Amy Roberts: Two thumbs way up
Red Card Roberts
Park Record columnist
In what is likely to be called the hand gesture heard around the world, Sen. John McCain gave a dramatic “thumbs down” vote last week to the GOP’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
I have my own feelings on this piece of legislation, a mix of both personal and professional experience. But there’s no sense wasting column inches to justify my opinion. You either love the ACA or you hate it, and there’s not enough ink in the world to change your mind.
So this column isn’t about the ACA. It’s about courage. And not exclusively John McCain’s.
Less than one year ago, I watched my sister take her last breath. She fought brain cancer for over eight years. I know exactly how devastating that diagnosis is, and how unlikely Mr. McCain is to beat it.
Having watched my sister go through three separate craniotomies, I also know how exhausting it is to blink your eyes after neurosurgery, much less fly across the country to cast a vote. Regardless if you agreed with his vote, John McCain’s determination to deliver it was courageous and commendable.
But so too were those of Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. Both women consistently stood their ground for months prior, yet were immediately overshadowed in one moment by John McCain’s hitchhiking digit.
After the vote, headlines ranged from “John McCain’s maverick moment” to “The night John McCain killed the GOP’s health-care fight.”
While I love the irony of Trump being defeated by two women and a man he mocked for being a prisoner of war, McCain’s vote only mattered because of the two Republican women who agreed. And the stakes weren’t as high for him. McCain is not risking re-election, nor was he likely ever concerned about attacks from other members of his party.
Among other vulgar and violent comments, Collins’s and Murkowski’s steadfast opposition to ACA repeal efforts generated remarks like: “Somebody needs to go over there to that Senate and snatch a knot in their ass,” from Georgia Congressman Buddy Carter. Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold said, “There are some female senators from the Northeast — if it was a guy from South Texas, I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style.” Considering he suggested Alaska is in the Northeast, he might want to settle for a map.
As expected, the president was quick to pile on and predicted “a lot of problems” for opposing the bill. Not so coincidentally, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke later called both of Alaska’s senators to let them know the administration may attempt to economically punish their state because of Murkowski’s vote.
Both women faced extreme pressure prior to their vote and severe backlash after. They were thrown to the wolves. But instead, they emerged as pack leaders. It takes tremendous integrity and courage to do what you believe is right. And yes, it’s even harder when you wear a bra.
Every woman out there has a story. About the times they’ve had to fight to keep from being dismissed. The times men were given credit for ideas generated in a female brain. Being called “aggressive” when their male colleagues are labeled “leaders.” Or having their looks criticized the moment they suggest something unpopular.
There’s an old saying that goes, “Stand up for what is right, even if it means you’re standing alone.”
Let’s not forget that John McCain didn’t stand alone. He stood with two female senators from his party. McCain may have given a bold thumbs down, but all of them deserve two thumbs up.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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