Well, not quite. But for a few seconds or minutes there on Wednesday night, in the Well of the House, it certainly seemed possible.
It seemed that all we needed to take our place in the history of legislative bodies where “bodies” was the operative word and a thoughtlessly flung rolled-up slab of hand and fingers ends with a reeling backward victim, and then a pummeling rush of a dozen bodies pushed forward, propelled by real anger.
As in Italy and Georgia and Venezuela.
We watched without fascination but with genuine concern. And we woke throughout the same night to see how and whether the state of the House of Representatives had gone over the line.
It seemed to us that the Democrats were asking for just a little favor: please, could we take two votes, up or down, on “No fly, no buy” and expanded background checks? Just to take the votes, winning or losing, would mean a great deal to our constituents, and yours.
Otherwise, the House was set to adjourn after initialing half a dozen other bills before recessing until July 5th.
Paul Ryan took the chair and the gavel, and managed to speak through the noise rising from the Well. One of the things he said was “No, the Senate has already failed to pass the same measures.”
Now, to us beginners, that meant that between them the House and the Senate might have met in committee to thrash out their differences. We guess this did not appeal to the Republicans. Why? Because then the NRA would have been forced to withdraw some of the loot it doles out annually to the campaign committees of the men and women it terrorizes. And just now, right now, those men and women all need that contribution from heaven. All of them are up for re-election in November.
A sidebar: the names of those in the pocket of the NRA should be publicized and voters should (although they may not) remember them in that same November election.
Please note that nothing for which the Democrats asked was a threat to the constitutional rights (as in the 2nd Amendment) of American gun owners.
Also please note that continuous polling over the past few years has told us that Democrats, Republicans, independent gun owners want both parts of this legislative action. Members of the NRA want this as well. The figures often cited are between 85 percent and 90 percent of the public, gun owners included, want the country to be marginally safer.
Connecticut’s Rosa DeLauro spoke slowly, clearly, and accurately. “We are being kept from doing our jobs. We came here as representatives of the people to do their will. We are being deprived of that ability.”
No Democrat demanded victory. Just the simple act of following their constituents’ wishes, win or lose.
But one of the most remarkable facts of our Congresses is that so very few of the men and women in them seem ever to have parents who need social security or health insurance or home health care, children who need to be fed and taught, and a nation which needs to be alert to the signs of malfunction and to fix that malfunction, whatever it is. Most (in the present case, it seems nearly all) Congressmen and women are divorced from the realities the rest of us face daily.
On the eve of the Brexit vote in Britain, our legislators made it clear beyond doubt that today what matters most to them is this: HAVING GUNS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE LIVES THEY CUT SHORT.
Despite the despair we feel as we watch all this, despite having won marksmanship medals as kids in camp, despite our understanding of others’ fears that to be disarmed is to become a target, when will Congress members realize that they too have children who are targets daily, have teenagers who might be on drugs and need rehabilitation, have brothers and sisters (and, again, parents) who wore the US uniform for years in order to make certain that folks at home could continue to live freely and safely?
With Brexit now behind us, and realizing how closely related Britain’s majority sentiments echo what we hear this election season in this country, are we willing to cut ourselves off further from reality and shrug our shoulders, take the NRA’s shilling, and wander into well-paid and pensioned retirement?
Dare we relive the eighteenth century and, like George III ignore without a moment’s thought what the colonies feel and say?
If so, get ready to welcome President Trump.