Thirty-eight Republican senators, including Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, embarrassed the Senate and the country Wednesday when it voted down The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on Dec. 13, 2006, and signed by the United States of America on June 30, 2009.
Basically, it’s a treaty America sponsored to require other nations to comply with laws the United States already employs and has for decades through the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The treaty, needing two-thirds majority to pass, fell five votes short in spite of the support of former Senate leader and the Republican Party’s standard bearer for the presidency in 1996, Sen. Bob Dole. Frail and in a wheelchair, he came to the Senate floor to advocate for a treaty that should have been a slam dunk for passage. Sen. John McCain, the party’s presidential nominee in 2008, also supported the treaty. Still, there were political forces against it. Why? No one really knows. We are left only to guess that it was some sort of negative feeling about the United Nations, having nothing to do with the treaty itself.
Led by former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, the opposition used lies and innuendo to scare other Republican senators into submission. They drummed up concerns that said the treaty would control what we can do with our children in America. Not true. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who supported ratification, said Santorum, was, “just not factual.”
Even the co-sponsor of the treaty proposal, Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, was frightened into voting no. Resigning Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., first said his vote was in response tp the U.N. siding with the Palestinians, then he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, that the treaty was “well over 100 pages of treaty, of legal language, that effects parental rights and other issues of importance.” That, is just not true. And we wonder why Americans have lost faith in government.
Question: Did the 38 senators actually believe the treaty would do what it couldn’t do? If they did they must have fallen asleeep during the hearings discussing the treaty when those issues were brought up. Their no votes were the cowards way out. They just didn’t want far-rightwingers on their case?
A treaty that would have aided our disabled citizens, from service members overseas to tourists, will now languish for a time before it can be brought to a vote again in the next Congress. We are sure those Republican senators hope we will have forgotten they voted for the treaty before voting against it.
Now the other countries, 125 of them, that have already ratified the treaty requiring them to do something while it requires nothing of the United States, can point to America’s dysfunctional government that has turned many of the senior body’s members into slaves of the far-right.
You would think the Nov. 6 election results would have sent a message that such a strategy is a loser. If Republicans continue to make their point by flat out lying, the Grand Old Party will continue to slide into oblivion.