POLITICS

Disability Advocates Express Joy After Biden Name-Checks Them With Important Word

In President-elect Biden's victory speech, advocates recognized a word he used that draws a stark contrast between him and Trump, who had mocked them.

On Saturday night and through Sunday morning, President-elect Joe Biden was praised by members and advocates of the disabled community who celebrated the reference to “disability” in his victory speech. 

“We must make the promise of the country real for everybody — no matter their race, their ethnicity, their faith, their identity or their disability,” the president-elect said Saturday night in Wilmington, Delaware. 

To some, Biden’s reference marked a stark contrast to President Donald Trump, a vocal opponent of health science whose list of ableist behaviors includes mocking a disabled reporter in 2016 and instituting policies that made it difficult for disabled immigrants to receive vital health benefits

On social media, disabled activists and allies to the movement instantly took note of Biden’s call for them to be afforded equal opportunity, and many used the hashtag #CripTheVote in reference to the years-long campaign to realize the disabled community as a critical voting bloc. Many observers noted it was their first time hearing a president reference the disabled community so specifically, and many credited Biden’s national disability engagement director, Molly Doris-Pierce, for emphasizing the community’s needs to the campaign.

On Saturday, Doris-Pierce was among thousands who celebrated both Biden’s acknowledgment and the ensuing momentum that came when CNN host Jake Tapper referenced #CripTheVote in news coverage following Biden’s speech. 

People with disabilities make up “the nation’s largest minority,” accounting for roughly 50 million Americans, according to the Department of Labor. While many activists urged cautious optimism and encouraged others to apply continuous pressure to the Biden administration, the overwhelming response from advocacy groups and people with disabilities toward his remarks suggest many see far greater opportunity for progress under Biden than would have been possible with the outgoing president.