Thursday, June 23, 2016

Democrats with spine

Yesterday I mentioned that Democrats were occupying the US House floor to demand a vote on gun reforms. I had just a snippet of the news yesterday. I have a much fuller report now.

The leader of the effort is Rep. John Lewis of Georgia. In the 1960s he was one of those beaten at the start of the march to Montgomery. He's been a stalwart defender of civil rights his whole life.

The sit-in started about 11:30 am. yesterday. The Speaker controls the CSPAN cameras, so those were turned off. The House was supposed to be called into session long enough to go on its July 4 break. The Dems sitting in the well of the floor chanted, "no bill, no break."

Senator Chris Murphy, the one who led the filibuster in the Senate and who got the Senate to take a vote (which failed), joined the crowd in the House floor. As did many other senators, even Harry Reid.

In addition to turning off the TV cameras the Seargeant at Arms has refused to allow the public into the galleries and has ordered House members to stop sharing photos and video from the House floor. That demand was ignored. Dems held a press conference outside the House chamber. This isn't controlled by the Speaker so C-SPAN covered it.

C-SPAN didn't like Speaker Ryan's refusal to allow them to film the sit-in. Rep. Scott Peters (CA) streamed video onto Periscope. C-SPAN tapped into that Periscope feed to show action in the House chamber.

Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) tweeted:
Calling this a sit-in is a disgrace to Woolworth's. That sit-in was for rights. Dems are "sitting-in" to strip them away.
Joe Meldelson responded:
John Lewis would probably be happy to educate you on sit-ins. Perhaps you could ask him?
Here's a bit of background on Lewis:
Rep. Walker appears to be unaware that former Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee chairman John Lewis, Freedom Rider, man who spoke alongside Martin Luther King Jr. on the day King gave his I Have a Dream speech, man whose skull was fractured by police beatings on Bloody Sunday, may know a little something about what the civil rights sit-ins were about.
A meeting between Lewis and Walker might provide a bit of quality television.

Speaker Ryan tried to break the sit-in by bringing up another bill for a vote. That meant the cameras were on showing a chaotic chamber. Ryan can't be heard over the chanting by Dems and those in the Gallery. Even so, the vote proceeded.

Whoever chose this bill as the one to attempt to break the sit-in must be completely tone-deaf. This vote was to repeal a fiduciary rule, one that says investment advisers must give advice in the best interest of their clients, not on whatever product gives the adviser the best kick-back. Meaning it's a bill to allow Wall Street to swindle seniors. The nature of the bill meant a 2/3 approval was necessary. Didn't happen.

A huge crowd gathered outside the House chamber chanting, "Do your job!"

The Dem sit-in continued overnight. As for Republicans... they decided it would be a real good idea to start their July 4 break on June 23 and fled.

On to the analysis. Why go through all this effort knowing Ryan won't allow a vote and if he did the vote would fail? Isn't this contributing to Congressional dysfunction or violating the sanctity of parliamentary process?

Why the effort? Because political theater, especially with the public on your side, is very powerful. It shows the obstruction, as of now, is solely on the GOP side. If the Dems retake the Senate (possible) and House (a much longer shot) then they can get stuff done – such as these gun bills. For this bit of theater the Dems are keeping the message quite focused. The GOP refused to allow a vote on this.

Accusing Dems of adding to the Dysfunction? After years of what the GOP has been doing?

More analysis: Ryan is screwed. Can you imagine the storm if he ordered Lewis to be physically removed? The GOP has no good out. And the story overshadowed Trump's latest attempt at a speech – in which fact-checkers found 30 gigantic lies in a 40 minute speech.

And more: Ryan said the sit-in is nothing but a "publicity stunt" about "trying to get attention." Well, yes it is, which isn't a bad thing. And the attention they're trying to get is yours. They want you to see the vast majority (90%) of voters want meaningful action on guns.

The sit-in has ended. For now. It will likely resume after the July4 recess.

I have a blog tag, used to categorize posts, that says "Democrat Wimps." I'm not using it today.

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