Friday, April 12, 2013

Baby Steps

He took his first steps, drunk on champagne, at his first birthday party.  It wasn't the way his father and I had anticipated the big event, but anticipate we had.  We'd waited and watched as his little friends ventured out on their own, upright and proud, amazed at their new skill.  He was slower than they, perhaps more aware of the dangers that lay ahead.  He was tentative, unwilling to try unless he was certain he would get it right, be perfect, do it well.  That afternoon, released by the presence of three sips of celebratory imbibing (also unplanned), he took off from the comfort of his father's lap.  He's never looked back.

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

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!!


  1. I'm with Little Cuter! Big fist bump. :) I sent this quote over to the head of our Moms Demand Action group yesterday from Senator Leahy. I think it's great because he "gets it".

    "We are the 100 senators elected to represent more than 314 million Americans. We are accountable to them, not to special interests lobbies on the left or the right. They should not dictate what we do," he said. "I urge all senators to be less concerned with special interest score cards and more focused on fulfilling our oath to faithfully discharge the duties of our offices as United States senators."

    I have to keep reminding myself how far we have come, but it sure is bittersweet. We shouldn't have to fight for the safety of our children or our society. And we sure as heck shouldn't be having to fight a special interest group that gets more of our Congress people's time than we do.

    Have a great weekend! :)

    Megan xxx

    1. We shouldn't but we do and YOU do! You are my hero - with all you have on your plate, you've stepped up and taken this on as well. Love the quote.. and love that Mayor Bloomberg is making his own List with its own ratings.

  2. John McCain and Jeff Flake? I'm giddy with excitement! I wonder which call(s) put them over the edge? AB, congratulate yourself because you have made it easy for people to contact them...and you've been our own little Jiminy Cricket whispering in our ear (or shouting) to DO SOMETHING! I thank you!

    1. Jiminy Cricket, eh?! I love it :).. and you, too, Sharon <3

  3. It was at your urging that I made my first political action call to Sen. Flake and now YAY!!! What great positive reinforcement for ME to get involved! Your link for the Mom's group isn't correct, will you please post it again. I think it's just a copy/paste double post. Thanks!

    Thanks again for the encouragement!!!


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