How Raising a Child With Disabilities Helps Show a “Common Humanity That Transcends All The Politics”

In this hyper-politicized time, how do you drop politics and talk as people, without the partisan baggage? Raising a child with disabilities helps, according to longtime Democratic strategist David Axelrod, who discussed this and other issues – everything except politics – with Erick Erickson on the most recent “Not Everything Is Political” podcast.

“I’ve met so many people across the political spectrum who are grappling with the same problems I’m grappling with, and it reminds me we have a common humanity that transcends all the politics,” said Axelrod.

He told the story of his daughter Lauren, who started having seizures when she was just seven months old. For 19 years, the seizures continued. “We tried everything,” said Axelrod, from diet to brain surgery, eventually taking matters into their own hands. “My wife said, this is enough, this is unacceptable.”

They worked toward a solution, raising money and starting a foundation, and finally something worked, and his daughter has been seizure-free for 16 years. “My wife is the hero of the story here,” said Axelrod.

Erickson and Axelrod also discussed work-life balance in a life of politics, with Axelrod saying “one of the great regrets of my life is I didn’t strike the right balance.”

Erickson recounted something Vice President Dick Cheney told him, after “admonishing me for traveling too much.” Cheney “said I needed to make sure that when I was with my kids, they had my complete attention,” said Erickson. “Even if it was for 10 minutes, just give them my time.”

Axelrod agreed that it was great advice. “As I get older I try to remind myself…every day is a gift,” he said. “When your time comes, you’re not going to say I wish I had done one more radio show, you’re going to say I wish I had spent one more hour with the people I love.”

Axelrod and Erickson discussed why Axelrod’s piece of John Hancock memorabilia is so important to him, his transition from journalism to politics and more. Listen to the full podcast here – and subscribe on iTunes to listen to each episode of “Not Everything is Political”:

Photo: University of Chicago Institute of Politics

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Steve Krakauer

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