A friend had a bone to pick with me at breakfast this morning.
He thought yesterday’s blog post — about the six sitting members of Congress, all Republicans, who voted against a holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. — was unfair.
“I went through the story you posted,” he said, chiding me for only mentioning 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s vote. “Your buddy Dick Cheney voted for it!”
In my defense, I shot back, I only blogged specifically about the six remaining “nay” votes.
But he’s right. I’m a journalist. I
hate everybody equally should be fair. A lot of sitting members of Congress voted for it. Many of whom are Republicans. Many Democrats voted against it as well. They all joined notorious homophobe and racist Sen. Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina, by voting “nay.”
A number of the bipartisan “yea” votes even pursued the presidency. Vice President and prospective 2016 presidential nominee Joe Biden of Delaware voted for it. Sen. Bob Dole, a Kansas Republican who ran for president against Bill Clinton in 1996, did too.
Numerous House members who have since matriculated to the Senate also voted to create the holiday. Among them were Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-California and Pat Roberts, R-Kansas. Speaking of Kansas Republicans, former Sen. Bob Dole voted “yea” too, joining fellow GOP Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi.
Democrats representatives who voted “nay” included the memorable Doug Applegate of Ohio and Dan Daniel of Virginia. Applegate somehow still got a post office named for him in the thriving metropolis of Steubenville. In the Senate four Democrats, including both of Nebraska’s senators, James Exon and Ed Zorinsky, voted against it.
So in the tradition of being a fair, here’s a gentle reminder: Each vote defines your legacy, and unfortunately that racist legacy looms over both parties.