I can barely believe that Secretary of Education Betsy Devos has proposed, as part of President Trump’s new (months late) budget, to end ALL funding to the Special Olympics. Not just a trim, but an absolute end.
Before Eunice Shriver created the Special Olympics in 1968, kids like my kid were just retards to be hidden from the world. The Special Olympics proved that there is a place for them to shine. And that led to other such things. But the Special Olympics is still the alpha-event to prove that kids like my kid shouldn’t just live in a closet and shut up.
Let me clarify: the Paralympics are for people with physical disabilities. They’re connected to the regular Olympics (they tend to take place in the same city, right afterward). The Special Olympics is for the mentally disabled, and does not have that same relationship with the regular Olympics. It needs funding.
I live on Eunice Street. I find myself thinking about Eunice Shriver almost every time I see my own street sign. We can talk back and forth about the Kennedys’ legacy, but around the world, Eunice Shriver’s establishment of the Special Olympics is considered an unalloyed good. You might as well argue with Gandhi’s salt march while you’re at it.
Why do Republicans engage in this naked cruelty to society’s most vulnerable?
I’ll tell you why they don’t do it. It’s not ideology, not exactly. If ending the Special Olympics was really something that they were proud of, one of them would have mentioned it on their campaign websites. You know how many campaign websites there were/are? Just to come up with a low number, count one for every single Republican who ran for the 435 House seats and 100 Senate seats (over the last six years), and seventeen more from the seventeen Republicans who ran for President in 2016. That’s 552 websites. Go ahead. Find ONE that mentions the Special Olympics. I’ll wait.
You know you’re not going to find one. Not ONE. Because Republicans don’t campaign on things like that. So why do they suggest it when they get to office? Why make up new stuff that absolutely ZERO of their constituents have publicly asked for?
It’s not ideology. It’s greed. Simple, naked greed. Part of it involves opening the Overton Window. They propose absolute barbarism, and when they “compromise,” they wind up cutting the education budget where they really wanted it to be. But the truth is they’d love to cut it all the way to zilch. Why? They are long term thinkers. They know that when Democrats come back to office, they will restore things like the Special Olympics. And then, years later, Republicans will be able to include in their rhetoric that Democrats have added X dollars to the deficit.
The hypocrisy is staggering. Republicans just added a trillion to the deficit in only a year. They have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they don’t care about any national debt that results in tax cuts for the 1%. And that’s what this is really about.
Betsy DeVos is one of the richest people in America. Her houses are larger than many American towns. She has at least 9 yachts, and I’m not counting the one that activists unmoored. Good for her! But then, why does she want to punish people like my kid? Why do she and the President react to having wealth so differently than, say, Eunice Shriver?
When asked, DeVos said, “We’re not doing our children any favors when we borrow from their future in order to invest in systems and policies that are not yielding better results.”
Okay, fine. But the Special Olympics cost $18 million a year. Compare that to the $1 BILLION that DeVos has spent on failed or now-closed charter schools.
It costs U.S. taxpayers almost a million dollars every time Trump visits one of his (his!) golf courses. Since inauguration day, he’s visited his own golf courses 270 times. If it had been only 250 times, we’d have enough for the Special Olympics.
Considering the near-epidemic rates of autism, I actually think that the welfare state as currently constituted is probably unsustainable. We can’t just keep throwing money at the problem. We need to talk about new ways to move people like my kid into some kind of workforce. Sure. We could maybe start by emulating what other countries are doing. But…DeVos doesn’t want to have that conversation. Nor does the website she controls, the one for the U.S. Department of Education. Nor do those 552 websites I just sent you to. Republican candidates and office-holders don’t want to actually get into the weeds here. They just want more money for themselves. At the expense of people who can’t defend themselves.
The one silver lining is that Devos/Trump’s budget won’t pass, now that Dems control the House. But the whole thing is infuriating.
How can anyone think to use kids like my kid for their greed?