In the wake of the failed vote to break a GOP filibuster on gun reform on Wednesday, a lot of people are feeling depressed, but even more are getting angry (including President Obama.) on that score, former congresswoman Gabby Giffords’ epic New York Times op-ed is not to be missed. (Get more cartoons from the great Jim Morin here)
She just plain calls out her former Hill colleagues as cowards:
I watch TV and read the papers like everyone else. We know what we’re going to hear: vague platitudes like “tough vote” and “complicated issue.” I was elected six times to represent southern Arizona, in the State Legislature and then in Congress. I know what a complicated issue is; I know what it feels like to take a tough vote. This was neither. These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending.
Speaking is physically difficult for me. But my feelings are clear: I’m furious. I will not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done, and until we have changed our laws so we can look parents in the face and say: We are trying to keep your children safe. We cannot allow the status quo — desperately protected by the gun lobby so that they can make more money by spreading fear and misinformation — to go on.
I am asking every reasonable American to help me tell the truth about the cowardice these senators demonstrated. I am asking for mothers to stop these lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them: You’ve lost my vote. I am asking activists to unsubscribe from these senators’ e-mail lists and to stop giving them money. I’m asking citizens to go to their offices and say: You’ve disappointed me, and there will be consequences.
I have thought a lot about why Gabe ran toward me when he could have run away. Service was part of his life, but it was also his job. The senators who voted against background checks for online and gun-show sales, and those who voted against checks to screen out would-be gun buyers with mental illness, failed to do their job.
They looked at these most benign and practical of solutions, offered by moderates from each party, and then they looked over their shoulder at the powerful, shadowy gun lobby — and brought shame on themselves and our government itself by choosing to do nothing.
They will try to hide their decision behind grand talk, behind willfully false accounts of what the bill might have done — trust me, I know how politicians talk when they want to distract you — but their decision was based on a misplaced sense of self-interest. I say misplaced, because to preserve their dignity and their legacy, they should have heeded the voices of their constituents. They should have honored the legacy of the thousands of victims of gun violence and their families, who have begged for action, not because it would bring their loved ones back, but so that others might be spared their agony.
This defeat is only the latest chapter of what I’ve always known would be a long, hard haul. Our democracy’s history is littered with names we neither remember nor celebrate — people who stood in the way of progress while protecting the powerful. On Wednesday, a number of senators voted to join that list. …
And at the risk of being totally outclassed by the former congresswoman, here’s my column from this week’s Miami Herald-:
With so many failures to its credit, it is no longer sufficient to say Congress is “broken.” It is on the brink of utter uselessness.
How else to explain, even in the face of the unspeakable horror of the Newtown massacre of women and children, and searing, individual tragedies like Hadiya Pendleton’s drive-by murder and the thousands of equally senseless gun deaths since then, the inability of Congress to move forward on even the barest gun reform?
And how to explain why the same politicians who would demand an immediate clampdown on our civil liberties in the aftermath of terrorist attacks like the Boston Marathon bombing — and whose zeal for indefinite detention, surveillance, warrantless wiretapping and even torture post 9/11 — is matched only by their determination to halt any expansion of background checks for gun purchases, even to people on the terrorism watch list?
Or their utterly supine obeisance to a gun lobby whose only interest is in hawking more deadly weapons, and expanding its presence to every sphere of our existence, from the coffee shop to the schoolhouse?
We are a country where 90 percent of Americans agree that we must strengthen our gun sales and trafficking laws — where nearly every sentient being sees the logic of preventing those convicted of violent crimes and domestic abuse, terrorism suspects or the criminally insane from getting their hands on weapons of murder. That includes an overwhelming majority of gun owners.
Who among us believes that we should be a country that condones, even encourages, the proliferation of weapons of war on our streets?
Do we want to be a nation where every teacher has an apple on the desk and an AR-15 strapped to her shoulder? Clearly, some do, including the madmen at the helm of the NRA, but they are a small, and freakish, minority.
And yet, our weak and ineffectual Congress will continue to dutifully serve them, and not us.
Read more here.