Yesterday the Senate exposed itself as a sham and as a Dino–Democracy in name only–when it voted down background checks that would make it more difficult for criminals and the mentally ill to purchase firearms.
Ninety percent of Americans supported the measure and yet it lost. A solid majority of Senators voted for its passage and yet it lost.
Newtown families and American hero Gabby Giffords exposed their pain to the country and begged for a small change and yet it lost.
So what can I say? What do you say, when everything’s already been said? When the case has been prosecuted and won yet still somehow you lose. What do you do when you’ve run out of excuses and make no mistake…We are out of excuses.
In the past we’ve heard excuses like: “The president failed to lead.” This time the president spoke with emotion and passion. Giving 13 speeches on gun violence since the Sandy Hook tragedy. He made gun control a focus of his state of the union. He made full use of his charismatic and persuasive vice president. Even the First Lady made her first trip into tricky political waters to call for change.
In the past we’ve heard that senators need to work across the aisle. This time Senators Manchin and Toomey worked together. Negotiated. Compromised. Gave a joint press conference. They were a model of civility and bipartisan spirit.
In the past we’ve heard that the citizenry has to be engaged. This time citizen activists from Sandy Hook Promise and Moms Demand Action partnered with moneyed interests like Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Giffords’ Americans for Responsible Solutions. They were smart, savvy and compelling. Honestly, could passions have been any higher?
So what should I say? I could serve you a cold plate of political analysis. The flat mechanics that may contain facts but no truth.
I could try once again to make the case for background checks but there’s no need to persuade on the issue. We are already persuaded! Instead of words and analysis we must act. We must force change. In fact, put aside the specific issue of guns and gun violence. There’s a larger issue here. Yesterday the Senate exposed a putrid rot at the core of our democracy that can’t be concealed by any punditry or vague platitude.
Our only hope for this issue of gun violence and for this issue of our democracy is that there will be self correction. That there will be repercussions for the cowardly and rewards for the courageous. That we will finally force the mechanical changes to the filibuster that would start to allow the Senate to function again. Otherwise, we can mark yesterday as the day when that rot was exposed and permitted to fester in plain view.