|Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the hip, young face of the |
Republican Party, and new spokesman for
Poland Spring bottled water.
And if you still carry any doubt as to why the GOP can't win elections anymore — and why its candidates won't be able to for the foreseeable future, unless they continue circumventing the democratic process — these votes should erase whatever uncertainty you still have.
(Side note: This blog was never intended to be a Republican bashing forum. If they'd stop being so terrible, I'd stop ripping on them.)
On Tuesday, the Senate reauthorized the 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), even though nearly half of the Republican caucus voted against it. That's 22 members.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — whose GOP response to Obama's State of the Union address was apparently so intense that he had to pause midway to take a swig from a water bottle that was likely paid for by Big Government — was among the senators who voted "no." Rubio posted an absolutely nonsensical statement explaining his vote, saying it was because of funding for sexual assault programs and criminal jurisdiction for tribal governments.
And this guy is supposedly the new, fresh face of the Republican Party, the one who will usher in renewed GOP electoral success in 2014 and 2016 — particularly among minorities, because, well, look, he's Latino, and women, because…
…Oh, wait. So much for that.
If the VAWA vote wasn't bad enough, the same bill contained an amendment offered by Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, which reauthorized the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000.
A little background on the TVPA: First passed 13 years ago, this legislation is designed to equip the United States with the resources it needs to fight human trafficking and assist victims of heinous crimes like sexual exploitation and forced labor. The law has to be reauthorized and funded every several years, and until recently, that was done in a timely, unanimous fashion by Congress.
But on September 30, 2011, the legislation expired, because Republicans these days refuse to even allow votes on measures that any honorable human being should endorse — such as a law that provides basic protections to women who are victims of violent crimes, or a law that helps prevent 8-year-olds in developing countries from being forced to work in brick factories.
On Tuesday, more than a year after it expired for the first time in its history, the Senate was good enough to finally reauthorize the TVPA — but without the help of five Republicans who voted against it.
It's incredible that even one senator opposed this legislation. The fact that five did is nothing short of appalling. What civilized reason exists for rejecting a law that fights human trafficking?
Now, the Violence Against Women Act, with its Trafficking Victims Protection Act provision, is headed to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where there's a good chance that it will die, as it has at least once before.
It's become painfully clear, after all, that restive GOP House members come from districts where support is won not by taking humane, rational votes on issues that would, in an earlier era, be no-brainers — but instead by being as intransigently opposed as possible to any measure that represents some glimmer of progress.
Recently, I watched this PBS Frontline video that discussed how Republican operatives decided on the evening of Obama's first inauguration in 2008 to respond with "unyielding opposition" to all of his legislative initiatives in the upcoming years. That was no surprise to me; after all, it's precisely what they've done.
But GOP defiance has spiraled far beyond just a cynical attempt to sabotage the legacy of a president they don't like. The VAWA and TVPA bills certainly aren't Obama's pet projects; rather, they're the products of any lawmakers who have even a modicum of decency.
Nowadays, Republican obstructionism is more accurately categorized as bald-faced disdain toward anyone who represents the political opposition — an attitude that complete subversion is preferable to facilitating anything, however insignificant, that could be construed as a victory for the other side or its supporters.
This is terrible for our country. American voters should take note and respond to the GOP accordingly.
Oh, by the way, Senate Republicans are also blocking the nomination of Chuck Hagel, former Republican senator from Nebraska, as the next Secretary of Defense. Apparently, they're fully prepared to obstruct even one of their own if it creates problems for the White House (or, you know, America's national security).