About 40 Democrats in the House of Representatives have decided to do a sit-in. They say they aren’t going to move until the House leadership brings up gun control legislation for a vote by the full House. They even have a hashtag trending to go along with this.
Put aside the issue of gun control for a moment. No really, put it aside for a moment. Let’s talk about tactics. If it helps, insert another issue — maybe one the Democrats don’t like. And for fun, change who is in control of the House of Representatives too — the Democrats. So, just for fun, let’s say there are approximately 40 Republican House members who decided to do a sit-in on the floor of the House chamber over one of their pet issues. Maybe it’s abortion, or tax law, or trade, or something else. It doesn’t really matter what the issue is. This is the tactic they use. They even get a social media hashtag. The exact same tactic.
My question is, would you have a different feeling about this?
You shouldn’t. The tactics that are used matter. The tactics are the public show and the statement about so much more than the issue at hand.
Let me be clear, gun control is a serious issue and deserves to be debated.
Doing a sit-in in the House chamber is childish at best. It reminds me of a group of kindergartners who whine and pitch a fit on the floor in your kitchen and refuse to move because they aren’t getting their way.
It’s short term political theater. And it drives me nuts.
It’s a “my way or the highway” way of thinking about legislation. It only gives the Republicans an opportunity to come out looking bad, so why should they cooperate? The longer it goes, the less likely it is that the stunt will be successful. Now it’s a game of chicken and whoever blinks first loses. Since the Republicans control the chamber and the agenda, they aren’t going to blink. It was a smart move by Speaker Ryan to adjourn until after July 4. No one will be paying attention to this for that long. And the Democrats will end up giving up and not getting what they want. And what will that have accomplished?
Here’s something longer term. When you pull a stunt like this, you should expect to have the same thing happen to you when you take over control of the chamber. There really ought not be any complaints when the Republicans pull an equally juvenile stunt for short term gain. But of course there will be.
Again, switch the Democrats and Republicans — how are you feeling about the tactic? Or is your loyalty to party more important? Is your side winning most important? Do the ends justify the means?
The ends do not justify the means. There are rules in the House of Representatives so that it can function like a group of adults — or it is supposed to. The House of Representatives was set up so that the majority has complete control of the chamber. The way to change that to get the legislation you want to come up is by getting different people elected, or to cut deals, to work within the system. That’s the rules. As Obama famously said: elections have consequences.
Yes, I know there is a lot of jerrymandering. Both parties are guilty of that. Again, elections have consequences, in that case it is the elections of state legislatures.
Taking over the chamber is childish and diminishes the chamber. Congress already has enough issues with people trusting it. Now you have a bunch of whiny children taking over the floor. This is not the way to get a vote on gun legislation or any legislation for that matter. This is a way to further divide people and think in a winner/loser mentality. My hope is this tactic fails. Not because gun control isn’t worthy of debating and voting on, but because long-term, this tactic is harmful to our way of governing.
You may not like hearing this, but it is true — How is this type of tactic any different than Trump warning people there would be riots if he didn’t get the nomination. It was a childish statement of crying and pitching a fit and demanding things be done his way.
People who have childlike, winner-take-all mentalities issue threats, do sit-ins, and generally try to muscle their way to get what they want regardless of the opposition or anyone else. That is a form of tyranny — the rule of humans over the rule of law. The rule of one person, or a small group of people, who decide what the law will be because it’s what they want.
Those who embrace liberty and freedom do things differently. They live according to an agreed upon set of rules recognizing that sometimes they will get their way and other times they won’t. But they know that the rules are mostly fair and strive to apply equally to all. They follow the rules established, think long-term, talk and discuss, consider opposing positions and make a decision. I’m not saying the Republicans are saints here — not by any means. I am saying the Democrats aren’t helping themselves here.
They had other options. But they decided to make a power play. It will fail as it should. Which is a shame. Gun control is an issue that we should be debating and coming to some kind of consensus about as a nation.