Thursday, June 23, 2016

Sit-ins and town halls

-- The Congressional sit-in yesterday seems to suggest that Hillary Clinton is going to be the president of a much different nation psychologically than has been the case before this year.

Democrats turned the floor of the House of Representatives into the stage of a wild effort to force a vote on gun control on Wednesday.
CSPAN covered the event live and you could watch the event from the Periscope livestream brought onto the floor by one House member, but it’s hard to convey the sense of chaos and outright insanity that gripped one of the most august institutions in American politics on Wednesday.
Among the unusual things that happened on the floor of the US House in just under a couple of hours on Wednesday night:

  • Most of the Democratic House caucus breaking out into a "We Shall Overcome" chant for several minutes, sprinkling reference to overcoming cloture amendments and passing gun control legislation. Outside the Capitol, well over 50 protesters led a song of "We Shall Overcome" and later a call and response of "No Bill, No Break!"
  • Democratic House members shouting "Shame! Shame! Shame!" at the top of their lungs at House Speaker Paul Ryan.
  • Ryan’s attempts to address the Democrats breaking down several times amid shout and chants from the floor. They chanted "No Bill, No Break!" as Ryan lamented the decline of "decorum in this institution to which we belong."
  • Capitol police asking people in the galleries to quiet down with the possibility of removing them.
  • Democrats physically sitting on the floor in an apparent attempt to slow Republicans’s access to vote.
  • Republicans sitting beyond a scrum of the Democrats interrupting speeches by interjecting criticisms. "Rule of law means order!," one shouted as a Democratic House member tried speaking over him from the front of the chamber.
  • Two members of the House of Representatives — Republican Louie Ghomert and Democrat Corrine Brown — screaming in each other’s faces just a few feet away from each other. (Some reporters said on Twitter that it looked as if they were about to get in a physical altercation.)
  • Audible laughs from reporters breaking out in the House press gallery when one Democrat shouted, "This isn’t about partisan politics!"
  • Police escorting out someone after Republicans complained about a gallery visitor who shouted something.
  • Some Congressmembers brought food, pillows, and even sleeping bags, according to CNN.

The Democrats began a sit-in on the House floor early Wednesday a week after a Senate filibuster forced a vote on gun control measures ...

In the modern world of Twitter hashtags ruling the national conversation, #NoBillNoBreak was meekly countered by #StopThisStunt, which shows how effective Paul Ryan has been throughout the demonstration.  There was also the cynics club that weighed in with #DemsNeverSat (for a whole bunch of other atrocities real and imagined, a truism but a digression for pessimists).

Let's neither overstate nor understate the value of yesterday's protest.  Last week it was Chris Murphy's filibuster which grabbed attention -- but alas not any guns, in the hyper-bloviated right-wing response.  These things have importance and meaning so long as they are part of of an ongoing effort toward progress, which really hasn't been the case previously.  If the worst conservatives in the world can surreptitiously record and edit video of Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue and call it "baby-killing for profit", then surely a few folks could camp out in front of Wayne LaPierre's house or the NRA's headquarters and call those bastards practitioners of genocide.  Couldn't they?

-- The Libertarian town hall on CNN, upstaged to some degree by the House demonstration, did get to point out a few inconvenient truths to the D/R political duopoly.

"I'd feel just fine" if Libertarians acted as a spoiler in the election, (Gary) Johnson said. "I believe that the two-party system is a two-party dinosaur and that they're about to come in contact with the comet here. I think that's a real possibility." 
Johnson outlined the challenge of reaching the presidential debates — a feat that could be their only chance of having a significant impact on the race. 
"The only opportunity to win is to actually be in the presidential debates, the Super Bowl of politics. To do that, we've got to be at 15 percent in the polls. To be at 15 percent of the polls you've got to be in the polls," Johnson said. "And right now we see day after day where really it's two candidates running for president — occasionally they throw in our names." 
(William) Weld followed by conceding that merely getting into the debates would be "harder" than the task of persuading people they were the better alternative than the Republicans or Democrats.

There's a significantly greater percentage of the American electorate that no longer wants to think -- or play -- inside the two-party box.  Sign the petition to open the debates.

1 comment:

Gadfly said...

A cynic (and sometimes a Cynic), not a pessimist. #DemsNeverSat was kind of fun.