They were baby steps. They were overdue, they were punctuated with trips and falls, they were cheered.
The Senate has just taken its own first baby steps. I'm every bit as conflicted and proud as I was in my basement nearly three decades ago. I want to congratulate them as I wonder what took them so long.
There has been much hue and cry over how very little this cloture vote accomplished. Talking heads can't get past the fact that a ban on assault weapons is not on the agenda. Over-sized magazines are not being discussed. There's not been a vote on background checks. The debate has been allowed to happen. They say that this is not enough.
I go back to my son's baby steps, and I have to smile. He didn't run a marathon that first evening. He didn't jump or skip or walk backwards. There was no balancing on one foot, no marching in place, no leaping. He walked, wobbling from side to side, returning every few seconds to touch one of us, seeking reassurance that we were still there, where he'd left us, approving of this new behavior. He was right; we were thrilled.
So, today, as the cloture vote was held, I choose to be thrilled that sixty-eight Senators took a baby step in the right direction.
I choose to be delighted that two Grade A NRA rated Senators found common ground across the aisle and created a bill that could be discussed. I sent tweets to Senators Toomey and Manchin congratulating them on their bravery and assured them that their actions will be remembered when election time comes around.
Why? Because fear is the limiting factor, it seems to me. The NRA and its organizing and fund-raising juggernaut has been around for a while, and shows no signs of disappearing. The noise we're making on the other side has been loud enough to create a disturbance, but we've not shown that we're in it for the long haul. Not yet, at least.
It's reasonable to assume that elected officials like their jobs, and plan to keep them. Taking risky positions is not the first place one would go if reelection is a critical piece of the decision making process. If our representatives can be assured that the noise will not abate, that the dollars will continue to flow, that the issue demands ongoing attention, and that their actions will be monitored and remembered and supported, then, perhaps, there's a chance that the next baby step, a vote on sensible background checks, will reflect the will of the 90% of Americans who think that they are a good idea.
This won't happen by thinking good thoughts. This won't happen by smiling that the Senate agreed to talk about the issue. This won't happen if you agree and do nothing. It takes a country to change a mindset, just as it takes a village to raise a child. My son was protected from bumping into the walls, from falling down the stairs, from crashing into the table legs, by those who cared, who stepped up to help him, who were paying attention.
I'm going to make it easy for you. I'm going to add contact information to The Burrow's sidebar, and hope that those who read these pieces for other issues will not feel unwelcome. I'm listing the organizations which I think are doing good things, and which can use your support. I'm going to encourage you to make your voices heard by reminding your Senators, and your Representatives when the vote comes to them, that you are paying attention, that you care, that you are watching, that you will remember in November.
It's the first step toward making this the kind of nation that Christina-Taylor imagined it could be. Thanks for helping.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg's the moving force behind this group.
Moms Demand Action
Created after the Newtown shootings.
Americans for Responsible Solutions
Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly's PAC, bringing the fight to the voters.
To contact your elected officials in Washington, DC, follow the links for phone numbers/emails/addresses:
House of Representatives www.house.gov/representatives/find/
Twitter lists are fluid; this is the best one I found. Some of the accounts have been disabled, but most of the ones I checked randomly were functional.
Remember to compliment them when they act appropriately and castigate them politely and reasonably. As my kids remind me, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Believe me, I know how hard it is to maintain that attitude, but ......
If you want to get started, keep this window open, click here to open a new window, and toggle between the two as you cut and paste your message. It takes some time, but it's worth the effort. If all we do is holler at them, we're no better than the other side. Thank yous make a difference ... so does telling them that you will remember their actions. Have fun!!