Democratic members of Congress on Wednesday staged a sit-in on the floor of the House to oppose gun rights.
Now you might say that it’s childish to sit down criss-cross, applesauce on the floor of the House. You might say that this is the first sit-in you recall when members of Congress staged such a stunt in opposition to civil rights. You might note that Democrats twice voted down bills that would have expanded terror list background checks while also protecting the constitutionally protected right of due process.
But why focus on the negative? Democrats have voluntarily taken it upon themselves to grandstand in such a rule-breaking fashion that Republicans declared the House in recess. And that’s a good thing! The less time Congress is voting on bills, the less opportunity they have to take away our constitutionally protected freedoms.
Instead of complaining about Democrats’ anti-civil rights behavior, let’s celebrate it just this once. Let’s help them keep the House in recess for as long as they’re able. Could they keep it going through next year? We can hope!
This is an opportunity for a bit of variation in how we look upon our elected representatives with disdain. One highlight is the lack of self-awareness. As people on Twitter mockingly ask if the toddlers need a juicy cup or goldfish, check out this:
These guys aren’t just serious. They’re granola bar serious. Stand back in awe.
This is also an opportunity to watch hypocrisy in action. After Republicans declared the recess and accordingly turned off the C-SPAN cameras, Democrats were furious and cried out about the unfairness of having cameras taken away from them. But in 2008, Republicans opposed a motion to adjourn before scheduling a vote to allow off-shore drilling. They refused to leave and continued to bash then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for leaving town before a vote. Democrats turned off the lights and microphones and shut off C-SPAN.
As John Bresnahan of Politico wrote at the time:
Democratic aides were furious at the GOP stunt, and reporters were kicked out of the Speaker’s Lobby, the space next to the House floor where they normally interview lawmakers.
‘You’re not covering this, are you?’ complained one senior Democratic aide. Another called the Republicans ‘morons’ for staying on the floor.
Then they sent cops to kick reporters out. In the end, their rebellion only lasted five hours and wasn’t as helpful as the Democrats’ turn because they staged it during recess.
House Republicans oppose an extrajudicial use of so-called terror watch lists because the lists are a civil rights nightmare. People have no right to know if they’re put on the list or why they’re put on the list. Sen. Ted Kennedy was put on the list not because he once killed a woman but for some other unknown reason. Heck, Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights leader currently fighting against civil rights on the House floor, was once on the list.
The mantra of the anti-gun rights lobby is that if you can’t fly on a plane (which is a stricter list than the one they want to use to deny gun rights, but let’s set that aside), you shouldn’t be able to buy a gun.
This suggests the follow-up question: If you can’t fly a plane, should you be allowed inside of the U.S. Capitol full of elected representatives? Or maybe the lists are a nightmare. Even the American Civil Liberties Union is forced to admit that.
The stunt should not embolden those who preen as they try to fight the Bill of Rights. But if it keeps Congress in recess for the time being, that’s not bad at all. Maybe when they’re done, they can go on a never-ending round of golf with the president.