The Disability Caucus: Fighting for inclusion

Eric Donat: “It’s important for inclusion to show people with disabilities in all possible roles – not just in disability-specific ones.” -promoted by Laura Belin

I’m excited to be part of the new leadership on The Iowa Democratic Party Disability Caucus as vice chair. I am Eric Donat of Waterloo and Black Hawk County.

I got my start in politics through advocacy training at the Center for Independent Living in Waterloo, Iowans with Disabilities in Action, and the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council. Consumers at the center were connected to state legislators via our work on systems change advocacy.

Through being an advocate, I supported legislation making it easier for people with disabilities, particularly those using wheelchairs, to travel about in their communities. I also supported reorganizing Iowa’s counties into today’s mental health service regions. In addition, I advocated against privatizing Medicaid in Iowa.

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Iowa's Planned Parenthood affiliate rejects Margaret Sanger's harmful ideas

“We are owning our organization’s history and are committed to addressing the implicit bias and structural racism within our organization and communities,” Planned Parenthood North Central States declared on July 24, near the top of a statement denouncing racist and eugenicist ideas espoused by Margaret Sanger. Formed in 2018 when Planned Parenthood of the Heartland merged with a neighboring organization, the affiliate operates 29 clinics in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Many who believe in Planned Parenthood’s mission–especially the white women who have been the majority of the organization’s volunteers in Iowa–know little about Sanger other than that she established the country’s first birth control clinic. Although I’m a third-generation supporter of Planned Parenthood in Iowa, I was ignorant about Sanger’s eugenicist views for much of my adult life. Those views were repugnant, and it’s important for reproductive rights advocates to be clear about rejecting them.

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Only absentee ballots can solve the Iowa caucuses' two biggest problems

Part 2 in a series on how the Iowa caucuses work

I’ve written a short book’s worth of posts since 2007 on obstacles to attending the Iowa caucuses (see here, here, and here).

Over the same period, John Deeth has written extensively about overcrowded rooms in high-turnout precincts (see here and here).

The Iowa Democratic Party has tried to address both problems this cycle. Even so, many thousands of politically engaged Iowans will be unable to participate tonight. At the same time, Iowans mobilized by several well-organized campaigns will make many precinct caucuses extremely difficult to manage (not to mention fire hazards) in larger counties and college towns.

If we are to remain first in future presidential nominating contests, Democrats must take the obvious step toward making the Iowa caucuses accessible to all and less of a logistical nightmare.

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Deadline approaching to request accommodation for Iowa caucuses

When the Democratic National Committee nixed the “virtual caucus” plan, they destroyed any possibility of Iowans with disabilities participating in the February 3 caucuses by phone. Nevertheless, the Iowa Democratic Party is trying to make the in-person caucuses more accessible than in the past.

Democratic county party organizations have long been encouraged to arrange for precinct caucuses to be held at facilities that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, that doesn’t eliminate all barriers that might keep someone from fully participating in the first step of the presidential nominating process.

For the first time this year, Iowa Democrats can submit a request for accommodation at their precinct caucuses.

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