A litmus test vote occurred in the United States Senate on Dec. 4 which serves to demonstrate once again that the era of moderation and reason is over, that we are now in the midst of an ugly and seemingly interminable phase of our history which is characterized by lack of logic, paranoia and intransigence.
At the urging of self-appointed moral arbiters like failed presidential candidate Rick Santorum, the body was not able to muster the necessary votes to pass a resolution which would adopt the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, a human rights treaty negotiated during the administration of President George W. Bush which has been ratified by 126 nations. The measure required a two thirds majority to be enacted. The vote was 61 'ayes,' 38 'nays' with nine reasonable and courageous Republicans joining all Democrats in voting for the bill. Regrettably, Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey was not among them.
Santorum led the way in asserting that the measure would somehow interfere with American sovereignty, a fear which would be aroused for some on the far right with anything that has the words "United Nations" attached to it.
Esteemed, respected former Senator Bob Dole, who is 89 years of age, made an impassioned plea for 'aye' votes from the floor of the Senate in his wheelchair. One would have thought that the influence of Mr. Dole would have meant something to his former colleagues. He, after all, is a decorated war hero that lived most of his life with physical challenges most of us cannot begin to imagine. After warmly greeting Mr. Dole, though, 38 senators essentially told him to drop dead, siding with the young upstart Santorum.
I have read about this matter a great deal, attempting to understand whether there could be any legitimate reason for the "grave concern" about the treaty voiced by Mr. Santorum, any valid explanation for his conclusion that the measure is a "direct assault on us." I can discern no logical reasoning for it.
If the bumblers of the Senate cannot come to a meeting of the minds on an issue which simply asks the rest of the world to adopt protections for the disabled such as those that are offered in our nation, then what hope do we have of ever conquering the challenge not only of the relatively minor "fiscal cliff," but our unfunded entitlement program liabilities, which have been estimated to total an unmanageable, horrifying $86.8 trillion?
It is ... again ... a day of shame and disgrace for the U.S. Congress, but the members are not entirely to blame. We elected and re-elected virtually the same cast of cartoon characters, individuals that have largely chosen grandstanding and hyperpartisanship over going to work to accomplish something of substance for those that elected them.
In witnessing this disgrace, I will draw some consolation from the fact that Rick Santorum was not elected president and is not likely to ever lead our country. Were he to return to a position of power, he would be a danger to us and to the freedoms we have come to enjoy, such as the right to privacy, which he does not recognize. He is a mean-spirited theocrat who believes that his moral tenets should be the law of the land. He would make Mitt Romney look like the finest president that ever served by comparison. If I had been forced to vote for either Santorum or President Obama, I think I would have had to consider emigrating to Canada rather than to have had to make such a choice.
The actions of Senator Santorum and his sycophants in the Senate demonstrate why it is that when I identify myself as a registered Republican, I do so defensively and with a level of embarrassment. I believe in the party tenets of limited government, minimizing taxation, and punishing heinous crime swiftly and sternly. I do NOT believe in the leaders of today's Republican Party.
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