“But It’s Different for Me!”: Why I Gave Up Conservatism

When you’re raised in a right-wing fundamentalist Christian household, it’s easy to become right-wing yourself. Doubly easy when your experience with the government is exclusively terrible. Police, at the behest of some whiny Karen neighbor, harassing your family because your wheelchair ramp violates her fragile sense of aesthetics. A public school that is supposedly obligated by law to follow your IEP slow walks following it.

It can be easy to become jaded with the government. What changed for me? How did I go from a right-winger to FDR Democrat? I simply found myself saying one phrase way too much:

“But It’s Different for ME!”

If you’re disabled and your parents aren’t rich enough to have yachts within yachts, there is a high probability that you’ll be needing some form of help from the Federal government.

The ritzy private schools aren’t risking the big average GPA they boast about by taking on kids with learning disorders. Nor will the ritzy Christian school be doing major renovations to their 150-year-old building to make it wheelchair-accessible. So unless your parents have the financial ability to homeschool you, you’ll be going to public school. A public school is required by the Federal government to educate disabled students.

And mind you, state and local governments do not like having to educate disabled students. Yes, even the ones that market themselves as tolerant utopias of progressive enlightenment. All schools would much rather use special education money on frivolities for able-bodied kids (high-tech scoreboards in the gym, trips to Disneyworld, etc.) than special education.

But the Feds say that special education comes first.

Now typically, a conservative would say that locals should decide how their schools are run, regardless of the consequences. But many disabled and conservative special needs parents are more than happy to carve out an exception for themselves. After all, it’s “different” for the Feds to intervene on their behalf.

Government Should Stay out of Healthcare… Unless It’s Mine

A common conservative argument is that government should not be involved in healthcare. If private insurers decide not to insure disabled people, as they often did before (and would certainly do again), private charity will mystically rise up out of the void to handle the problem.

Except for the cases when it doesn’t, AKA most of the time. Most GoFundMe fundraisers fail. Most churches are eitherbarely treading water or are wasting money on jetplanes so they’re not helping much outside of spaghetti dinners in the basement. And the majority of non-profits dedicated to illnesses are really dedicated to vaguely“raising awareness” with star-studded ad campaigns, painting products random colors, and expensive galas rather than doing anything that could be remotely construed as useful.

So when disabled people/special needs parents get that magic doctor’s visit and learn they have a condition that the private sector will not cover or will impair their ability to work, they’ll end up dancing around their beliefs the same way I did.

They’ll say it’s “different” for them to be on Medicaid. They’re “deserving.” They’re not like “those people” when they get SSI. They think that they’ll be exempted from any bad policy because they’re “the exception.” And they’ll carve out every exemption to their beliefs that they can.

But when you’re exempting yourself from a large portion of your politics, they’re not exactly great politics.

That was my first epiphany.

My second one was that contrary to the popular belief of many special needs parents I know….

The Far-Right Doesn’t Give Exemptions

No matter how many times you say it’s “different” for the Federal government to help you/your disabled child, no matter how many times you say you and yours won’t be put on the chopping block because you are “really deserving,” you won’t get exempted from your policies. In the world of the far-right that currently controls the Republican Party, there are no exemptions.

How many times have we seen conservatives scream about dismantling the Federal government for various philosophical reasons? A lot. You know how many of them add a caveat for disabled and elderly people who need things like Medicaid? Zero. How many would preserve special education mandates? Zero. At absolute best, they might plan to phase out those things and offer up a vision of a fantastical dream world where philanthropy would fill the void but not offer a practical solution if/when philanthropy proves to be a failure. At wort, they’d just tell you to kick rocks and brag about how “politically incorrect” they are.

If they had those caveats, they’d be shouting them from the rooftops.

Now I know that some of you special needs parents and disabled people don’t want to vote based on how disability policy affects you. You want to put that at the bottom of your list. You want to be patriotic and put the country first.

I get it. Been there, done that.

But let me explain something. There are a lot of pro-life women in Texas right now who agree with the notion that there should be exemptions for things like rape, incest, and to protect the health of the mother. And they voted for some bombastic anti-abortion politicians who campaigned on “No abortion ever.” Those women thought the people they voted for would mellow out.

They didn’t. Now those women who were counting on exemptions are in the world of “no abortion ever.”

Don’t think that these people who openly say they want to dismantle anything that helps disabled people and special needs parents will give you an exemption.

The far-right doesn’t give exemptions.