Could a man in a wheelchair be elected President of the United States? In 2016, almost certainly not. No matter how brilliant that candidate might be, today’s 24/7 “style over substance” press coverage and depressingly uncivil political atmosphere pretty much guarantee that a man (or woman) perceived to be disabled or physically weak could never be elected president.
What you may not know, or may have forgotten, is that we’ve already had a president in a wheelchair. Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was president from 1933-1945, was a paraplegic as a result of having had polio at age 29. At the time, most Americans didn’t know that the president couldn’t walk; in those pre-television days, presidential secrets were easier to keep, and there was an unspoken “gentlemen’s agreement” that the press wouldn’t mention FDR’s disability. The picture below is one of only five that exist of the president in a wheelchair.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was our longest-serving president and the only one to be elected four times. He led our country out of the Depression in the 1930s and to victory in World War II in the 1940s. He is considered by many scholars and historians to be one of the three best presidents we’ve ever had. And he did it all in a wheelchair.
In job search and in general, I find the FDR story to be hugely inspiring. If you would like to learn more about FDR, his wife Eleanor and their cousin Theodore, check out the new documentary by Ken Burns, The Roosevelts – An Intimate History.
Kimberly Hanes is a writer with a passionate love for words and ideas and extensive experience in business communications and event planning.
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