by Benjamin J. Kirby
Awful people. Just awful.
The job of a United States Senator is really not that hard. You determine what is best for your country, what is best for your constituents back home, and you vote accordingly.
Of course it's not as easy as it sounds. It takes many millions of dollars to get elected, and that makes you beholden to special interest. If you can maintain even a modicum of interest and respect for your constituents in your home state, then you're likely regarded as a fantastic public servant in an age of craven greed.
There are a lot of easy votes in Congress -- more than you'd think. There are hard ones, to be sure, but an awful lot of easy ones. And the one they had before them today should have been easy.
It was the ratification of a United Nations Treaty on rights for persons with disabilities -- called The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities -- and it failed.
It failed by a vote of 61-38 (it required a two-thirds vote to pass; it should have goten 100-0).
Why did it fail? Because hard-right conservative Senators didn't like it...
“I do oppose the CRPD because I think it does impinge upon our sovereignty,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK). “Unelected bureaucratic bodies would implement the treaty and pass so-called recommendations that would be forced upon the United Nations and the U.S. … This would especially affect those parents who home-school their children. … The unelected foreign bureaucrats, not parents, would decide what is in the best interests of the disabled child, even in the home.”
Inhofe was joined by Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (SC), Mike Lee (UT), Marco Rubio (FL) and most of the party’s leadership in quashing the treaty. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), who is up for re-election in 2014, voted against it.
I literally do not understand Inhofe's comments. I mean, this is black helicopter stuff at its very worst.
To understand just how dumb it is that this treaty couldn't get ratified in the United States Senate, you have to know these easy facts:
1. It would not have changed U.S. law in any way. It would not have had any impact on U.S. law whatsoever. Thus, it would not have "impinge(d) upon our sovereignty," as Inhofe groused.
3. The treaty was originally supported by President George W. Bush in 2006. The idea that this is some part of an imagined "liberal" agenda is nonsense. For whatever it was worth -- apparently nothing -- revered former Senator and Presidential candidate Bob Dole was on the Senate Floor today in support of it.
You know, I just spoke to a great class at Eckerd College about a life in politics and government. I tried really hard to make it sound worthwhile. Stories like this do nothing to help me.
The United States Senate had one job to do today. One job.
From the treaty language:
The purpose of the present Convention is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.
Not as easy as it sounds.
Takes many millions of dollars to get elected.
You're beholden to special interests.