It is easier to fight if you can feel like you are winning. But this fight is not easy. I don’t speak specifically about gun control, though the NRA and gun manufacturers make certain that is a part of it. I am speaking more about the fight against a government responsive to the needs and desires of special interests, to the detriment of those they theoretically represent.
This week, the “March for Our Lives” took place in Washington, D.C., where hundreds of thousands of people marched for gun control, with corresponding events taking place across the country and around the globe.
The event was organized by students … survivors … of Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, the site of the recent school shooting. (I wanted to say “latest” instead of “recent,” but by the time this is published…)
The actions of these students showed not only youthful exuberance, but a courage to stand representative of national will. Longstanding and numerous polls by Gallup and Pew show that an overwhelming majority of Americans want stricter gun control measures, with, in many cases, even the majority of Republicans in favor. For example, according to Pew, 80% of Democrats and a full 54% of Republicans support banning assault-style weapons.
It is difficult to decide what is most impressive about the students who organized and participated in the “March for Our Lives” — how they turned their passion, their anger, into action, or the depth of understanding they showed.
Often young people are accused by older generations of living in a world of social media, of only the most surface level interaction with issues, of the “retweet” and the “like” as activism. But block after block of sign-waving students (that’s a protest pun) seemed to say otherwise. The words of official speakers and random people quoted at the event, who talked about high-capacity magazines, bump stocks, databases and age restrictions, accountability and intersectionality, seemed to say otherwise.
Barack Obama tweeted that he was “inspired” by the event. An interesting choice of words — inspired. A crucial part of that term is being “imbued with the spirit to do something.” So what is the something about gun violence that Obama is imbued with the spirit to do? Maybe run for office and/or obtain a position from which he could enact change?
Not ten years ago, Barack Obama was a Democratic President with a filibuster-proof Democratic majority in both houses of Congress. Columbine, right around its tenth anniversary at this time, had given way to Red Lake, to Virginia Tech, and would, later in Obama’s presidency, give way to Sandy Hook. Yet no serious gun control legislation was passed.
This weekend, people like Pelosi and Schumer and Clinton, people carrying around the stain of failure on gun control in a similar way to Obama, tweeted their support for the protesters.
I am less concerned with what they tweet now, when they are powerless to do anything, than what they will actually do should this hypothetical blue wave sweep a Democrat into the White House in 2020, and Democrats into control of both houses.
“Vote them out!” was a common refrain from those marching for our lives. If the implied meaning is, vote out Republicans and replace them uncritically with Democrats, then perhaps the fight is already lost.
But if the implied meaning is to vote out political opportunists and those who unflinchingly represent special interests and replace them with people representing their constituents, then this is a fight which certainly has the power-players quaking.