Eventually, what you throw out into the world comes back to you. I grew up with Bob Dole. I had dinner with him once, he came to our house as a child, we visited him in his office in Washington DC.
Today, there would be issues I would have with Bob Dole on the policy front, but despite all of that, I never felt as a youth or now that Dole didn't "say what he meant, mean what he said" or that he wasn't willing to work with others.
Today, the Boston Globe lays out exactly what is wrong with the Republican party from Dole's perspective.
Dole was 89 years old, just out of the hospital, working the phones to win senators’ support. Then, in a dramatic effort, he rolled in his wheelchair onto the Senate floor, all but daring senators to vote against him and, by proxy, anyone with a disability.
It was a moment Dole had long awaited. He had brought the parties together to pass his greatest piece of legislation, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which required the retrofitting of buildings and sidewalks and provided an array of other rights.
Now he wanted the Senate to approve an international treaty that would spur other nations to pass their version of the law, making the United States a role model to help tens of millions of people around the world.
It was an event in the late eighties, my brother had just won the state National Geographic bee. Suffering from a broken arm and forced to lay on a mat on the stage, he pressed on to have one of those weekends we will all remember.
We received cards from several, but it was a phone call from our senator - Robert Dole - that came across to let us know that he was proud of the effort and wanted to talk. The only issue on the list of those around us surrounded basic rights - especially for the disabled. Senator Dole came to a town event early the next year, stopped in and laid out why working toward the Americans with Disabilities Act was important to him.
Giving people a chance to participate in society was the way to move things forward; and that the most important role of government was to allow more people to participate in every level.
Now, twenty years later, former Senator Dole sees what his party has become and tells us something is very wrong.
As Dole sat in his Washington law office in February, still stunned by the outcome, he blamed his own party and suggested a headline: “Republican Party closes its doors to make repairs.” The GOP, added Dole, one of the party’s most revered figures, “needs a timeout” to tone down the antigovernment rhetoric.The article is chock full of quotes that describe the problem with the current leadership of the republican party.
They saw their job as meeting halfway. “I thought when I was elected I was supposed to do something,” Dole said.
Supporters hoped the time was right to win ratification. Of the 193 countries in the United Nations, 155 have signed the treaty and 129 have ratified it, including countries such as Afghanistan, Cuba, and Russia. In an effort to win Republican support, treaty backers asked Dole to take up the fight. The old warrior, while weakened from his most recent hospitalization, promptly agreed.
No one disputed the difficulties faced by many of the 1 billion people worldwide with disabilities; in many developing countries, most children with disabilities don’t go to school and have little chance of gainful employment, not to mention basic accommodation, according to the State Department. Ratifying the treaty, supporters said, would spread American leadership around the globe as well as create new markets for US-made disabilities products.
Senators James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint of South Carolina, favorites of the Tea Party, wrote an op-ed for The Washington Times that said the treaty “calls for government agents to supersede the authority of parents of disabled children and even covers abortion.”Republicans turned their backs on those who were part of one of their greatest victories.
Dole and other supporters of the treaty viewed the charges as laughably false. The treaty legislation clearly stated that it required no change in US law, and there were no new abortion rights, they said.
I can remember sitting in a room listening to Senator Dole tell us how he always held a pen in his hand - a hand he couldn't really use due to a war injury, because as a younger man from the war the sign of disability made it harder for him to get respect; and holding a pen in his hand was a way to seem as though he was doing something and to hide a disability. His story was a moving moment to how a person understood directly the issues that face those who are disabled.
I am not here to rah-rah a Republican Senator who I'm sure we all would have many policy disagreements with. But I am here to remember a Republican Senator who pushed through the Americans with Disabilities Act. He put forward the Clean Air Act.
I read the article at the Boston Globe and remember that at one point, Dole was right " “I thought when I was elected I was supposed to do something"
Too bad the current Republicans believe they are elected to make sure nothing happens. A nation cannot move forward if leadership from 20 years ago looks infinitely more progressive then a current implementation of a party. While everyone else tries to move forward, the modern Know-Nothings do everything in their power to take as many steps back as possible.