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Protest Politics

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by Kerby Anderson

When Congress returns from a summer break, you have to wonder whether protest politics will once again be on display. Two weeks ago several House Democrats literally sat on the floor of the House of Representatives and demanded a vote on gun control measures that could not be passed in the U.S. Senate. What started with about 40 members grew to more than 170 including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

We have seen this before in other legislative bodies. Remember when union activists took over the Wisconsin legislature a few years ago? Or we can point to the disruption in the Texas Senate by pro-choice activists. Outside the legislative chambers we have seen protest politics in full throat with Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter.

Leading the House sit-in was Representative John Lewis (D-GA) who seemed blind to the irony of what he was doing. In the 1960s he staged sit-ins to fight for civil rights. Now he was organizing a sit-in to deny people their civil rights. The goal seemed to be that citizens should lose their Second Amendment right because they would be denied their Fifth Amendment right of due process. And they were using their First Amendment right as justification for disrupting the order of the House.

It is also ironic that Representative Lewis wanted a vote on using a watch list to deny citizens their right to own a firearm. A few years ago John Lewis was erroneously placed on such a list. Even though he had been a member of Congress for more than a quarter century, he couldn’t get his name cleared up quickly.

The bigger issue is whether we have lost all decorum in Congress and other state legislatures. When House Speaker Paul Ryan tried to restore order at three in the morning, pandemonium erupted. His attempts to gavel the session back to regular business were greeted with shouts and protests. Let all hope protest politics do not return to the House of Representatives.

Viewpoints by Kerby Anderson

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