James Rowen
Op Ed

Vos Echoes Trump on Disabled People

Assembly Speaker’s attitude toward wheel-chair bound legislator is truly Trumpian.

By - Aug 14th, 2019 02:35 pm
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Robin Vos and Donald Trump.

Robin Vos and Donald Trump.

Let’s match up President Donald Trump and Rep. Robin Vos to determine whose disrespect for people with disabilities is worse.

Consider how Republican Assembly Speaker Vos has handled Rep. Jimmy Anderson, a wheelchair-bound Wisconsin Democratic legislator who is paralyzed from the chest down, and who sometimes needs the assistance of personal care helpers. Vos has ruled that Anderson must attend committee meetings in person and cannot phone into some committee meetings.

Which got me thinking about then-candidate Trump’s widely-reported mocking of Serge Kovaleski, a disabled reporter from The New York Times. That filmed and widely-reported incident was laid out in detail in this comprehensive report from Snopes.com, the fact-checking website.

And this section of the Snopes analysis which includes a defensive Tweet from Trump caught my eye:

Somebody at the financially failing and totally biased New York Times said that, over the years, I have met Mr. Kovaleski. Serge Kovaleski must think a lot of himself if he thinks I remember him from decades ago — if I ever met him at all, which I doubt I did. He should stop using his disability to grandstand get back to reporting for a paper that is rapidly going down the tubes.

About grandstanding: Where have I just seen something very similar hurled at someone with a disability by a very disrespectful and unapologetic Republican?

Oh, here:

MADISON – Assembly Speaker Robin Vos accused a lawmaker who uses a wheelchair of “political grandstanding” Thursday for criticizing legislative rules that prevent him from participating in committee meetings by phone.

You can see why deciding which of these callously indifferent Republican leaders should be declared the winner in a cruelty competition which normal politicians or everyday people would do or say anything to avoid.

I have to conclude that they’re equally repellent.

Trump for using a public platform from which to show his deplorability, then lie about it, and Vos for using a powerful public office to block Anderson and his constituency from their rights in a representative democracy.

Through their toxic grandstanding, both have shown they’re unfit to govern, though from a legal standpoint, it’s Vos whose blunder may have greater consequences – – because legal fees are already probably on the meter, and any financial settlement from a suit against Vos would be paid by taxpayers. That would include Anderson himself and his district’s constituents whose representation Vos has diminished.

How FUBAR is that?

James Rowen, a former journalist and mayoral staffer in Milwaukee and Madison, writes a regular blog, The Political Environment.

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

One thought on “Op Ed: Vos Echoes Trump on Disabled People”

  1. frank a schneiger says:

    Beyond these cruel statements, for which James Rowen’s term “repellent” is exactly right, we should reflect on how destructive, people like Vos, Trump and other reactionaries are. To do so, it is worth looking at the history that has produced them. There have been three waves of social progress in western history. The first was the basic “rights of man,” the idea that people are citizens with human rights and not the property of kings or lords. The French Revolution and our Declaration of Independence are the markers for this advance. The second advance was the idea that people have basic economic rights, that we don’t allow them to die in the street. In this country, the New Deal laws during the Great Depression are the markers.

    In each of these waves, large groups were left out: women, minorities, LGBT people and people with disabilities, like Serge Kovaleski and Jimmy Anderson. Extending those basic rights to these groups has been the purpose of the Third Wave of social progress, and, as in the first two, it has triggered a powerful reactionary movement, starting with white backlash. It is a movement that now focusses not only on the gains made by these excluded groups, but seeks to eliminate those going all the way back to the New Deal.

    It is important to point out their individual acts of cruelty, but we also need to be aware of the impact of people like the poisonous Trump, Vos, their acolytes, their plutocratic and corporate allies, and the base that supports them. It is worth thinking about the enormous damage that they are doing to basic human decency, civil society and our shared environment. What is now the present will be the past in a short period of time, and many people will look back and ask: how did we allow this to happen? While many of the Vos, Fitzgerald, Steve King, Trump fans will deny that they knew that it was happening. They knew.

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