GOP Candidates Ignore Americans with Mental Disabilities

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Click Photo for Interview with Iowan Rick Westendorf

Click Photo for Interview with Iowan Rick Westendorf

Rick Westendorf, an Iowan with a mental disability, told The UpTake on Caucus night that the candidates competing for the Republican presidential nomination have not addressed the rights of Americans with mental disabilities.

Westendorf, who lives in a group home in Waterloo, Iowa, is appalled that the candidates have paid lip service to opposing Social Security benefits. He mentioned seeing a television advertisement recently that appeared to attack the popular program. No GOP presidential candidates have actually advocated for eliminating Social Security, but former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has favored making immediate cuts to the program. He did so in Fort Dodge, Iowa., and again Friday in Keene, New Hampshire.

“That would mean that I couldn’t live in a group home,” said Westendorf. “But people need those kinds of places. What about people who have to live in group homes because they don’t have any other place to live?”

“People are going to get very mad if we lose our funding, and have to go find work even though we can’t work.”

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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