Dear “Honorable” Jane Nelson:
It simply amazes me, that folks such as yourself, spent the entire day of testimony regarding this particular bill, (SB 1), denigrating women using every single slur known to man, and yet, when a woman testifies before you, exercising HER freedom to speak, you censor her by calling in the security guards to haul her away. I wish I could say, that I am surprised, but the reality is this: This is the norm nowadays for the Republican party, both at the local and National level, and, make no mistake, it is reprehensible at best, and duplicitous at worst.
Case in point: Last year, the entire world witnessed a man, simply attending a Paul Ryan event, which he had to pay in order to attend, exercising HIS first amendment right, by asking the Congressman, why he persisted on calling social security an entitlement. Now, consider me naive, but the man had a valid point, however since Congressman Ryan did not “appreciate” the question being asked, he simply told HIS guards to “get him out of here.” If this were not bad enough, he then proceeded, as the 71 year old man was being handled in a rough manner, thrown to the floor, to quip: “I hope that man has his blood pressure medicine, because he is going to need it.”
Of course, this was not the only incident which has taken place, with the newly branded Republican party, as Senator Rand Paul, at his final debate in Kentucky, had an altercation of sorts. According to then senatorial candidate Paul, he was experiencing a woman following him from venue to venue, so he allowed his campaign staff to take matters into their own hands, so to speak. And the end result, once again, was there for the world to observe: That woman was thrown to the ground, with the campaign worker having his foot stomping on her head.
One would think this would be sufficient cause for that particular campaign volunteer to be released from his duty, or to be disciplined at minimum. But nothing of the sort had taken place, the campaign worker was allowed to remain on staff, no apology was issued, and the woman was arrested. And despite all of this: Senator Paul had the audacity to question the “leadership” of Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, when she was testifying on the Hill, regarding the tragic events surrounding Benghazi. In fact, he went so far as to state, “If I were your boss, you would have been fired.” So, let’s see? He would have fired Secretary of State Clinton, but he never said one word about the manner in which that poor woman at his campaign rally was treated by his campaign worker, simply over her exercising “her first amendment right.”
See, this IS the problem with the current Republican party, Senator Nelson: Your party has been hijacked by a corporate owned supposed “grassroots movement,” called the Tea Party. That is, it “appears,” and you can correct me if I am wrong, but your entire Party can do nothing without the permission and clearance of the tea party movement. In social psychology, we refer to this issue as the principle of “reciprocity.” That is, due to the vitriol and hatred espoused by those within the tea party, as they voiced opposition to our President, and all he supported, your party remained silent, even when that which was stated about our President was completely false. As a result, your party flew into power on the coat-tails of that tea party. Now, you owe them, and they own you! And, let’s talk about that tea party, for a moment, shall we? While I have no doubt that each and every Tea Party supporter, believes in their heart that each loves his or her country, including those who are legislators, I personally believe they utilize non-traditional measures to accomplish their goals, which is, in my estimation to bring down this President, while thwarting the very democracy our nation was founded upon! Let me explain:
The routine botching of the American story by politicians is not unique to this era, nor has it been confined to politicians on the right. But the gaffes may be more a habit of the right at the moment simply because the Tea Party insists upon rooting itself in the American past. The movement’s very name supposedly goes back to that signal event in Boston Harbor on December 16, 1773. Whether they intend it or not, their name “suggests,” much as you, that the currently elected government in Washington is as illegitimate as a distant, unelected monarchy was two and a half centuries ago. And it hints that methods outside the normal political channels are justified in confronting such “supposed” oppression.
But the Tea Party is far from alone among American political movements in trying to establish a consistency with the past. It is an important truth about history within our history; when large matters are at stake, Americans have a tendency and habit of searching for precedent and identifying useful heroes, even if the heroes they reference are mythical in stature. We all claim to be sons and daughters of our Revolution. We all desperately want to be American and devoutly wish to avoid being labeled otherwise.
Even our own historical heroes looked back for heroes of their own. In fact, a significant portion of Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 address at Cooper Union in New York City, the very speech that assisted in his electoral bid, making him President, was an argument over where the Founders of our republic – “our fathers,” Lincoln called them – really stood on the question of slavery. His learned speech concluded that he was on their side in opposing the spread of slavery, and they on his.
In his war against the Bank of the United States a generation earlier, Andrew Jackson (whom Lincoln had opposed) thought of himself as “the guardian of a threatened Republican tradition” defending the nation’s Founding principles against what Jackson saw as the “tyranny and despotism” of the big financiers.
But here is the rub Senator Nelson: The homage that politicians pay to the past is often a form of opportunistic piety. If the devil can quote scripture for his purposes, politicians can ransack our national traditions, (along with their supporters), to justify virtually ANY course they are commending to the country. Lincoln’s opponents, after all, invoked the Founders support of slavery. Jackson’s critics accused him of subverting the Constitution’s conception of the presidency and turning himself into a king (an accusation often made by the Tea Party and libertarians in our country with regards to our current President).
Opponents of the New Deal organized the Liberty League under a Jeffersonian banner of their own. Oddly, many old Liberty League arguments, as stated, have been brought back to life by the Tea Party against Obama. References to the Founders and the Constitution, so routine in today’s conservative and libertarian rhetoric, even embraced by those opposed to democratic rule, also studded the polemics against the New Deal.
About now, you might find yourself asking, “Why go into all of this,” perhaps, even tempted to ask, “what does this have to do with the “manner” things were handled today?” Great question: It has EVERYTHING to do with how that woman, and countless others, have been handled today, and in days past.
It is called democracy, and apparently you have forgotten that our nation was founded upon this very principle! To be clear: Our debate over our nation’s history, whether conservatively or progressively approached, is only rarely over whether our past should be seen as noble or ignoble, defined primarily by our love for freedom and justice or by the oppressions of race or class or gender. These debates DO occur, especially in disputes over how American history ought to be interpreted when cast in the light of our current tenuous affairs.
Senator Nelson: For you to silence another person, simply because you find her commentary to be at odds with your ideology or worldview, undermines the very democracy our founders fought for. Make no mistake: Those within the Tea Party crowd proclaim “fealty” to that grand document, drafted by our Founders, called the Constitution, however, when the ideology or worldview no longer agrees with the ideological purity currently embraced by this Republican party, your party; democracy is hindered.
Those within the tea party also remind those of us in disagreement with the very manner they act towards our President, for example, that politicians “should never underestimate the power of ‘we the people,’” and yet, when the very “people” speak, especially when it is disagreeable with your agenda, your platform, your plank, you silence them by hauling them out of the proverbial court of law. If the “people” which comprise this electorate cannot voice their opinions, making them known to legislators such as yourself, what shall be the end result? Senator Nelson: That woman is your constituent. You have an obligation, not to party, not to ideology, but to YOUR CONSTITUENTS!
The Tea Party movement has not only spoken publicly about “tyranny,” or “watering the tree of revolution” on a near shrill level, but what about those who oppose your agenda? Do they not have the exact same recourse in this nation? Or, is it your belief that the rules only apply to folks such as yourself? Make no mistake, Senator: THAT is the perception your party has left in this electorate, and we BOTH know, “perception is reality!” Do people no longer have a voice in the political milieu which seems to be systemically broken? Or, do only those who agree with your belief, your worldview, your ideology, have a say in the affairs of our nation?
Senator Nelson, I am a political writer and analyst, and what I witnessed today, was nothing short of our government, no, your party inching towards, what can only be described as a “fascist state.”
Whether I agree or disagree with your opinion regarding abortion, is a moot point here Senator. What concerns me most, is how you, your Party, and the conservative media entertainment complex seem content riding the wave of hatred, disdain, and disrespect towards anyone disagreeing with YOUR worldview, ideology, beliefs, or convictions. The last I looked, that woman not only had, but continues to have a right to voice her opinion, regarding the very affairs which affect her the most. Today, through sheer power, authority, and borderline abuse of authority, you deprived that woman of exercising her constitutional right. THAT Senator, is what highly disturbs me the most! Many thanks for allowing me to voice my opinion, regarding this matter, and I sincerely hope you understand that should this comment be removed due to your not liking what I have stated here, IT WILL be found on Facebook on a variety of other sites. You cannot silence the American public!
Dr. Mark Bear
To see the video of Sarah Slamen see video below:
Texas State Senator Jane Nelson’s Facebook page:
Special thanks to Too Informed to Vote Republican for publishing this piece yesterday! https://www.facebook.com/TooInformed?fref=ts
Dionne, E. J. Jr., (2012): Our Divided Political Heart: The battle for the American idea in an age of discontent. Bloomsbury, New York, NY.