When I moved to New Zealand in 2003, I became familiar with the mechanisms of election and politics used in that country over the 7 years in which I lived there. In 2004, the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand elected me to a party leadership position in the Deep South Region. I was the male co-convener of the Green Party there.
The Greens had members of Parliament very quickly after the nation switched to mixed-member proportional representation (MMP) elections, which ensure that parties getting over 5% of the vote get proportional seats in the New Zealand House of Representatives.
There is a gentler attitude toward new or small parties in New Zealand and the government would not impose a practically impossible burden of 30,000 signatures on a single candidate for Parliament just to get on the ballot.
The entire national vote in New Zealand in 2017 was 2.63 million people. There are about 120 seats in parliament, so this means on average, there were 21,916 votes for each seat.
As my readers know, I tried to run in 2018 under Disability Party for U.S. House in District 8 in Illinois and the state demanded that I gather over 30,000 signatures and would not allow a single ADA accommodation for my disabilities. I am suing because this is absolutely ridiculous and discriminates as well as playing favorites with the much larger parties, which gather about 2% or less of this amount for ballot access in Illinois. Straw v. Illinois State Board of Elections, 3:18-cv-3066-SEM (C.D. Ill.). None of those larger party candidates did a single thing to justify their advantage besides associate with an old, large party.
The MMP system would be good for disabled people in the United States because disability concerns could be heard in Congress more easily. Disability Party could get on the ballot simply by garnering 5% of the vote, and then the party would choose their “list” and appoint however many as are justified by the percentage of the vote earned.
In the United States, where the major parties have infiltrated and control nearly every office from the local level to the national government, putting an MMP system in place would likely take a constitutional amendment. This seems unlikely when the people voting yes or no are large party officials.
There is no law that says a pro-disability rights candidate has to run under Disability Party, and it may make more sense to run as a Democrat and take advantage of that party’s influence and structures while rejecting any policy that discriminates. Disability rights are more favored by liberal politicians and Republicans in government and the courts have been quite hostile to these rights and the lawyers and advocates who push the envelope.
I would not recommend trying to change the Republican Party when their corporatist, elitist emphasis is so strong. Republicans would prefer not to have any handicap parking at all rather than suing businesses that don’t have any handicap parking. I fought against a Chamber of Commerce on this very issue and the hostility I received for opposing the lack of about 150 handicap spaces was hot indeed. It seemed that being on the front page of the regional newspaper resulted in my being libeled on the letters to the editor page while the local government did an audit and found that I was correct.
The Chamber sent the police to my house because I sent ADA and Illinois Human Rights Act demand letters and I showed them the scars on my legs and my handicap parking placard. The ADA does not require this. The issue is not proving disability but proving violations of the Act, very easy to do when handicap parking is totally absent from a business parking lot. The Streamwood Chamber of Commerce parking lot had no handicap parking.
Everyone seems to get this backwards. The U.S. Supreme Court explained civil rights acts and standing, but the 7th Circuit and its district courts consistently get the law wrong and depend on the U.S. Supreme Court never to review their wrong decisions. This is why I say the ADA is dead in the 7th Circuit.
Before 1925, these wrong decisions would have been reviewed if the disabled person wanted it to be reviewed. That’s because there used to be a right to appeal to the highest court. No longer. Republicans stripped the American people of this right with legislation that has never been properly reviewed as a Due Process matter under the 5th Amendment. I intend to get this Judicial Act of 1925 reviewed for the first time.
In sum, as a disability rights advocate and politician, you have to make strategic choices. The ADA was passed by a Democratic national legislature in 1990. The House and Senate had Democratic majorities. The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 was passed with Democratic majorities in the House and Senate again! This is not coincidence.
While some Democrats discriminate and I know of these, most care about civil rights in 2018 and I have worked with Democrats for over 25 years. A friend and I established the Indiana University College Democrats and I wrote its constitution. There are many good people in that party who would support making the ADA stronger and stripping courts of their means to discriminate. The Democrats can clear some barriers for other people like Disability Party to take shape later, and I support those Democrats who are progressive enough to take on the anti-disability interests in favor of the rich, the powerful, the Eugenic.