Here before with Gabby Gifford and liar’s poker in those we elected to represent our interests. Once again we watch the GOP hassle and test, extort and punish with Homeland Security and immigration reform at risk in the mix. We’re used to this from congress, but maybe we shouldn’t be. I want to remind us of when we first directly encountered the feuding between the parties in 2011.
I want to remind us of Gabby Giffords who reminded us of who we are. This is from August 1st , 2011.
AUGUST 1, 2011
We all watched the stunning debt crisis drama unfold on August 2, 2011, with a President and a Congress moving inexorably toward the congressional vote and its outcome. It was impossible not to see or hear the hourly threats of potential disaster for our nation, and the world, as the date approached. The media, cell phones, the radio, cable news, the internet: all forms of communication were 24/7. Our response was to distance ourselves from the emotional content. We watched as expert after expert, and politician after politician warned the other party of the dire consequences of their failure to fix the situation. Our future hung, swinging wildly between these feuding of this debt crisis.
The repetition and emotional content escalated to the point where some became completely disengaged. Of course, a nonresponse becomes a response: we were in a state of helplessness and powerlessness, spectators at a political brawl. It was like watching a hair pulling bar fight from people you’re relying on to keep sane: like seeing two dignified people in suits and ties lose themselves to the furor of the moment. Days dragged on. Dire and hostile comments continued. We witnessed the President getting more gray hair before our very eyes.
CSPAN showed us the congressmen milling around in the Congressional chamber. Suddenly, in the midst of the gloom and doom, there was an opening. A few people turned to see the Congresswoman from Arizona enter, smiling: her first public appearance since being shot in a shopping center by a constituent carrying a gun.
Astronaut Mark Kelly, her husband, was at her side. More people became aware that she was there. Even from the grainy CSPAN picture, you could see the people’s spirits soar. Senator Giffords was there because she had insisted on having her vote – as the Congresswoman of her district, as a representative of her people, count. Only Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman, also of Arizona, and Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, were informed that she would be on the Congressional floor the hour of voting.
Congresswoman Giffords raised her hand at the stirring of her colleagues, who turned to meet her. The murmur of her presence became a roar. Republicans and Democrats, who seconds before had engaged in polarizing threats and defensive positions, now moved toward her small elegant frame, tears streaming down their faces. Gabby was a reflection of all that is alive and cannot be extinguished, regardless of strife, acrimony, pain, or a gun.
Her soft strength impacted one and all: many of us at home who happened to be watching TV, found ourselves weeping. Weeping for the celebration of her return to the floor of Congress after her life-threatening assault. Weeping at the miracle of seeing how each Congressperson around her was no longer their identity or their party position, but a human being. Rejoicing in the face of the courage and real strength of this delicate and insurmountably present Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.
Gabby reminded the nation of who we are and what we value by her mere presence and her tremendous fight to return to herself, to her job, and to the people of this country. This was a moment, a time to see what we truly value and what really sustains our lives in this moment of truth on the congressional floor. She brought the Congress and the nation to a level of humanity, a return to who we are.
Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly continue their work on gun control legislation, working with the families of Newtown, Sandy Hook. Congresswoman Giffords stood with the President on the gun control bill that failed. Even in her disappointment in the failed attempt at passing a bill that would make guns less accessible to those who would and do harm, her strength prevails. She and Mark Kelly continue with their unrelenting pursuit of responsible gun registration through their grassroots organization: Americans for Responsible Solutions. A frontrunner always, her presence a gift and a reminder always – of the strength of character for what is possible and worthy of our passion.