It was the “dramatic move to the right” that caused one of its most intelligent, courageous and principled members to bolt the republican party, creating a dramatic change in the country’s power structure. Upset with the vast scope of its tax cuts for the rich and its opposition to funding the Americans with Disabilities Act, in May, 2001, yes, close to a decade before gop insanity reached the teabagger level of today, Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont ended the 50-50 split of the US Senate and republican control by virtue of every vote being decided by the tie-breaker cast by vice president dick cheney, by leaving the republicans and becoming an Independent, but thereafter caucusing with and voting with the 50 Senate Democrats.
Sen. Jim Jeffords, a victim of Alzheimer’s Disease, died this week at the age of 80. His legacy is one of integrity, compassion, and a need to lend assistance to those who were unable to care for themselves, be it disabled Americans or Rawandans seeking a safe
|haven from institutional genocide. Jeffords was a Yale undergrad and a Harvard Law grad, but he gave up a lucrative practice to serve his state and his country. |
He was a pioneer among politicians, and a lone wolf in a republican party that ran at full speed from its early history of concern for the well-being of others, for the environment, and for social justice. He was a founder of the Congressional Solar Coalition and the Congressional Arts Caucus, and an award winner from the Sierra Club.
His history of realizing that a government could not operate and could not serve its people without sufficient revenue and that those most able to pay should be paying the most led him as a young Congressman to be the only house republican to vote against ronald reagan’s 1981 tax cuts. He saw the writing on the wall including the overriding partisanship of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas and was one of only two republicans to vote against his nomination. He supported gun control and was the only prominent republican to support the Clinton administration’s efforts at healthcare reform in the early 1990s. During the george w bush years, he was one of only 23 Senators to vote
|against the authorization for the use of military force in Iraq, and in an even more dramatic and intelligent vote, was one of only nine Senators to oppose the establishment of the department of homeland security. He was an early proponent of legislation to support gay rights and of ending the military's ban on gays.
He served in the Vermont state senate, as Vermont's
attorney general, and spent 14 years in the house and three terms in the Senate, retiring only due to his wife’s ill health, and his own.
He served in the Vermont state senate, as Vermont’s attorney general, and spent 14 years in the house and three terms in the Senate, retiring only due to his wife’s ill health, and his own.
His legacy has been brilliantly carried on by the successor to his senate seat, Bernie Sanders, who followed Jeffords then as again for several years as the only Independent in the senate.
The little state of Vermont has certainly produced some great people.