Monday, March 29, 2010


Is this what democracy looks like?

With the passage of the health-insurance reform bill, congressional representatives have a lot of unhappy constituents — some, as I, unhappy because it doesn’t go far enough, and some unhappy because it goes too far. There are many who wanted no change at all.

But that’s the way things work in a representative democracy. Many of us try to influence our legislators by writing to them, by publicly writing about our ideas, by campaigning and protesting. Whether or not we agree with those writing letters and marching in the streets, we support the exercise of our first-amendment rights to petition our government.

We do not, though, petition our government with bricks and with threats.

From the New York Times article:

Democratic lawmakers have received death threats and been the victims of vandalism because of their votes in favor of the health care bill, lawmakers and law enforcement officials said Wednesday, as the Congressional debate over the issue headed toward a bitter and divisive conclusion.

Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland and the majority leader, said at least 10 House members had raised concerns about their personal security since Sunday’s climactic vote, and Mr. Hoyer characterized the cases as serious.

And from the Washington Post:

“To all modern Sons of Liberty: THIS is your time. Break their windows. Break them NOW.”

These were the words of Mike Vanderboegh, a 57-year-old former militiaman from Alabama, who took to his blog urging people who opposed the historic health-care reform legislation — he calls it “Nancy Pelosi’s Intolerable Act” — to throw bricks through the windows of Democratic offices nationwide.

And bricks have, indeed, been thrown. Offices — and houses — have been vandalized. At least so far, no one’s been hurt.

Nancy Pelosi reminds us that “these threats have no place in our country,” and that’s absolutely true. The vote doesn’t always go your way, and many of us had eight years to get used to that in the Bush regime. We debated, we wrote, we protested. We took our arguments to our legislators, to the Internet, and to the streets. We urged the impeachment of the president and we campaigned against those who passed laws we didn’t like.

Even in the worst of times, we overthrow our government in the election booth, and we throw our stones by flipping levers and punching holes, and making sure our chad is not hanging nor pregnant.

And we bring change about with words and the sharing of ideas. Not with bricks, or worse.

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