"You've got to stand for something if you want to win"
by Tom Sullivan
The 2014 midterm elections were a disaster for Democrats across the country. Appearing on Meet the Press afterwards, former DNC chair Gov. Howard Dean complained about their lack of message, “Where the hell is the Democratic party? You've got to stand for something if you want to win."
It takes more than that. You've got to demonstrate you are willing to fight for it too.
Yesterday, some Democrats finally did. By sitting down for over twelve hours to demand a vote on "no fly, no buy" gun control legislation. In the wake of the Orlando shootings, they'd had enough:
Georgia congressman John Lewis deployed a strategy from his days as a civil rights activist and coupled it with social media to stage a dramatic sit-in Wednesday on the House floor with his fellow Democrats to force a vote on gun control — and disrupt political business as normal well into the night.
"Sometimes you have to do something out of the ordinary, sometimes you have to make a way out of no way," said Lewis, one of the last living icons of the civil rights movement. "There comes a time when you have to say something, when you have to make a little noise, when you have to move your feet. This is the time. Now is the time to get in the way. The time to act is now. We will be silent no more."
We are one people, one family, one America. We must come together to fight the senseless plague of gun violence. https://t.co/nuK39eqSAG— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) June 22, 2016
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) refused to allow a vote, the presiding Republican recessed the body and shut off the cameras, but the protest continued, broadcast via social media.
Rep Duckworth left her wheelchair to join the sit in. This is what @SpeakerRyan won't let you see. #NoBillNoBreak pic.twitter.com/3855o2cPOZ— aaronhoff (@aaronhoff) June 22, 2016
So I'm meeting with @keithellison. His scheduler walks in and hands him this note. Meeting ends :) #NoBillNoBreak pic.twitter.com/JwnusZKZuo— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) June 22, 2016
Late last night, Ryan managed to adjourn the House until after the July 4th break:
After a chaotic, daylong occupation of the House floor, Republican leaders moved in the middle of the night to cut off House Democrats' gun control "sit-in" by adjourning the House through the July 4 — without a vote on gun control.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) sought to to quell the Democratic demonstration by having lawmakers vote at 2:30 a.m. on several bills they had to pass this week, including one to combat the Zika virus. After that, Republican leaders sent lawmakers home until July 5, starting their already-scheduled recess a few days earlier than planned.
I have no illusions that this is more than a one-off. But perhaps Democrats on the Hill have finally gotten Dean's message. The rest of their candidates and their presidential nominee had best pay heed. Voters will stand with candidates who show they will fight for them.
Sing me no song, read me no rhyme
Don't waste my time, show me!
Don't talk of June, don't talk of fall
Don't talk at all!
"Show Me" by Lerner & Loewe from My Fair Lady