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Senator Ron Johnson Should Have Met My Third Grade Teacher

August 10, 2017

One of my classmates in third grade had some type of physical disability which required him to wear a brace on one leg.  A metal piece wrapped around his boot at the place where the heel started, and connected to whatever was placed on his leg which was always covered with jeans.  He was able to walk but with just a slower gait.

I recall everyone was ushered into one classroom after lunch recess where a stern lecture was given by my teacher.  Someone had yelled that a game had been lost because the boy with a bad leg had not been able to run fast enough.  With no mincing of words our teacher spoke about what good sportsmanship meant, and underlined that such remarks which belittled someone due to a disability was just mean.

After reading what Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson said recently about another person who has a physical and medical situation made me think back to my third grade teacher.

In a Chicago radio interview Johnson suggested that Arizona Senator John McCain’s brain tumor, and the early morning hours, may have affected his vote on the Senate bill to repeal Obamacare.

“Again, I’m not going to speak for John McCain — he has a brain tumor right now — that vote occurred at 1:30 in the morning, some of that might have factored in.”

I know in the last number of years the level of political rhetoric and sharp attacks has increased in such a way no one–especially those of us who closely follow the daily news –should ever again be surprised by anything.  And yet I admit to being taken aback by Johnson’s remarks.

After catching flack for the awful remarks Johnson tried to make amends.

“I have nothing but respect for him (McCain), and the vote came at the end of a long day for everyone.

The vote did come at the end of a long day in the Senate but the interview Johnson gave was days after the congress adjourned for the August recess.  So what is the excuse to be given for his truly mean-spirited comment?

Most of us recall that in 2010 this state had two candidates seeking office who were suffering from cancer.  Republican lieutenant governor candidate Rebecca Kleefisch had colon cancer, and Ed Thompson running for the state senate was fighting pancreatic cancer.

I just know everyone from both sides of the aisle only wished the best for those two individuals during the hardest fight anyone will go through.  I know some stated at the time that if Thompson were as scrappy with cancer as he had been in politics the disease was in for a real fight.  In the end Thompson died, but thankfully we can say Kleefisch is a strong survivor.

Many at that time knew when it came to those two candidates the latest Wisconsin polls or the spin from that ad or endorsement did not seem so important.  All of a sudden the importance of just being alive and healthy was top of the list, and far more important than how to score on the political opponent.

So that is why when I heard the words from Johnson I felt it bite deep down.  After all, this is not how one should operate when it comes to someone fighting a health problem, such as cancer.

The kid from my childhood moved with his family after being in our school district a short time.   But because of him my class learned a valuable lesson in how to act towards others who may not have all that we do.  My third grade teacher made sure about that.

I suspect that if she were alive Mrs. Doherty would say to the Senator this might be a time to think about all the little things we take for granted everyday.  And be thankful for what we have.  And then not say mean things to others.

It really is that simple, Senator.

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