On February 8, 2017, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) silenced Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on the Senate floor after she made attempts to read an excerpt from a letter penned by Coretta Scott King, the wife of civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. The letter was deemed critical of Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) allowing the Majority Leader to invoke Rule 19 which states that senators cannot “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.”
During this tense exchange, Warren had her microphone cut and was told repeatedly to sit down in an act which many have interpreted as both sexist and disrespectful. Why was it sexist and disrespectful? Mainly because this rule is hardly ever invoked despite recent examples of where its application would have been more appropriate.
Like for instance…
The above video clearly shows Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) disrespecting his colleague, then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), speaking of Reid’s so-called “cancerous leadership.” And yet when a female senator who expresses legitimate civil rights concerns, the same concerns that kept Jeff Sessions off a Federal bench in 1986, she’s silenced and excused in a manner that was not befitting an educated women representing the state of Massachusetts.
The Reason We Should Worry
So what does this mean? Can we expect to have female senators and representatives disrespected in Congress for offering a dissenting opinion? To her credit, Sen. Warren persisted as must we all to educate ourselves and our electorate about the choices our Government is making on behalf our country. More importantly, we must persist to protect our voice — the female voice.
Those still reeling from Hillary Clinton’s lost in the 2016 election still secretly hope that the President will be impeached. The truth is — that outcome is unlikely. The only way to ensure that the nation is placed in qualified hands is to educate ourselves and those inclined to listen to what candidates say instead of looking at their actions. We need to volunteer, go door-to-door, blog, and do anything we can to make sure that people know how important it is that they show up and vote. We want U.S. Senators and Representatives that understand and support women’s rights and that’s why we have to show up come midterms and the next presidential election cycle. If not, we may lose a lot of rights we spent centuries fighting for — and that would be a shame.