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House Democrats Didn’t Win The Battle, But They Are Preparing To Win The War

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House Democrats Didn’t Win The Battle, But They Are Preparing To Win The War

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House Democrats walk out on the East Front on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., after their sit-in over gun-control law. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

After nearly 26 hours, House Democrats, lead by civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, decided Thursday to end their sit-in demanding stricter gun control legislation.

As expected, they didn’t get what they were asking for – a vote on the “no fly, no buy” bill, and another vote on universal background checks.

What Democrats did get was lots of attention. Public interest in the sit-in was intensified after congressional leadership shut off CSPAN cameras, forcing Democrats to connect with the public directly through social media and their smartphones.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said the sit-in was a “publicity stunt.”

And it was — but is there anything wrong with that?

Democrats are used to being silenced in the House – as the minority party, they are at the whim of Speaker Paul Ryan. Even if they got to a vote, the bills didn’t have a chance of passing, and Democrats knew that.

But as members of a Congress considered too deadlocked and too bound to special interests, House Democrats had to show a willingness to fight. If they want a chance to eventually change the composition of the legislative branch and one day pass comprehensive gun control measures — a real possibility, with Donald Trump leading the Republican Party in November — Democrats have to “make a little noise,” As Rep. Lewis put it.

The 76-year-old Georgia congressman knows a thing or two about fighting against the odds, and about the importance of getting the public’s attention in order to put pressure on the government to eventually urge legislative action. Rep. Lewis used the same method, a the sit-in, to fight for the civil rights of black people in the deep South alongside Martin Luther King Jr.

This sort of stunt isn’t new to the Congress, either. In 2008, House Republicans staged a similar protest to push for a vote on offshore drilling. As then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to adjourn Congress for summer break, GOP members refused to leave. She shut off the lights.

After the Orlando tragedy that killed 49 people in the worst mass shooting in American history, gun control has become one of the most debated issues in the nation. With 90 percent of people now supporting stricter gun control, according to a recent CNN poll, Democrats know how valuable focusing on guns will be in November. It doesn’t hurt that, at least judging from videos of the sit-in, Democratic legislators are as angry about the lack of inaction on the issue as their constituents.

That’s especially true after Republicans like Rep. Steve King refused to update their views to match the demands of most Americans. “I’ve had it with the gun grabbing Democrats and their sit-in anti 2nd amendment jihad” The Iowa congressman said on Twitter. “I’m going to go home and buy a new gun.”

Democrats are betting that gun control will remain an issue for the next few months, and they’re itching to re-stage the fight with a Congressional majority. After his own “publicity stunt,” – a 15-hour filibuster for gun control – Senator Chris Murphy announced that he would use the momentum to get people to vote next November. “I’m going to be turning my attention to the November election. I’m going to take some of my energy and help make sure that people who cast the wrong vote don’t come back.” He said after ending the filibuster.

“We are going to win,” said Rep. Lewis on the capitol floors as he left his latest sit-in protest. “So don’t give up, don’t give in. Keep the faith, and keep your eyes on the prize.”

 

Photo: A photo shot and tweeted from the floor of the House by U.S. House Rep. John Yarmuth shows Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Rep. Joe Courtney (L) and Rep. John Lewis (C) staging a sit-in on the House floor “to demand action on common sense gun legislation” on Capitol Hill in Washington, United States, June 22, 2016.  REUTERS/U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth/Handout

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15 Comments

  1. Dominick Vila June 23, 2016

    Whether or not Democrats lost this battle remains to be seen. Much depends on how the Democratic party, and our presumptive nominee handles this issue. If we remind the public, often and forcefully, there is a good chance their quest may bear fruit in November. Remember, their sit in had absolutely nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment, their goal was to pass legislation prohibiting the sale of weapons to terrorist suspects, and those on the no-fly list. There is absolutely nothing in the 2nd Amendment endorsing the sale of weapons to enemies of the United States, an act of high treason that should be enough to fire and prosecute all the members of Congress who decided to aid and abet our enemies.

    Reply
    1. dtgraham June 23, 2016

      That last paragraph of yours is one heck of a great narrative and meme that you’ve been mentioning lately. It’s not just true, it’s also a compelling argument and slogan. That’s outstanding, and I wish the Democrats would start using it. Hopefully, some of them read the National Memo.

    2. FT66 June 24, 2016

      Second Amendment doesn’t allow every citizen to be armed. Taking advantage of it doesn’t show those who are applying it are really thinking.

  2. Insinnergy June 23, 2016

    Translation:
    The Republicans value the money given to them by the NRA, and the threat of being “Primaried” by the NRA, more than:
    1) The will of a huge majority of the American people.
    2) The will of a majority of actual NRA Members.
    3) The many deaths of Americans that occur every week.
    4) Stopping terrorists (foreign and domestic) from easily buying weapons of mass murder.
    5) Stopping convicted criminals and domestic abusers from easily buying weapons.
    6) Allowing scientific research into gun violence and how to make America safer for all.

    Greedy, against everything, science-denying, and now reality- and democracy-denying.
    What a sad, shallow bunch of old white men.

    Contrast how outraged they were at Benghazi where 4 Americans died. Yet helping terrorists to multiply American deaths domestically appears to be no issue.

    Reply
    1. Independent1 June 24, 2016

      What the Dems need to make the GOP lovers realize is that more than 50% of the many deaths of Americans that occur each week because of excess guns, are more than likely people who support the GOP. Because it’s red states where the majority of gun deaths occur and they occur most frequently among those who own guns – and it’s also red states that by far have the highest gun ownership.

      So that by kowtowing to the NRA and refusing to do something about gun background checks or other legislation to reduce gun violence, Republicans are subjecting more of their own supporters to the probabilities of being killed by a gun; than they are any other political block of people. And given that their voting block is already shrinking – they really can’t afford to be killing off their ideological base by making them more prone to gun deaths. (Remember – Florida has essentially been GOP governed for at least 12 years.)

      1. GodBlessRealAmerica! August 6, 2016

        Crooked Hillary!!!!

  3. Siegfried Heydrich June 23, 2016

    The dems have themselves an issue in which they can claim YUUUUUGE support’ While the NRA wields incredible clout in Congress, this is political jui-jitsu, which will use that clout against them by painting them as fanatics who care about one thing and one thing only, and who are willfully blind to the desires of the people. They can tie the republicans into this, because they are owned outright by the NRA.

    All the dems need to do is remain calm, rational, stay on message, make the points that test well with the public, and let the gun nuts go absolutely berserk. What’s going to hurt them is that they are (almost by definition) hysterical, hyperbolic, and completely over the top in ALL of their messaging. They can’t address the issue rationally, it’s always some screaming paranoid conspiratorial codswallop that people are getting sick and tired of hearing, while it’s the daily diet of the wingnuts. What they see as perfectly reasonable arguments sounds like sheer madness outside of the echo chamber.

    As Insin says below, this is something that has overwhelming support out in the real world. This is an issue that can absolutely devastate the GOP if used adroitly. The sit-in was the opening skirmish in a battle about to be joined. The dems aren’t afraid to take this issue on now, and the American people respect strength. By forcing the republicans to openly and overtly pander to the NRA repeatedly, it will wound them deeply going into the november election.

    Make the election a referendum on two things. Drumpf and guns. The republicans will destroy themselves defending both.

    Reply
    1. Independent1 June 24, 2016

      What you’re saying should play well with common sense rational people; the only question is: Will it go over well with the radicals that seem to make up those who support today’s Republican politicians. Let’s sure hope so – we could use to take over both houses of Congress. It’s asking a lot – but one has to hope for miracles sometimes.

    2. CrankyToo June 24, 2016

      Excellent analysis…. and great advice to the Democrats. Will they be able to summon up the intestinal fortitude necessary to get the job done, or will they acquiesce (yet again) to the forces of evil?

      We’ll see.

      1. dtgraham June 24, 2016

        They didn’t get off to a great start. The idiots fund-raised off of the sit-in. That cheapened it slightly and gave the Republicans some good talking points about them. It’s all in the optics.

    3. GodBlessRealAmerica! August 6, 2016

      liberalism =racist socialism!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Tabatha366998655 June 24, 2016

    I basically get paid close to 6k-8k bucks /month for freelance jobs i do at home. For anyone ready to do basic online work for few hrs a day at your house and get decent payment for doing it… This is perfect for you… http://ulinks.net/1e850

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    Reply
  5. FT66 June 24, 2016

    House Democrats are heros.They have shaken up the gun mongers. Keep up the good work you are doing, and we are behind you.

    Reply
    1. GodBlessRealAmerica! August 6, 2016

      House Democrats are RACIST EVIL LOW ENERGY MORONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. turtlewoman1039 June 27, 2016

    Publicity stunt?
    With vast majority of the US public in favor of background checks, no fly / no buy?
    Unlike 60+ votes against ACA?
    Unlike shutting down the federal government?
    Unlike reading Dr, Seuss on the floor?

    Reply

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