ideas about controlling the flow of ideas and books and choices and the environment, maybe not.)

Advocacy is a negotiation that works to shape the available resources to the needs of the community and individual. That means extensive awareness of the resources (she has staffers for that), and the needs of the community, not to mention how they vary by individual. Alas, at this point, Palin has staffers for that, too. And should she continue on the campaign trail - and I'd not tell her to back away from it - the demands of the campaign mean that she will not be Trig's primary advocate and caregiver. When will she spend hours watching Trig develop? Tracking his needs and meeting them? A campaign is gruelling, physically, mentally and emotionally - being a full time mom just can't happen at the same time. So when will she learn? I can only try and judge by her track record as to whether she'll be a caring influence in Washington, and her track record scares me. Cutting money to pregnant teens? Carelessness about environmental issues? Looking at the checks that she cut for Alaskans, taken from the state gas taxes, I wonder how much of that is caring for the little guy, and how much is a showy, teeth baring at Big Business. I don't know.

Honestly, she scares me. Anyone who thinks that she knows enough to limit another's choices or the range of knowledge that they are taught (and did I hear something about banning books while mayor?), has altogether too much certainty to accept the quirks, or shades of gray that come with an individual's needs. There's a reason that the autism ribbon is a patchwork - there's no telling exactly where a diagnosis can tell you. No black and white there, just a shifting array of needs. Can an absolutely certain person accept this uncertainty?

It's certainly worth something to the GOP to have her look like she can. The disability vote is not entirely insignificant. Mothers and fathers of children with asthma, food allergy, autism, diabetes, attention deficit disorders - these are so amazingly common nowadays, and that's not even counting the rarer, and variously well-organized groups, like bleeding disorders. We're a nice slice of the voter pie, people. Can Palin buy us? Through our endorsements, can she buy enough sympathetic, non-diagnosis voters? How easy are we going to be on this date?

If I voted - and again, I'm just kibbitzing here - my price tag would be details. Someone who has thought enough to have generalities that show they understand the needs of a community - mine, others, whatever - and has enough specifics to let me evaluate how much of this thought is solid and how much of it is airy promise. Trust slowly. Walk away from the cute baby and nice image, and look for what happens after the voting is over. Is this what happens? It's going to take something astonishing to avoid that, and more of that. Private insurance is failing, and pushing the expensive folks out and towards the range of backup, government run plans. Which are unprepared for folks like mine. So.

Cards on the table, I've been looking at Obama's healthcare plan. Wet behind those sticky-out ears he might be, but that plan has the potential to protect my family - and others - from those tiered drug plans that are currently rolling my way. Or those insidiuous little dodges that are going to save the insurance some cash, by taking it out of my pocket. My insurance provider just suggested that we pay 20% of our factor costs, having decided that my HTC's factor program, run by a major hospital, is somehow out of network.

Hello? An entire major medical research and teaching hospital is out of network? Can't be that the place is too small - it's huge - or insufficiently reputable (Hahvahd would be soooo ticked). It's not like you can't walk from the insurer's MA office to the hospital, right? Right. Then again, they're refusing also to pay for my recent mammogram, and let me tell ya, a woman my age does not have a mammogram because it's fun and there's nothing good on the blog that day. Oh, no. Little dodges. Big cost to me.

Yep. If I were a single issue voter, I'd be voting for the guy - or gal - with the best health care plan. Happily, as I'm not a single issue voter (or kibbitzer), I note that with a good health care plan comes also a sense of awareness of the life of people outside of the golden parachute.

But enough about that. Life is inching imperfectly forwards here, as the Toddles starts preschool and the Eldest slips smoothly into first grade. Forget politics, and it's crafted, argued soundbites. Let's talk school, hmm?


Rachel L. said...

Wow, that was much more thoughtful and well reasoned (and calm) than anything that's come out my mouth recently about Sarah Palin. Well said.

And, when you hear that enraged yet inarticulate shouting from across the river as her soundbites play endlessly on tv and radio, well, that's me...

Penny L. Richards said...

I'm adding this link over at DS,TU, and I also want to thank you for a fabulous comment there. You're saying a great deal here, thank you for this.

J.G. Fellow said...

I'm with Palin: Evolution is for the birds. I mean dinosaurs. I mean it's not for the dinosaurs! There were no dinosaurs! So I guess there aren't any birds. Wait. What was I saying?

Miryam (mama o' the matrices) said...

Thanks, Penny. I'm enjoying DS,TU also!

j.g., my poor darlin' - come home from the office. I'll explain birds to you. And possibly bees. (clearly, work can be an unhealthy business)

Rachel L., thanks! Happy to roar back over the river in sympathy...

Rixblix said...

I thought/think exactly the same thing, Mama. You and I both know she's nowhere near accepting and dealing with her child's diagnosis and what it will mean for her family.