Friday, June 23, 2017

Susan Collins, Republican Senators, You Should Remember That The Disabled People You're About To Kill Have Families Who Love Them

Seeing the spectacularly impressive demonstration and blockade of Mitch McConnell's office by disabled Americans as he and his fellows in the gang of Republican thugs who declared war on them was especially moving for me and my family because our father was severely and permanently disabled in World War Two and spent his entire adulthood on government insurance through the Veterans Administration.  If he had not been a veteran, he would not have been able to have as full a life as he did, marrying, having a family, working a full time job, supporting his family, putting us through college, paying taxes, participating in religious and civic organizations as a volunteer.  

He told me once that when he was first in the military hospital, after having been disabled, when they told him he would never see, again, that they needed to - as it says in the official medical record -"amputate his eyes" they offered him training to support himself.  The training he was offered was learning how to peddle apples or pencils to, as he put it, become a professional beggar.  That was typical of how disabled people were commonly thought of in the early 1940s, either as beggars or people who were permanently institutionalized or dependent on their families to take care of them.  He was lucky that among the disabled of that time, one of the most aggressive of all groups were the blind, especially blinded veterans who gave him a different way to imagine his future and to plan for that future.  It was about the same time he met our mother who supported him in that.   He also told me that it was the blinded veterans of World War One who had pioneered that aggressive approach and the demand that they be supported in having a full life.

My father did work in factories, as he had before the war and he was discriminated against by his employers who didn't allow him to learn different skills for jobs that paid more and had better working conditions.  Not until the company changed hands in the 1970, after the Civil Rights era, was he allowed to do other things.

But the entire time he had to make frequent use of the VA hospital system for his medical care.  There were several times that he had serious complications from his war injury and other problems that could have reduced him to a dependence he had avoided and, in one case, could have killed him.  Without that he would have been a prisoner no matter where he was instead of someone who was able to enjoy the rights and freedoms he had fought the Nazis to preserve and extend to other people.

Now Mitch McConnell and whoever in the Republican caucus of the United States Senate who support the abomination that they unveiled yesterday are going to do that to an enormous percentage of the population who are disabled and who can, with Medicaid, live with the rights and freedoms my father and others fought to preserve and, in fact, they are voting to kill many of them.  Those who can't life free lives anymore will either be institutionalized, at, no doubt, enormous cost - most of all to their own cost in far more than money - left to die in miserable conditions or left to the varied fate of their families willingness to take up the burden of their care.

Those people you are prepared to rob of their freedom and healthcare and lives have families and friends who love them and who will fight for them just as much as they will care for them if you succeed in robbing them.  You can multiply the numbers represented in those brave people who blockaded McConnell's office by how many others who are ready to work against you and vote against you on that basis if not on the general moral principle which you are violating.

Susan Collins, you won't be able to sweep this betrayal and hypocrisy under the rug, this one is way over the line and unless you vigorously oppose it, you will be targeted as giving it either your explicit or, in your usual way, your tacit support.   This one isn't your pose of voting against Betsy Devos, after making sure that there were enough votes with Mike Pence so that your show of opposition and principle will be, as usual, you doing the right thing but only when it doesn't matter.

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