Over the course of the last few days as the country has sat glued to the tragic events unfolding in Boston, while keeping an eye on the aftermath of the Texas fertilizer plant explosion, it’s understandable that the Senate’s gun vote on background checks from earlier in the week, has been almost completely forgotten. But here is why the votes of 46 Senators, 4 Democrats and 42 Republicans, mustn’t be allowed to fade from our public consciousness.
As the heroic emergency services and first responders in Massachusetts and Texas were putting their lives on the line to protect and care for their fellow citizens, proving yet again the bravery and moral decency of ordinary Americans, 46 elected officials were giving a graphic illustration of the moral bankruptcy that has taken root in the legislative branch of our government.
In the aftermath of the Newtown atrocity, and with most polls showing that 90% of the public favored closing the gaping loophole on background checks, why exactly did these Senator’s chose to ignore the wishes of the people they were elected to serve? The answer is both simple and callous, and has provided one of the most graphic examples in recent memory of how that purest of American Democratic ideals; “government by the people, and for the people”, is being threatened by the very people we elected to uphold it.
These cowardly Senator’s including Richard Burr from my own state of North Carolina, ignored their constituents and their consciences, and ensured that violent rapists, terrorists and the mentally ill, will continue be able to get hold of military style automatic weapons with far greater ease than they can pick up a pack of Sudafed. As Vice-President Biden somberly announced the results of the vote, one woman spoke for the moderate majority as she shouted “shame on you” from the gallery. So why did they vote NO, and what does it tell us about what is broken in our political system?
BRIBARY: Firstly they voted this way because many have received election funds from the NRA and other gun-lobby related special interest groups, and they didn’t want to upset their past and future paymasters.
COWARDICE: Secondly, many Republicans have perpetually seen moderate representatives face challenges from well-funded right-wing candidates for their seats, and they didn’t want to arouse the forces of the militant right against them.
CALCULATION: Thirdly, they recognize there is an immigration bill looming, where they will likely need to vote YES in an attempt to win back a small percentage of the growing Hispanic vote, against the wishes of their more extreme right-wing supporters. They were afraid to antagonize this well funded group on back-to-back bills.
So in a week where ordinary heroes were risking their lives to keep their fellow citizens safe, 46 of their elected representatives demonstrated extraordinary cowardice, along with their calculating natures, and a willingness to be bribed.
To echo the words of the woman in the gallery we should all say to them “shame on you”, and for myself I commit to live up to my responsibility as a citizen of the great state of North Carolina, and do all in my power to see that at least one of these unworthy Senators is democratically replaced at the next election.