By Dr. T
During the Senate debate around the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions to be the nation’s next Attorney General, Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, actually silenced Senator Elizabeth Warren in the middle of her dissenting arguments regarding the nominee. Senator Warren was reading a letter written by Mrs. Coretta Scott King in 1986 urging the body to block Sessions’ nomination as a federal court judge. The letter was addressed to Senator Strom Thurmond, an avowed segregationist, who was the chairman of the Judiciary Committee at the time. Senator Warren read Mrs. King’s letter out loud from the podium on the Senate floor. “Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters,” Warren continued to read from King’s letter. “For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.”
Before Warren could finish reading, she was interrupted by Senator Mitch McConnell. “The Senator has impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama,” McConnell spoke intentionally. “I call the senator to order under the provisions of Rule 19.” Rule 19 is an antiquated and rarely used procedural rule on debate etiquette on the Senate floor. In this case, the rule states, No Senator in debate shall directly, or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator. And with that, the Chairman presiding over the hearing agreed with Senator McConnell and shut Senator Elizabeth Warren down! Just like a slap in the face, it was without warning and delivered a stinging blow, effectively silencing the woman senator and sitting her down.
This political stunt was so disgustingly heavy-handed and patently obtuse that McConnell looked like he was a Neanderthal from the dark ages or some Puritan village elder from the Salem Witch Trials. In the public square, across major media channels and social media outlets, he slapped the woman down and “put her in her place.” SILENCE! Do not speak Woman! What we are witnessing as our government officials conduct the peoples’ business is absolutely outrageous. It’s unbelievable that cogent facts, as stated emphatically by the widow of one of our nation’s most favorite sons and great mouthpieces for justice, were deemed as unfit to be heard and entered into the record during the debate around the nomination of this nation’s top attorney. It is breathtaking that the majority party’s Leader literally told the woman, a senior senator, to shut up and sit down. As astounding as it is, it is so familiar and such common behavior.
In a democracy, with a representative government, dissent is absolutely necessary and MUST be heard. Senator Mitch McConnell was boorish, ill-mannered, arrogant and clearly oblivious to all the racist, sexist, and misogynistic optics he created in that singular moment. It should be remembered. It was clearly pre-planned and thoroughly vetted as a strategy to block dissent and not allow the voice of the people to be heard through their representatives. When you have the votes, what’s wrong with hearing from the other side? Why not allow the words of Mrs. Coretta Scott King to be heard? Why should you need to bully your way across the finish line? Have some decency, sir! This is Washington, DC in 2017, not Salem, Massachusetts, 1692. We will NOT be SILENCED! “She was warned…she was given an explanation…and Nevertheless …She Persisted! “