Eleven years ago today, I brought my son home to die.
I can’t describe to you how that feels. Unless you have lived it, you can’t even begin to know.
It was the end of hope, if you can imagine that.
Early that morning, my son and I sat in his living room. I had a cup of coffee, he had finished his. He looked so thin, so frail, but I still hoped we might have a few months, a road trip to the Northeast, just a little time.
“I’m ready for this to be over, Mom,” he said.
He had fought like hell for three years — the first year of that fight devoted to having someone who could help him take notice of his plight. In Savannah, at Memorial Health System, he had been ignored — at one time, spending 11 days in a hospital room not being seen by a single doctor because they had written him off as not profitable enough to deserve to live. They even neglected to treat a life-threatening infection that developed in his surgical wound.
We had gotten him a consultation with Dr. Herb Hurwitz at Duke University Medical Center, and Hurwitz had adopted him. Hurwitz and his team fought like hell for my son, but it was too late already by the time we got to them.
Two weeks ago, Mike had been told he needed to gain two pounds. I had gone to the Duke Chapel that afternoon to beg for those two pounds. I just wanted more time. I wasn’t ready to let go of hope. In hindsight, I wasn’t ever going to be ready to let go of him.
We got to the clinic and Mike slipped off his leather coat and stepped on the scale. He had lost a pound. This was it. It was over.
I’ll never forget the look on his face when he said, “I tried!” If only I could forget that moment. If only I could erase the image.
Dr. Hurwitz’s eyes filled with tears as he said, “You’re a good person, Mike. You don’t deserve what’s happening to you.”
I have since found that most Republicans are cautious with their sympathy. They want to know whether he was working when he got sick, as though unemployment deserves the death penalty.
When I call them out on it, they insist, “some people just want a handout.”
First of all, nobody “just wants a handout.” People want the dignity of access to lifesaving care.
Secondly, health care is not ever a handout. It is a basic human right, and we have a word for people who would deny others a basic human right that they, themselves, have. We call them fascists.
If you think my son deserved to die because insurance companies wouldn’t cover him and doctors at Memorial Health System in Savannah, Ga., wouldn’t care for him, you are a fascist in my book. “Profit before people” is about the shortest accurate definition of fascism there is.
I think that moment when we realized there was nothing more we could do was when I became convinced that my heart would stop when his did. I couldn’t picture life without him, so I would go with him.
As we were headed back to the parking garage, Mike turned around in his wheelchair and said, “What do you think I have, Mom? Two weeks?”
“God, I hope it’s more than that,” I said.
It wasn’t. In two weeks to the day, he would die. His heart would stop and mine would keep beating.
If you think I sound pissed as I watch the Democratic Party try to prepare me to accept another “centrist” candidate for president, another 1960s-era Republican who doesn’t care how many people die as long as the economy is growing, you’re right. I am.
You can curse me all you want for refusing to play that game any longer. Somewhere near a half million people have died the same way my son did in these last 11 years.
I do what I do so your child won’t die the way mine did.
I have every right to withhold my vote from people who don’t care enough about these human lives to fight for them.
In fact, I expect the same commitment from everyone who knows we need a universal health care system NOW. Not in another 11 years, but within two.
Believe me, I’d rather be with my son than be battling this kind of ignorance here now.
DO NOT try to convince me to vote for another right-winger for president. The creature currently squatting in the White House is not my fault. I voted for your “centrist” in 2016. You didn’t learn from that defeat. You will not get my vote again unless you put up an acceptable candidate.
Eleven years ago today, I learned what it was to lose all hope. We would have exactly two weeks left with my son.
I don’t even keep count of how many times I’ve been asked to sign one or another online petition, as though it would make any difference at all in public policy.
Let me be honest here — I don’t ever sign them because they are meaningless. Government lawmakers and policymakers don’t give a damn about what we think. They care only about the people who fund their campaigns. That’s it.
Every time someone posts a petition on my timeline on Facebook, I explain that I don’t sign online petitions, and people argue that of course signing a meaningless petition is “taking action.”
No, it isn’t. Sitting at your computer and typing in your name and address is effortless, and the people in power know that. You risk nothing because you have done nothing. They know you’re not likely to get off your butt and take any real action.
A million signatures is one thing, but a million faxes, phone calls, e-mails or visits from real human beings shows them we mean business.
If you want to fill out a form that makes a difference, fill out a voter registration form, and follow it up by filling out a ballot. That’s what will make a difference.
Work to get a worthy candidate elected. Make phone calls, knock on doors. You can make phone calls after work, even for a half hour once a week. Get that candidate’s name out there.
I know this works because I live in the most gerrymandered district in the most gerrymandered state in the nation. In 2014, our Republican state representative was considered safer than anyone. He was going to be the next Speaker of the NC House.
But then something amazing happened. We, his constituents, got mad. Enough was enough. He refused to listen to us, hearing instead only the monied interests who had paid for his election.
I made calls, I showed up to knock on doors, and registered Republicans were happy to hear someone was running against him. People turned out to vote, and we sent that little weasel home.
That was in 2014. So, what happened to the seat in 2016? The Republicans couldn’t find anyone to oppose Brian Turner. He ran unopposed.
Across the county, Nathan Ramsey, a moderate Republican, was elected in 2012, and he was bullied into voting with the extreme right wing of the party.
Something good happened there, too: John Ager, a farmer who had never been in politics, decided to run. Again, his supporters worked hard and he won, both in 2014 and 2016. And no one ever signed an online petition saying his election would be a good thing.
These people who are trashing our Democracy think they’re safe. They don’t care what we want and no petition is going to change their behavior. The only way to make things better is to send them home, and you don’t do that with online petitions.
So, go ahead, sit at your desk and type in your name on meaningless petition after meaningless petition, and do you know what will change?
Not a damn thing, that’s what.
I know the petitions’ sponsors want you to think differently, but petitions are what they use to raise money. You sign their petition decrying the injustice du jour and then a screen pops up asking you to donate money, so — what? They can generate more petitions?
Get up off your butt and get out there. Attend a march, meet other human beings who share your interests and work with them to make change. Meet and talk to the candidates who are opposing those in power. Find out how you can help.
We don’t all have to engage in civil disobedience and get arrested. There are plenty of ways to be active without risking arrest. But we all need to find real ways to contribute because Democracy is participatory, and signing an online petition is not participating, it’s lazy.
I was ready to make a very public exit from the Democratic party if Tom Perez won the chairmanship, but other events Saturday raised my hopes for the party.
It started with the precinct cluster meetings in the morning. I’m vice-chair of my precinct (45.1 in Buncombe County, NC), and in previous years, the chair, John Parker, and I had to scramble to get five people out to a meeting so we could have a quorum. We had to make calls and get people to the meetings so our precinct wouldn’t lose our “organized” status.
“Can you just stop by for a half hour while we vote on resolutions and elect officers?” we begged. We were able to keep organized, but barely.
Yesterday, instead of begging for people to show up, we had 16 people, several of whom were young and progressive. The others were from a retirement community, and I was afraid they might be conservative Democrats like the ones who killed several progressive resolutions last year, but they were old-style progressives who decided to become active again so we could take our party back from pro-corporate influences.
Last year a conservative banker convinced people to vote against a resolution calling for re-regulation of the banks and against a resolution calling for a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. He wouldn’t stop talking until he had the votes to defeat these two resolutions.
This year, the banker was nowhere to be seen and both resolutions passed unanimously, along with resolutions calling for an immediate raise in the minimum wage to $15, plus one calling for a single-payer health care system. In all, we passed nearly a dozen progressive resolutions, all unanimously.
I wrote two resolutions — the ones calling for the $15 minimum wage and Medicare for all — and most of the precincts passed them without amendments. One precinct leader asked if the minimum wage resolution could be amended to phase in the $15 over three to five years. I told them no. If you’re making $7.25 an hour, five years without a living wage is not an option. The raise is needed now, and in five years, inflation adjustments should have it up to about $20. People need to be able to feed, clothe and shelter their families NOW, not in five years.
“Well, these a pretty conservative people,” the precinct chair said.
“Those are the very people we need to outnumber to take the party back,” I said. “Go ahead and write your own resolution, but mine stays as is.”
These new party activists were Bernie Sanders supporters, determined to move the Democratic Party back to its FDR progressivism, back to the days when LBJ signed the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts. They were inspired by the organization, Our Revolution, which is comprised of progressive fighters.
I left the precinct meeting with renewed faith that we can do this.
From there, I went to speak at an Our Revolution rally downtown. We had 500 people turn out to call for improvements to our health care system, from support of keeping and improving the ACA, to a public option in the marketplace, to single-payer.
I told my son’s story and reminded people that 45,000 Americans died the same way every year before the ACA took effect. We’re still losing 15,000 to 20,000 in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid.
What I saw yesterday was a determination to take the Democratic Party left again.
When it was announced that Tom Perez won the party chair election, we were encouraged by the fact that the election was close and that our candidate, Keith Ellison, is now the vice-chair and that Perez has vowed to work closely with him.
I am encouraged. We have to remember that the Republican right wing has worked since the 1960s to achieve what it has, and that in one election cycle, we progressives have made remarkable progress.
So, let’s follow the Indivisible playbook. Let’s take this nation back in the 2018 elections, despite gerrymandering, despite voter suppression laws. We are the majority. If we work for this, and most importantly, if we vote, we will not fail.
We birthed a movement yesterday.
Millions of us came out to tell the people in power that we will not tolerate the dismantling of the social contract we have built over the last 300 years.
We came out and showed the world what a peaceful demonstration looks like. More than a million people in Washington demonstrated without a single arrest. Not one.
While we waited in a line a half mile long to board a train to the city, we sang freedom songs, chanted and learned a little about each other.
Things even got silly as we chanted, “What do we want? A RIDE! When do we want it? NOW!”
It took us four and a half hours to get from the bus to the rally, but we never lost our cool. We were part of it from the moment we stepped off the bus, together in our desire to pursue justice and prevent the carnage the 1 percent wants to release on our country.
Signs ranged from simple two-word slogans (Dump Trump) to profane (This pussy grabs back) to clever (Can’t comb over sexism) to profound ( I march because she deserves every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve her dreams).
My little group of nine women never got into the march area because there was no room. We got close and then couldn’t move in any direction until someone else moved back and we followed, all holding onto each other. We did that three times as we tried to get across the mall to meet the North Carolina delegation, and weren’t successful.
No matter, we were there. We were part of history, and we won’t ever forget that.
While the official government count was 500,000, the mayor of DC said at noon (as crowds of us were still trying to get into the city) there were 680,000. Before the Administration shut down its Twitter account, the Metro Police estimated 1.5 million people. Now, there’s a real fact.
Then, the alternative-fact-er in chief came out and said he had 1.5 million people at his coronation.
He did not. Metro Police told us there were empty seats on every train into the city on Coronation Day. An elevator operator at L’Enfant Plaza told us he was able to squeeze in a quick nap or two, but that on March Day, he hadn’t had a single break.
There are those who say the march was all white people whining about losing, but the diversity was everywhere I looked. I walked beside blacks and whites, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Pagans and more.
This was not about losing an election (which actually, we didn’t, since we won the popular vote by 3 million). We were there for a purpose: to tell the people in power that we expect them to use it with wisdom, compassion and justice.
Now we have to show them we mean it.
I know how wonderful yesterday felt; I’m still basking in the joy of its solidarity. I plan to spend all day today basking in it.
But we have work to do, and lots of it.
What is your next step? What will you do to ensure we keep our liberties intact and move forward rather than backward toward hate and division?
The man who won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote by 3 million is already talking about “alternative facts.” I call them lies and I will continue to call them out. We all have to do that.
They know that if you repeat a lie enough times, people begin to believe it. It’s how we got climate change deniers. It’s how people came to believe Hillary Clinton is a murderer. It’s how that man “won” the election.
This government already is talking about dismantling the entire social contract we have built — public education, Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, the Environmental Protection Agency, Veterans services, disability services and more.
They actually are in the minority, but the public apathy they have fostered, the distrust of government, have had a profound effect on our elections.
We must vote, at the very, very least. As they try to take away our votes with laws aimed at suppressing the votes against them, we have to turn out in numbers so large that they’ll still lose.
And our votes must be informed votes. We must learn about the issues so that the “alternate facts” don’t blind us.
We need our legislators to know our names because we call, write and e-mail each of them at least once a week. If enough of us do that, they’ll know we’ll send them home if they don’t do OUR business.
Several years ago, when I approached Rep. Mark Meadows and introduced myself, he sneered, “Oh, I know who you are.” I was thrilled. I’m trouble.
We all need to be trouble, to keep showing up at demonstrations and letting our legislators know that we’re watching what they’re doing and how they’re voting.
We need to run for office, locally, at the state and at the federal levels.
I felt an energy yesterday that I haven’t felt in many, many years. There was an air of hope that we can change the course of history, and I believe we can.
But we won’t change anything if we just go home, share photos and say, “I was there.”
One friend, a former editor, just bought the Internet domain, www.alternativefacts.me, where I believe he will call out lies. He’s known to call out fake news posts; I assume he’ll do that and more with his web site.
You don’t have to build a web site, but you can call out lies on social media when you see them. Before you share a story, find another source so you know it’s true. I’m pretty careful, but I’ve been fooled a couple times when I didn’t check.
It is our job to continue the work we started yesterday.
We birthed a movement. Now we must nurture it, grow it, work for it and make sure it makes the difference we need.
What are you going to do next?
Stop pretending that the Electoral College or the Department of Justice will come to our rescue like a prince in shining armor to stop the Orange One from taking office on Jan. 20.
The election was in all likelihood stolen by a combination of Russian interference and a little tampering with the technology by GOP operatives, but we are creatures of habit and we won’t hold a new election, nor will we hand the office to the person who won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes.
We have been trained to be lazy and accept what happens — that’s why more than half of us didn’t even bother to vote in the most important election of our lifetimes.
It’s not going to happen, so just get over it.
Blaming voters for the slow-motion coup that has been plotted and executed since Nixon devised the Southern Strategy will not change things, it will only serve to further divide us.
Trying to persuade people who voted for him that they were conned won’t work, either, because they have been brainwashed by the propaganda machine that is Fox News. Arguing with them is a waste of time and energy because they operate in a different reality with different facts. They already believe he won in a landslide.
To continue to concentrate on the sheep who have been led to the slaughter does nothing but divide us, and that weakens us.
I am being realistic here. This man will take office and he will appoint right-wing justices that will change the direction of our nation for decades. He will destroy what little remains of our social safety net and he likely will get us into devastating wars.
So what do we do?
We resist. We band together and work to defeat this vile creature at every turn, using everything we can.
Look at what we are doing here in North Carolina. We have spent the last four years protesting, educating and putting our bodies on the line.
We have sued to overturn unjust laws, and we have won.
We have been arrested by the thousands and brought national attention to the travesties wrought by these right-wing ideologues.
We still have a veto-proof GOP majority in the legislature, but we have a new governor and attorney general. And the courts have ordered the ridiculously gerrymandered districts to be redrawn and new elections held next year.
We continue to resist. Just last week, we packed the gallery to witness the power grab that was about to take place. Some 60 of our number were arrested for refusing to leave, charged with trespass in a public building while it was open to the public (I have been arrested and charged with that twice and have yet to be convicted).
We write to our legislators, even when we know damn well they won’t listen.
Two years ago, I worked my ass off to defeat my state representative, Tim Moffitt, who was among the worst of them. I knocked on doors, I made phone calls, I registered people to vote and gave them rides to the polls. His opponent, Brian Turner, won (and ran unopposed this last time).
We can resist. We can put our bodies on the line when necessary. We can show up and let them know we see and will resist what they are doing.
So, please stop waiting for the Justice Department or the Electoral College to save us.
We must do the work ourselves, together, in solidarity.
I met Josh Brannon two years ago at a Moral Monday event. He was running for Congress in NC District 5, opposing Tea Party darling Virginia Foxx.
This year, he’s running again.
Before Bernie Sanders ever announced he would seek the Democratic nomination for president, Brannon was running on an almost identical platform. It’s the same platform he’s running on this year.
Here in my district, the 11th, we have Mark Meadows, a far-right extremist who was one of the architects of the 2014 government shutdown. In 2014, we put up an incredibly weak candidate, a man who is homophobic and Islamophobic and who had pretty poor people skills.
This year, we have Rick Bryson, a native of Bryson City (yes, the town is named for his family), who has a plan to draw good jobs to the region and who will support progressive policies across the board.
So, here’s the deal. We can work for people like Josh Brannon and Rick Bryson, people who will lead us to a better, fairer, more progressive future, or we can sit and whine because Bernie didn’t take it all.
You can’t change the direction of the nation in a single vote, much as we who supported Bernie wished it to be so.
The extremists on the right started small. I remember hearing in the fundamentalist church I attended as a child in the 1960s that “we” needed to start with school boards and town councils and work our way up; that this was the only way to take over the country.
And that’s what they did. As a reporter, I learned the buzz words they used to identify one of their own in an election.
“Family values,” “traditional values,” “creation science,” and more. When I heard these words, I knew to ask questions about policy, and most of the time, the true colors of a religious zealot came out.
Asking a Right to Life Party member about nuclear policy, I got the answer that we kill more people with abortion than with nukes. I asked about economic policy and got more of the same. No matter what I asked, the answer was about abortion. In a race that was nonpartisan, that was important for people to know.
School board members decide what will be in our schools’ curricula whether they will learn the science of evolution or the religion or “creation science;” whether they learn the truth about human reproduction or the proven failures of “just say no” abstinence education.
We all know now what happens to education, health care, voting rights, workers’ rights and more when we elect right-wing zealots to state legislatures. Just look at places like North Carolina, Kansas and Texas.
When we don’t vote and the zealots do, we get what they want, not what most Americans want.
Still, most of us sit home on Election Day, especially in off-year and primary elections. I don’t know what people who don’t bother to vote are thinking when they decide not to go to the polls.
And I understand that we who supported Bernie Sanders are really, really disappointed that he didn’t win.
But we have to remember that a president can’t get a whole lot done without support from Congress, and if we allow the radicals and zealots to control Congress, we won’t see any progress toward a more just society.
So, my fellow Bernie fans, we must work toward a Congress that will allow progress and not regression. We have to get out there and roll up our sleeves for people like Josh Brannon and Rick Bryson.
So, just because your choices for president aren’t your first choice, it still is wrong to sit out an election — any election, from school board to city council to state legislature to Congress to president.
Get out and vote this year, even if you can’t bring yourself to vote for president. There are plenty of people down-ticket who will make this a better nation, but they can’t do it without our votes.
On March 23, the North Carolina General Assembly met in special session to pass House Bill 2, or what would become known as the transgender bathroom law.
The outrage was immediate, as it should have been. Transgender people are being forced to use the bathroom assigned to the gender that they no longer identify with.
If you think you don’t know anyone who is transgender, you probably just don’t know who was born with a penis and who was not. You’ve been peeing with them for a long time, I assure you.
The media went wild with news of the bathroom bill. Companies, sports events, entertainers and tourists pledged to boycott North Carolina, costing the state tens of millions of dollars. That fueled even more media attention about this awful bathroom bill.
Except it isn’t a bathroom bill any more than the motorcycle bill of three years ago was about motorcycles (in case you don’t recall, that “motorcycle safety” law is chock full of restrictions on women’s reproductive rights).
Sure, Article One is all about hating transgender people and denying them the right to use the appropriate bathroom, and that’s just wrong on every level.
But read on.
The law goes on to deny people in North Carolina the right to sue for discrimination in state courts. Instead, we’re supposed to go to federal court, which is much more expensive, likely much farther away and has only one-sixth the statute of limitations (six months versus three years). Most people can’t do that.
The law also takes away the power of local governments to set their own discrimination policies or minimum wage. This, of course, helps keep people in poverty so those in power can criticize them as lazy.
But the bathroom part of the law is what’s making headlines and it has fired up the ultra-conservative base.
And this is exactly what the thugs in power planned.
The furor over the clearly unconstitutional bathroom part of the law has drawn attention away from the rest of the law, which is just as egregious.
The US Justice Department has informed the state that this piece of the bill is a violation of US Civil Rights Law. The state can fight that, and if it does, here’s what “leaders” are hoping for:
With a Republican candidate the base isn’t willing to support, the NC GOP puts the bathroom piece of the law on the November ballot. This will bring out their base, who may or may not vote for president, but will vote down-ticket for Richard Burr, Gov. McCrory, Republican candidates for Congress and these very legislators who crafted HB2.
Like Amendment One, which enshrined hatred into the state Constitution, they know this piece of the law is unconstitutional and will be overturned.
But they have what they want: Republicans elected and the rest of the law intact.
Even if they don’t fight the Justice Department decision, the NC GOP has most of what it wants because law has a clause that states if part of it is overturned or repealed, the rest survives.
And there you have it. HB2 is a naked power grab, fueled by hate and written by thugs.
Meanwhile, suicide hotlines are reporting an increase in the number of calls from transgender people. People are being dragged out of bathrooms because they’re not masculine or feminine enough to satisfy some bigot. Men are going into the women’s bathrooms at Target to check on people and “protect” women.
The worst part is that a majority of people who voted for this law are running unopposed for their seats this fall.
In other words, we’re likely to see a return of the thugs to power because no one wanted to get involved and run against them. We have the government we deserve.
I met Keshia Thomas in the heat of summer, walking along roads in eastern North Carolina with America’s Journey for Justice, a march from Selma, Ala., to Washington, DC. I was impressed immediately with her kindness and wit, and not at all surprised to learn about her “15 minutes” of fame.
Keshia was just 18 when she put her life on the line to protect a white supremacist who was being beaten by an angry mob.
She covered this man with her own body to protect him from the mob, even though she knew he hated her because of the color of her skin.
A human life is a human life, she says, and no one should have to suffer violence.
Today, Keshia travels the country and abroad, speaking about kindness and respect, doing what she can to help bring about peace and justice.
“I’ve always believed in justice,” she says. “I’ve always just wanted to be of service. Anybody can do it; you don’t need a PhD, just a desire to be of service in any way you can, large or small, every day. It’s the foundation of everything.”
In Baltimore, during the unrest after Freddie Gray died in police custody, she took a young man by the hand and told him not to throw the rock he was holding. She taught him how to protest peacefully and encouraged him to shake hands with the police.
“I left behind a young man who will work for justice in the right way, a young man who has no police record to hinder him,” she says.
So it came as no surprise when we were talking politics that she’s supporting Bernie Sanders in this presidential election.
“Bernie’s one of us,” she says. “When he says, ‘not me but us,’ I believe he means it. This isn’t about Bernie’s ego, this is about what we can all do together to bring about change.”
When Sanders was asked about fracking, his simple answer was, “No.” He knew the damage fracking can cause because he consulted scientists.
“He didn’t consult the DNC to ask about Democratic policy, he talked to scientists and made up his own mind.”
Of course, a vote for president is just one piece of every American’s responsibility, Keshia says.
“It’s about Congress and it’s especially about your vote in local elections,” she says. “The way the Tea Party gained power was to start in local elections — school boards, town councils — and work their way up. That’s what we have to do now if we want to see things change.”
In short, Keshia works for the peace and justice she wants to see in the world. Sometimes that means helping one person in a small way; sometimes it means supporting a candidate in whom she sees her own ideals.
Change can be large or small, and often big change comes in small increments. You can change one person’s view on one issue, and if you do that one day, and again the next and the next and the next, that kindness and respect will spread like ripples on a pond from a single pebble dropped into the water.
Another person on the Journey for Justice, the late Middle Passage, was a perfect example of spreading love one person at a time. M.P. often chest-bumped or hugged police officers, knowing their positive encounter with him might change the way they see black men.
Donald Trump’s nasty rhetoric is contagious, but so is kindness. We can combat vitriol with small acts of kindness, and with a vote for a kind and sensible man.
Instead of walking away from Trump’s mean-spiritedness, we can find something in common with everyone we encounter and build on that. In fact, that might be the only way we will bring about positive change.
Ten more people.
Ten human beings.
Ten more corpses.
Ten more bereaved families.
When does it end?
When do we as Americans rise up and tell our legislators that we have had enough?
Something was supposed to happen after Sandy Hook, but nothing did. And the members of Congress who did nothing weren’t fired in 2014. We let them get away with it.
Instead, we blame mental illness.
Well, we’re not doing anything about mental illnesses, either.
Here in North Carolina, our legislature just cut another $310 million out of the mental health budget over the next two years.
So, people who need treatment are getting nothing. But they can get guns.
And not just guns that are good for hunting, either; they’re getting assault weapons, weapons that can kill a dozen people in a few seconds.
The meaning of the Second Amendment has been twisted beyond recognition, thanks to the NRA and gun manufacturers and their purchase of our members of Congress, and we have allowed it to happen.
I say that because I’ll bet not 5 percent of constituents have written to their members of Congress to demand something be done. I say this because these accessories to murder keep being returned to office.
If you’re fed up with hearing the lists of the dead, if you’re fed up with footage of funerals and memorials, if you’re fed up with having to teach your children how to try to stay alive during a shooting, stop voting for people with blood on their hands.
Stop voting for candidates who try to place the stigma on people with mental illnesses when the stigma belongs on them — the people who refuse to outlaw assault weapons, the people who refuse to require universal background checks.
The day of the shooting, I was in a store talking to a woman behind the counter, who believed nothing can be done.
“Regulating guns worked in Australia,” I said.
“That’s not the United States,” she replied. “It can’t work here.”
“So, you’re saying we should do nothing?” I asked.
“No, I think we all should arm ourselves.”
I politely disagreed with her and left the store.
I don’t want to live without hope that we can manage to do anything.
Something needs to be done and we have to stop being distracted by talk of mental illness, because that’s not the cause of mass murders.
The cause of shooting sprees is guns. It is the nearly unfettered access to guns, all kinds of guns — handguns, shotguns, semi-automatic guns — by anyone who wants them. It is the expansion of open-carry rights to the point that we can’t even feel safe in restaurants, stores and parks in our own communities.
Legislators are in the pockets of gun lobbyists, and they’re making our country more dangerous every year.
Now we have mass shootings almost every week, and the response is always the same: The victims and their families are in our thoughts and prayers.
Well, here’s what’s in my thoughts and prayers: We must get rid of the murdering thugs who have done this to our country. We must all wake up and let our legislators know we’re done allowing this perversion of the Constitution and that we will vote against them, no matter what their stands are on anything else.
We want an assault weapon ban now. We want universal background checks now.
No more posturing, no more pandering to the gun lobby.
We are done. If this crop of legislators won’t do anything about it, we will send men and women who will to Washington and to our state capitols.
No more shootings. No more bodies. Do something or go home.