It's October and we're in the midst of the political season which means endless phone calls, fliers and of course TV and Internet ads. Every one hates them although like the horrific car accidents, you can't help but watch. There's always at least one ad that has everyone talking and this year Texas governor candidate Wendy Davis found herself in hot water. Davis is running against Greg Abbott, who is in a wheelchair due to a tree accident that left him paralyzed from the waste down. Being a Texas Republican, Abbott is of course a strong supporter of tort reform. The ad was designed to highlight Abbott's hypocrisy on the subject but like all provocative ads, it backfired and even Davis supporters gave the ad an "F". It's not everyday you have liberals and conservatives basically agree, and it's downright toxic to have it be in the middle of the election season. That's the damage the ad did, it brought both sides together, but for the wrong reason,. It would be different if the ad triggered a bigger discussion on the policy issues regarding folks with disabilities and ways the government could make life easier, but it's too late for that now. The damage is done and NOW it's in the news cycle. The only upside is Davis is female and Abbott is male. If the gender roles were reserved and Davis was in a wheelchair, Abbott's fate wou ld have been sealed.
I myself have seen the ad and have seen the reactions across the
spectrum and something remarkable has happened, people with
disabilities aren't upset as people without disabilities. While I'm not particularly fond of the ad myself, and would never have approved it, I'm also not "offended by it either. Once I got past the initial shock of the ad, I happened to agree with it, Greg Abbot did win a medical malpractice lawsuit and is at least giving tort reform supporters a sympathetic ear. I think this needs to be addressed in the debate between them.
Actually I am more pissed at Greg Abbott because again while his disability doesn't define him as a person, it should give him a level of understanding and divorce him from the typical Republican brand. I think that IS fair game and Davis could have legitimately gone after him about it. However doing it now will ensure his victory. Only voters with disabilities will understand this move and I'm not even sure they'll buy it because the original ad is so toxic. It's a Hail Mary even the most saavy political operative couldn't pull off, not now. Abbot is up in the polls and doing this will ensure his victory
It would also do them both some good if they outlined their programs to assist people with disabilities with things like education, job placement and independent living. I think this needs to be addressed anyway, but given the fact one of them indeed has a disability it needs to be put in the forefront. It happened in 2008 when the first woman and the first black presidential candidates were running, what's the difference now?