Sunday, February 8, 2015

Personal reflection on FDR's deception

 I  do not think anyone can blame FDR for going through great lengths to hide his disability  in his rise to power. Considering that at the time of his first public appearance following his paralysis most media attention was fixed on how he appeared to be an "invalid" who  was carried to the podium, and  not on his  incredible oratory skills, it is no surprise that he worked from then on  to practice the art of deceiving the public as to his true physical state. After all, most of the game in cutthroat party politics is in not letting the opposition see you in a weakened and vulnerable state which would open one to attacks from the opposition on their proficiency and ability to lead. However, what I and many others are critical about is the fact that once he reached the zenith of the political pyramid he did nothing to "come out of the closet" of the extent of his disability during his lifetime, and never used his considerable political power and influence to change or at least shape the public discourse  on the lives of the tens of millions of the people disabilities living in the United States at that time.

 Sure, he did help a small population of those affected by polio by purchasing and improving the facilities at warm Springs Georgia. However, this could also be seen as a purely selfish and political move in his ride to the top. Selfish in the sense that it allowed him unfettered access to the facility which he greatly attributed to his increased vitality  and help in the years following the onset of his paralysis, and political in the sense that it was spun  to portray him, a member of  and elite and established upper class family, as a humanitarian and "Dr."  who could be trusted to "cure" the country of the ills of the Great Depression.

 Also, if he did as many think he should have done and  come out during his presidency as a physically disabled man, it would've gone a long way in validating the concept  that people with disabilities are not to be written off as incapable of great things, a concept which some people in this country still have problems with.  If this has been addressed in the years leading up to and following World War II as opposed to take his later, greater progress may have been made by now. Of course, hindsight is 2020 , and it is impossible to predict with accuracy what could have been. U

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