I don't think that there is an American adult alive in 2012 who has not, in some substantive way, had contact with a person who had a physical, social, intellectual, language, or sensory challenge. These are some of the most courageous and motivated people in the world. Many of them are looking to the rest of us to help them level the playing field, so that they can function normally in a society that is built without them in mind. A simple curb cutout for a wheelchair to cross a street, an elevator with braille numbers over the regular numbers, a little extra time to learn a task do not appear to be the fodder for debate. But somehow, in the hyper-partisan world of American politics in 2012, our Senators found a way to embarrass themselves and the entire nation by failing to ratify a treaty that was designed after our own Americans With Disabilities Act of 1987, which was championed by George H.W. Bush and supported by almost every republican of that time.
Now the treaty which was proposed and originally signed by representatives of 158 nations, including the United States and ratified by 122 of these nations, failed by a 61-38 vote to be ratified. Fifty one democrats, two independents, and eight republicans voted for the ratification of the treaty. Thirty eight republican senators voted against the treaty. Since treaties require a 2/3 vote in the senate, the measure failed.
We have seen treaty ratifications fail before. Many treaties change the course of American policy or ultimately become extremely costly to the United States. Some treaties are poorly negotiated and, on balance, work against the best interests of the United States. Few treaties, however, have taken an American law, had that law admired by almost the entire world, placed that law into language for the world to emulate and re-issue it in such a manner that nothing would be required of the United States other than its' moral and ethical leadership in the world.
But thirty eight senators voted to reject the treaty. They voted to reject the treaty based on language that wasn't even implied within the treaty. They voted to reject the treaty because they were worried that the treaty might encourage parents to educate their children with challenges in public schools rather than home schools. They viewed this as an attack on American sovereignty. It would almost be funny if the world wasn't watching. It would almost be funny if there were not millions of people who have fought challenges of all sorts to become productive citizens who have watched thirty eight ideologues who couldn't bring themselves to vote for a treaty that should have passed without a negative vote. It ignores our own nation's values.
Even countries such as China and Russia have ratified this treaty. It lowers our standing in the world's eye significantly. Do these thirty eight senators think our wounded warriors don't deserve equal treatment? How about the wounded of our allies? Do children with intellectual challenges deserve the same rights as every other person. Should a blind American in Greece be accommodated as a Greek visitor to this country might be accommodated?
Thirty eight senators........thirty eight cowards........thirty eight people who are just an accident or an illness away from qualifying under the Anericans With Disabilities Act. These people have continued the republican grand tradition of 2012. They have alienated minorities, immigrants, seniors, the 47%, women. Now they can add the disabled to the list. The problem is that many of these people look to the rest of us for at least a small hand up, not a hand across the face. The American voter has to remember this disgrace. To turn your back on helping the least of us, to vote against giving the least of us the same rights as the rest of us is as cowardly and evil a vote that can be made. It goes beyond politics. It lands firmly in the fields of the despicable.