How low will the Republicans go?
How low will the Republicans go?
By Natasha Dowdy Gordon
Thirty-eight United States senators made the decision to do something so unbelievably cruel, outrageous, malicious, and unconscionable on Dec. 4, 2012, that I am actually finding it difficult to believe that any of them found the unmitigated gall to go home, lay their heads down on a pillow and expect that our Creator would actually breathe the breath of life into their lungs so that they could get up the next morning.
The United Nations Treaty on Disabilities was brought up for a vote in the United States Senate only to be voted down by a party that has clearly been taken over by the most reckless, heartless, soulless, people that have ever been elected into public office anywhere. The treaty is a mirror of the American’s With Disabilities Act, a bi-partisan piece of legislation that was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush.
The treaty was viewed as a crowning achievement for many lawmakers who had been working to move it forward and garner the support of nations all over the world. The United States has always been known as the leader of the world for it’s stance to protect and instill the rights of those with disabilities.
President Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and President Barack Obama, all picked up the banner when it came to moving this treaty forward because they all believe that people with disabilities deserve the same rights and freedoms as anybody else.
There were many senators that worked hard on the legislation that became the American’s With Disabilities Act, a law that we all take for granted, but could not live without in this country. The stage was set for the United States Senate to make history, to do something grand, to set petty politics aside, to stand up for what was right, and to show the world that law-makers in this country still had some semblance of humanity left.
Thanks to 38 Republicans, the Senate failed the veteran’s groups that were in attendance to watch history unfold, it failed to honor the will of the people of the United States, it failed many groups of people all over the world, and even worse than all of that, they failed their own leadership-past and present.
Both Sen. John McCain and former U.S. Senator Bob Dole are disabled due to injuries that they sustained in wars, where they fought bravely to keep us all safe. Sen. John Kerry, a veteran, made a passionate plea to his counterparts to do the right thing, as did McCain. Dole did not speak, but yesterday should have been the final diamond in his stellar senatorial career, and the passage and ratification of this treaty was important enough for him to have his wife, former Sen. Elizabeth Dole, roll him down the aisles of the senate chamber in a wheelchair, humped over and crippled, only a week out from being released from the hospital.
There were eight Re-publicans that had the courage to vote with the Democrats, the others walked up to Sen. Dole, flashed a phony grin, patted him on the back and verbally rendered a vote of NO. The 89-year-old Dole sat helplessly in his wheelchair as 38 daggers penetrated his back with such savage disregard, that every American should be mortified by what we witnessed on yesterday. The looks of utter shock and disbelief on the faces of McCain, Kerry, and Dole, will haunt me for many years to come.
The act of cowardly and deceptive behavior by those 38 Senate Republicans on yesterday crossed the line of political defiance, and can now only be defined as ruthless, mean, repulsive, and straight up evil.
As I watched Sen. Dole take with every measure of his being, the beating that the senate Republicans, many of them his friends, were dishing out, I was filled with disgust and anger. Anger because we no longer have reasonable lawmakers in this country. I was angry be-cause my heart and spirit could not hold the fact that the same God that created me also created human beings as vile and inhumane as the people that I watched one by one steal bit by bit what is left out of the life of Bob Dole. I was also angry be-cause over the course of my life-time, I have been in the presence of Bob Dole, and I know a little something about who he is and what he is all about.
I remember the days of stumping at Ed Young’s Plantation in South Carolina, and I remember a not so young, but vibrant Bob Dole, and Strom Thurmond. Sure Thurmond ran on the segregationist ticket in the 1940’s, and both he and Dole were strong republicans, but these two men understood that strength did not mean that one had to be unreasonable, and they understood that they were elected to do what was in the best interest of the people, even if that meant crossing the aisle. They often worked with Sen. Fritz Hollings who was a Democrat from South Carolina.
During their tenure Dole and Thurmond were not co-wards, they stood for what was right, and consequences as a result of retaliation be dammed. Thurmond and my grandfather were good friends, and he attended his funeral along with Sen. Hollings. I am sad to say that I had to return the favor by attending the funeral of his daughter Nancy Moore Thurmond, who was struck down by a drunk driver as she was crossing a street in downtown Columbia, S.C.
Nancy and I met as little girls because of politics. My grandparents were invited to parties thrown by the Thurmond’s on a regular basis, and then when we got older Nancy and I competed against each other in Miss America preliminaries. My mother would help her get ready, just as she would help me, and Sen. Thurmond was always present at each pageant to give us both a hug and a “You were wonderful.”, no matter what the outcome. I can still see Nancy to this day smiling as she would hurry to open a letter from Sen. Dole that he would send to her father on pageant day on his senate letterhead. He never made a pageant, but he never failed to send a handwritten letter of encouragement to let Nancy know how much he loved her, and how proud he was to be her Godfather.
That look of a man that had absolutely nothing more to give on yesterday was the same look that I saw on Sen. Dole’s face the day of Nancy’s funeral at First Baptist Church in Columbia, South Carolina. I sat in that church along side my friend Angela Herndon and her mother, and watched as the chairs in the pulpit filled with all of the lawmakers that we see so often on television. Senators and Congressmen, Democrats and Republicans showed up in force to show their support for Senator Thurmond who had his dear friend Sen. Dole by his side. Vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper were the last to enter.
I listened to Sen. Dole as he spoke over the lifeless body of Nancy Moore Thurmond. He spoke of his love for his Godchild, and then he began to tell the story of how Nancy was crossing the street the day that she died, to cash the check that he had sent her for her birthday just a few days before. He told of how the check was returned to him, and how drops of Nancy’s blood were still splattered on the check when he took it out of the envelope. Dole could hardly contain himself as he went on to talk about the life that he and Thurmond had imagined for Nancy, you see Nancy had been accepted into law school at the University of South Carolina, and they had just gotten the news. Nancy was going to be an attorney just like her father, and her beloved Godfather. Dole was a broken man that day, the pain that he felt was visible, just as visible as it was on yesterday.
Bad things happen to good people every day, every minute of the day even, but nobody deserves the type of pain that those 38 Senators forced Senator Dole to endure on yesterday. What happened to Nancy was an accident, what happened on yesterday was a mean spirited, intentional, infliction of pain. Yes Dole is a Republican, but I would urge people to see how he spent his time in the Senate. I would urge others to see how many times he crossed the aisle, and how many times he voted in the best interest of all Americans. The 38 people who call themselves United States Senators are not fit to serve the people of the United States of America and they should feel the shame of what they did to Dole, our disabled veterans, and all disabled persons on yesterday for years to come.
As for me, I am going to remember the days at Ed Young’s Plantation where I would watch Senators Thurmond, Hollings, and Dole strike deals with state, local, and nationally elected Republicans and Democrats over a plate of barbeque and a can of Pepsi. Those were the good old days when Republicans were not afraid of the word compromise, and they sometimes even wore their hearts on their sleeves.