On her own website, Sen. Marsha Blackburn claims: “I support the efforts of Tennessee’s innovators who are currently working to improve the health care system and find cures for diseases.” But as reported by The Tennessean back in August, Blackburn voted no on capping insulin prices, even though a Yale study this year found that “14 percent of insulin users spend at least 40 percent of their post-food and housing income on insulin.” Plus, “Tennessee has the sixth-highest rate of death from diabetes among all 50 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Though the word “diabetes” is not specifically mentioned on the senator’s website, certainly she recognizes that diabetes does fall under the “disease” category. Does her idea of “find[ing] cures for diseases” mean she is going to ignore treatments that currently work, leaving medical patients in limbo until “cures for diseases” — like diabetes — are found? On Sept. 16, the Daily Kos verbally flogged Sen. Blackburn, naming her the “Fanatical Republican Extremist of the Day” and reminding readers that when she was a member of the U.S. House, Blackburn “voted against equal pay for women multiple times, insisting that ‘women don’t want it.’ ”
The senator also came under fire in August for her original vote against the PACT Act, which extends support to veterans suffering from exposure to burn pits. Tennessee’s U.S. Sen. Bill Hagerty, who seems to share every reported headline with Blackburn, also voted no. Eventually both senators changed their vote and agreed to back the PACT Act. But shame on Sen. Blackburn for later reportedly admitting she only voted no to get the goat of Democrats. Politics over people? If you read up on what a burn pit is and the suffering that comes from it, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would vote no.
Blackburn has cast a stream of no votes, and has not gained any popularity with — well, popular folks. Ahead of Blackburn’s election in 2018, Taylor Swift stated unequivocally that she cannot support Marsha. “I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans,” wrote the pop star. “She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape.”
What’s more, Sen. Blackburn is still a staunch supporter of former President Trump — despite the fact that the congressional Jan. 6 Committee recommended that the Department of Justice prosecute him for his part in the insurrection. Does the fact that Trump could be directly responsible for lives lost not have the senator at least a little concerned? Writing for The Tennessean in October, guest columnist Jack Bernard noted that Blackburn follows “the herd mentality … supporting Trump’s ‘big lie,’ regardless of facts.”
This habit of “herd following” despite the facts might explain why Blackburn has voted no on items that could truly provide better health and wellness to Tennesseans. These might seem like small things to many, but for those in need of them, they are huge.
Is Sen. Blackburn really the best the Tennessee Republican Party can do? Are Tennesseans and their lives really important to the senator? I’m not seeing the evidence.
Bill Freeman is the owner of FW Publishing, the publishing company that produces the Nashville Scene, Nfocus, the Nashville Post, and Home Page Media Group in Williamson County.