It shouldn’t come as a surprise that congressional Republicans have become even more draconian than the discredited George W. Bush canard of “compassionate conservatism.”

This past April, the U.S. Senate, with 68 votes (all the Democrats plus the Republican women), passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.

Recognizing the extensive nature of domestic violence, the senators included coverage that protected gays and lesbians, Native Americans and immigrants.

Despite expert testimony indicating that members of these groups needed the added explicit language to combat their particular threats, the House of Representatives passed a bill that not only retracted the Senate’s acknowledged compassionate language, they conspicuously weakened the protections.

Compassion is not a capricious commodity.

When the need for compassion arises, then we must fulfill the imperative — not when we wish, not when it is only cost-efficient or politically expedient, but always.

Mainers, while pleased that our two senators supported the bill, shouldn’t become complacent. Where was the compassion in 2011 when Republican leadership — Gov. Paul LePage, Sen. Roger Katz, and Rep. Dennis Keschl, with others — voted to balance that year’s budget by cutting pensions owed to retired state workers?

To joyfully proclaim this action as “positive pension reform” was not compassion.

Where was the compassion when these same leaders balanced the 2012 state budget, in great part, by reducing health care for thousands?

Were there other, less draconian avenues that they might have considered?

Congressional House Republicans could vote to pass a Violence Against Women Act that will keep the Senate’s compassionate language. Let’s hope they do it soon.

Meanwhile, here in Maine, we will, in November, have the opportunity to vote for those who we believe will serve with compassion; voting out those who serve a political ideology that often ignores compassion.

Allan Watson


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