"Saddest Day" In US Senate As GOP Spits On Disabled

Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN) was rejected in the Republican primary this year in Indiana, tossed aside by Tea Party voters in favor of one of the infamous GOP "rape candidates". That nut, Richard Mourdock, of course lost to a Democrat in the general a few weeks ago. Lugar, in one of his last acts in the Senate, rose in defense of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Sounding vastly too sane to be any longer in the Republican Party, Lugar noted the facts of the treaty and its impact on US law (basically none), convinced him supporting the disability rights treaty and its humane principles was correct.
When it comes time to explain his vote, rejecting US approval of an international disability rights treaty, Republican Senator James Inhofe (OK) will likely offer some version of what he said in the debate over the treaty:

"I do oppose the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities because I think it does infringe upon our sovereignty, establishing an unelected United Nations bureaucratic body...that would be forced upon...the United States if the United States is a signatory."

Yes, usually when you sign a treaty, it does oblige you in some fashion, which is usually considered beneficial on balance.

Now, what exactly bothered Inhofe about the way in which the United States would be obliged in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities? What level of sovereignty would the USA lose?

Oh, it is a simple thing, as Inhofe explains (here quoting a letter from the Home Schooling Legal Defense Association in opposition to the treaty):
"Article 7 of this treaty establishes the 'best interests of the child' legal standard, which would override the traditional fundamental rights of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their child with special needs."
Why would home schoolers be opposed to the "best interests of the child" being considered in the treatment of disabled kids? In part, because of an innate fear on the part of some home schoolers of any government agency, and its power to thwart their efforts to mold a child however the parents see fit. Of course, one important job of government is to protect children and their best interests, even from their parents.

Here is what Article 7 of the treaty actually says. You may have difficulty locating the heinous part that should terrify Americans, and make them worry about their sovereignty:
Article 7Children with disabilities
1. States Parties shall take all necessary measures to ensure the full enjoyment by children with disabilities of all human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis with other children.
2. In all actions concerning children with disabilities, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
3. States Parties shall ensure that children with disabilities have the right to express their views freely on all matters affecting them, their views being given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity, on an equal basis with other children, and to be provided with disability and age-appropriate assistance to realize that right.
It is understandable that the Christian right activists, who are behind much of the home schooler movement in the USA, and also the Home Schooling Legal Defense Association, would be terrified by government actually holding them accountable on the basis of what is in the best interests of children.

On the other hand, if James Inhofe is so concerned about that standard, maybe he should get out of Oklahoma, where it is certainly part of the equation in determining if the needs of a child are being properly met by Oklahoman parents.

In addition to concerns about children, a number of US war vets were on hand in the Senate chambers on Tuesday, to show their support for passage of the treaty.

The veterans included 89-year-old former US Senate Majority Leader, Bob Dole, WWII vet, who suffered debilitating and almost fatal injuries fighting the Nazis.

But this Republican Party is really not Bob Dole's GOP. This Republican Party is so religiously opposed to kowtowing in any way to the United Nations (an organization founded by the USA and located in New York City), that even if sane Republicans (all two or three of them) wheelchair their way into the Senate chambers to beg for human decency from GOP Senators, it is all in vain.

After listening to the passionate pleas of the veterans arguing in favor of the humanitarian benefits of the treaty, the Tea Party conservatives in the GOP, whom Joe Scarborough dismissed as the "the black helicopter crowd", voted down the treaty.

The UN had in fact principally copied US legislation in the crafting of the global agreement on disability rights. So, the US would have actually been agreeing to a globalization of a US policy of protection of vulnerable human beings. Further, because of this, there would not be any impact of the treaty on current US laws.

The rejection of the treaty brought many proponents of the measure to tears. And Senator John Kerry (D-MA), who spoke most vigorously in praising the courage of ex-Senator Dole, his former Republican colleague, who is in frail health, in coming to the chamber, said the rejection of the treaty made it "one of the saddest days" of his entire time in the Senate.

Once again allowing base political concerns to overrule any consideration for doing the right and humane thing, the GOP continues to push itself as the (pre-haunting) Scrooge-Brand® conservative party.

Exactly how that will play in 2014, remains to be seen. Doubling down on mean-spiritedness will likely keep Tea Partiers motivated. It is unlikely to win many majorities in the saner parts of America.

Comments