I don’t personally dislike Senator Johnny Isakson. From most accounts he appears to be a genuinely nice man. However, I strongly disagree with nearly all his votes and feel he has served too long. Georgians are overwhelming discontent with Capitol Hill — with a 74 percent disapproval of the job Congress has been doing. Johnny Isakson is especially vulnerable with Donald Trump as the GOP nominee. He also has some serious health concerns which may impact his ability to serve a full six year term.
Johnny Isakson’s record on terrorism and gun violence votes are abysmal. He has voted against LGBT equality 100 percent of the time. He voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Johnny Isakson’s record on women and equality is equally dismal. He voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that would make it easier for women to challenge unfair and illegal pay, and voted to block legislation to protect a woman’s right to contraceptive coverage and prevent employers from interfering in their employees’ private health decisions.
This career politician (first elected in 1974) has an estimated war chest around $6 million so I know the odds are stacked against his Democratic opponent Jim Barksdale. But we must remind Georgia voters that his positions are out of step with a forward looking Georgia. One need only look at what he let happen to the Veteran’s Administration while he has been Chairman of that Committee to show how ineffectual he has been. Even with his atrocious record as a do-nothing Senator, I also realize it will be an uphill slog to get an incumbent Republican voted out of office in Georgia. In this article I hope to articulate why it is so vitally important for the future of Georgia that he gets voted out come November.
Johnny Isakson appears very frail and gaunt
A Republican primary opponent named Grayson repeatedly said Isakson won’t complete a third term if re-elected in November. I can’t say I disagree with that assessment. Although that may be an uncomfortable subject to discuss, it is also critically important and pertinent come November when we go to the polls. How many years can Isakson realistically be expected to serve?
Of all of the incumbent Senators who were up for re-election in 2016, Isakson was out in front about confirming his intent to run almost the minute the 2014 elections were over. A few months later, Senator Isakson also announced he’s battling Parkinson’s disease, which is the latest in a long line of medical maladies he’s bravely fought while in office.
It is very sad that he has a chronic condition like Parkinson’s that will progressively get worse, but at the same time the job of United States Senator is terribly demanding. By choosing to run again he is not only risking his own health but also ensuring that Georgia won’t have as effective a Senator as one younger and in better health. But beyond Parkinson’s I have also noticed he appears to have rapidly aged in just the last few years. I have read numerous reports that claim Senator Isakson was a heavy smoker and reeked of cigarettes in elevators. His rapid aging would certainly be consistent with a long-time smoker. Is it possible that his rapid aging and his gaunt appearance are more related to cigarette smoking than the debilitation of Parkinson’s disease? Judge for yourself in the photos below how rapidly he has aged in just the last few years. He looks closer to 90 than 72 so this is a very serious question we need to ask.
Even if Isakson were in perfect health (which he most certainly isn’t), we have to remember he will be 72 years old at the start of his next term if re-elected and has been a politician over four decades. Isn’t a forty-two career as a politician long enough? I would be beyond shocked if Isakson is able to serve out his full-term until 2022 and voters need to be aware of this probability. If Isakson is forced to resign or dies in office, Nathan Deal will appoint his replacement. I wouldn’t be surprised if he appointed himself. But failing that you can be sure with his record of appointing inept cronies to the Board of Regents we can be confident it wouldn’t be someone that would be elected by voters. But beyond his poor health, let’s examine his record in the Senate.
Johnny Isakson has been a disaster in the Senate
Many falsely claim that Isakson is a “moderate” but the facts say otherwise. Johnny Isakson has among the most anti-gay voting records in Congress during his tenure, has voted repeatedly against womens’ issues from their right to choose to equal pay legislation, and has consistently voted against raising the debt ceiling.
Isakson won re-election in 2010 over Mike Thurmond with 58% of the vote, in spite of a controversy where he met with the candidate challenging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for his seat in Nevada, Sharron Angle, and described her speech to the Senate Republican Caucus as the kind of speech “she wouldn’t give to the unwashed back home”. Wiktionary says it refers to the “unwashed” as “The collective group (‘mass’) of people who are considered by someone to be somehow uneducated, uninformed, or in some other way unqualified for inclusion in the speaker’s elite circles.” This is how he refers to the voters he is supposed to serve. This is exactly the comment you would expect from a country club Georgia Republican.
Isakson has a long career of harmful and puzzling votes. Here are just a few:
- June 17th, 1999: Johnny Isakson votes for displays of the Ten Commandments to be placed on government property.
- October 10th, 2002: Isakson votes for the Iraq War Resolution.
- May 19th, 2005: Sen. Isakson pledges to support votes on all judicial nominees:
- “The Constitution requires an up-or-down vote” on judicial nominees. “I will vote to support a vote, up or down, on every nominee. Understanding that, were I in the minority party and the issues reversed, I would take exactly the same position because this document, our Constitution, does not equivocate”
(We mention this because starting in 2009, when President Obama takes office and begins nominating judicial appointees, by Isakson’s own standard he starts violating the Constitution and filibustering all judicial nominations into what is now, a eight year stretch of mind-blowing Republican obstructionism.)
- June 7th, 2006: Johnny Isakson co-sponsors and votes for a Constitutional Amendment to ban same sex marriage.
- November 1st, 2007: Isakson votes against the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, denying health insurance to millions of children.
- April 23rd, 2008: Johnny Isakson votes against the Equal Pay Bill.
- January 22nd, 2009: Isakson votes against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
- September 17th, 2009: Based on manufactured outrage over the “undercover sting” videos by journalistic fraud James O’Keefe, Sen. Isakson co-sponsors the vote to defund ACORN.
- December 24th, 2009: Johnny Isakson votes against the Affordable Care Act.
- May 20th, 2010: Isakson votes against Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform, feeling that nothing should be done to prevent banking giants from continuing the same risky behaviors that caused the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression.
- December 9th, 2010: Johnny Isakson votes against the Zadroga Bill.
- December 18th, 2010: Sen. Isakson votes against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
- December 20th, 2010: In an interview on CNN, Isakson pretends not to hear a caller who was asking about the vote on the Zadroga Bill, and provide healthcare for 9/11 First Responders. He had no difficulty in the interview prior to that.
- February 28th, 2012: Sen. Isakson co-sponsors a bill that would allow people to have “moral and religious objections” to providing health care items and services. Because apparently the Hippocratic Oath shouldn’t take precedence over people using their god to justify whatever faith-based ideology they might have.
- March 18th, 2012: Johnny Isakson votes against the Franken Amendment, which would have punished defense contractors found to be complicit in covering up sexual assaults committed by their employees by voiding their government contracts.
- April 16th, 2012: Sen. Isakson participates in a GOP filibuster of a bill to ensure the top tax rate for the wealthiest Americans would be, at a minimum, 30%.
- April 26th, 2012: Isakson votes against the new version of the Violence Against Women Actthat would have provided protections for lesbians and Native American women.
- May 24th, 2012: Sen. Isakson participates in a GOP filibuster of a bill to extend Student Loan Interest Rates.
- June 5th, 2012: Isakson participates in a GOP filibuster of the Paycheck Fairness Act.
- June 19th, 2012: Sen. Isakson votes to cut funding to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to attempt to cut the social safety net out from those living off of food stamps.
- January 29th, 2013: Johnny Isakson voted against Hurricane Sandy disaster relief aid. He had previously requested disaster funding for Georgia for flooding that caused far less damage.
- February 26th, 2013: Isakson votes against the nomination of fellow Republican Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense, illustrating how far his partisan obstruction against the Obama administration has gone.
- March 13th, 2013: Sen. Isakson co-sponsors a Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the Senate.
- March 25th, 2013: Isakson comments on his vote on the Budget Sequester, claiming people were “glad we were finally actually cutting spending”. Polling, however, showed how completely out of touch with their reaction Isakson was.
- April 17th, 2013: A few months after the Newtown Massacre, several meager gun control measures were brought forth in the Senate, including a limit on high capacity magazines, or universal background checks. Johnny Isakson votes against all of them to ensure he keeps his “A” rating from the NRA.
- June 8th, 2013: Sen. Isakson votes for a measure to ensure a border fence is completed along the U.S. Mexico border. That might be a waste of money that does not help much, considering estimates are 25-40% of undocumented immigrants in the United States arrive by plane.
- September 30th, 2013: Johnny Isakson votes for the 2013 Government Shutdown.
- November 7th, 2013: Sen. Isakson votes against ENDA, assuring that LGBT citizens can be fired from their jobs for their sexual orientation or identity.
- April 9th, 2014: Isakson votes against the Paycheck Fairness Act.
- April 30th, 2014: Sen. Isakson participates in a GOP filibuster of the Minimum Wage Fairness Act. This, during the greatest era of income inequality in the United States in almost a century.
- February 27th, 2015: Isakson votes against funding the Department of Homeland Security as part of a Republican protest of President Obama’s executive orders on immigration.
- March 9th, 2015: Sen. Isakson joins 46 other Republican senators who sign a letter sent to the leaders or Iran, trying to undermine foreign policy during nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and Iran, and earning them the sobriquet of “47 traitors”, as the move may have been a violation of the Logan Act.
- April 3rd, 2015: Isakson and several other prominent Republican senators file a brief with the Supreme Court to rule to “reject gay marriages”.
- August 22nd, 2015: Sen. Isakson goes on FOX News to stir up controversy over Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail servers, expressing his belief that the server was deliberately wiped, comparing it to Watergate, and admitting the end goal of the investigation was to “end her presidential candidacy”.
- September 11th, 2015: Isakson is one of many Republicans, who on the anniversary of 9/11, feel it necessary to also use social media to remind the public to “remember Benghazi”.
- September 22nd, 2015: Johnny Isakson votes for for HR 36, a ban on abortion at 20 weeks. It is filibustered by Democrats (the president would have likely vetoed it if it hit his desk, and even if that happened, it would be expected to be deemed unconstitutional via the Roe v. Wade ruling).
- September 24th, 2015: Sen. Isakson votes for the GOP Senate’s to attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, based off of manufactured outrage over the heavily edited “sting” videos of Planned Parenthood employees engineered by a Right to Life Group regarding fetal tissue transport fees that have been repeatedly debunked by investigators.
- October 29th, 2015: The U.S. Senate votes (wisely) to raise the U.S. debt ceiling. Johnny Isakson, however, votes against doing so. He has voted against all debt ceiling increases since President Obama took office. (If the debt ceiling is not raised, of course, economists predict that not only would the U.S. defaulting on its debts cause our economy implode, but the entire global economy would.)
- December 3. 2015 Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015 – Vote to adopt an amendment to HR 3762 that authorizes the Attorney General to deny the transfer of firearms to an individual suspected of engaging in terrorism. Isakson voted nay.
- January 19, 2016 Voted nay against an exceptionally talented African-Americam judge named Wilhelmina Wright to be a U.S. District Judge. Her nomination was confirmed 58-36.
- March 14,2016 Voted nay against the nomination of another talented African-American to be Secretary of Education. The nomination was confirmed 49-40.
- June 20, 2016 Voted Nay against the Fix Gun Checks Act of 2016. It failed by a vote of 44-56
- June 20, 2016 Voted nay on S. amend 4720 which Authorizes Attorney General to Deny Transfer of Firearms to Suspected Terrorists. It also failed 47-53
These last two votes are perhaps the most disappointing of all. A majority of Americans say they want stricter gun laws – but (NRA) money speaks louder than words. Gun enthusiasts also outnumber calling Senators 200-1. They speak up and they speak loudly. Nothing will change until the majority of Americans speak out as loudly and let our voices be heard by calling and voting. We are the true silent majority which is why Congress is so afraid to act. At the very least we owe all the lives lost in Orlando, San Bernardino, CA, Umpqua Community College in Oregon, and in the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Connecticut a promise to vote out NRA purchased Senators like Johnny Isakson.