Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Where Did They Go?

Recalls were held a little while back for two of Colorado's state senators.  The recalls were successful.  The state constitution was more or less used exactly as it was intended and so two senators who were a part of the gun laws that were passed in Colorado were recalled.  It is not the use of the recall which I wish to write about.  The people voted in those two districts, and they have spoken with their vote. The only part of the election I would question was that this recall was the first election in many years that was not allowed to have the mail-in ballots, but from the petition signatures to the election, it is state constitutional and it put Colorado on the national stage for two reasons: we recalled two state senators, a rare event and the NRA made sure it would happen.

What I want to write about is the aftermath of the recalls.  No not the election of two Republican senators who won in an off, off year election and who, if they play extreme politics, may find themselves replaced in the next regular election by the rest of the voting public.  They need to remember that while elected during the no mail-in-ballots recall by less than 11 per cent of the electorate, they may have a tougher row to hoe when the rest of the regular election voters show up in an election that has the mail-in ballots. Sorry, Republican friends, the small turn out that occurs in an off, off year election means very little in political terms.  It was not some Republican resurrection, but what typically happens in a special election. Those most passionately involved turn out.  The rest, no so much.

I am barely going to mention that with the two new Republican senators in the Colorado Congress that nothing changes.  Nothing.  No change in the control of the two houses. No change in the current agenda. No change in the gun control laws that the two were recalled for.  I am not going to even spend too much time on the courage of these two senators, coming from where they do, on voting their conscience and taking a stand.  A rare thing these days to find in a politician.

I am not going to spend that much time on the fact that the only thing the NRA accomplished was not changing the laws or many attitudes.  No what they accomplished was a small wave of fear among more weak kneed politicians in other states who might be considering terrible things like limiting clip sizes and requiring back ground checks, which by the way in Colorado have already stopped ten people with criminal backgrounds from buying guns since the closing of the gun show and private sales loophole.  I am going to barely point out that the NRA used Colorado as a testing ground.  As Jon Caldara of the far right put it  “If the president of the Senate of Colorado, who did nothing except pass the laws that Bloomberg wrote, gets knocked out, there will be a shudder, a wave of fear that runs across every state legislator across the country, that says, ‘I ain’t doing that ever. That is not happening to me. I will not become a national embarrassment, I will not take on those guys.’ That’s how big this is.” There will virtually no time spent on the fact that the recall originally included five senators and that one was a non-starter and two others could not garner enough signatures for the recall movement.

No.  What I want to write about and what I wonder about is what happened to my friends?  I grew up hunting with these guys.  We took hunter's safety together, back in the day when the NRA's  was not the gun lobby but actually making guns and their users safer.  I cannot imagine them supporting making sure that we don't do background checks so that criminals can get guns.  I cannot imagine one of them thinking that a clip holding more fifteen rounds as being in any way sporting.  I still remember putting the plug in my shotgun to limit the number of shells it held because limiting the number of rounds while hunting certain game was a law which we obeyed.  No one sat around complaining that it was unconstitutional to limit the rounds when we went out to shoot geese.  We were sportsmen. There was no talk of how the government was going to come get our guns, and we would fight them.  Nope that didn't happen until so called gun organizations started sending out mailers and the articles became steadily more driven by playing on fears and paranoia.  What happened to those guys whom I hung out with? What happened to those levelheaded friends who believed in protecting and sportsmanship and  not guns for the sake of guns?

And yet, after the elections were called, friends were on the social sites like Facebook announcing that two were down, and the governor was next.  They called the governor names.  I know they were taught respect even if we disagree with someone.  I am sure they even taught it to their children.  They announced how they were going to take the state back, as if someone who is not Republican has no claim to any belief outside conservative circles? I am an independent.  I was born in Colorado.  My parents were born here too. I don't think of myself as particularly conservative or liberal.   I think my voice counts.  But there it was that "liberals need to watch out."  The far right fears the background check because it will lead to a national database of who owns what guns.  There is such a database.  It is owned by the NRA,and it is not just a listing of members, but a list that tracks gun salebuyers, sporting magazine subscribers, and purchasers of tickets to sporting and gun shows of nonmembers as well. The NRA attempted to keep it a secret.

Where did these honest men go? The ones who thought conspiracies were stupid and for the weak minded. What happened to the ones who believed in the vote of the people and the majority voice was the way it was? When did they decide that if people didn't vote what they believed, they should call them names, threaten to start their own state, and call anyone else who disagrees a name and then collect their toys and go home?  Where did the level heads go who would have never fallen for the propaganda of either left or right?  What happened when we used aplaud that rare politician who took the risk and voted his or her conscience?  How did they become the bad guys?  I miss those guys that held justice and democracy dear and would defend even voices they disagreed with. I miss the guys who measured their beliefs on their honor and clearheaded thought. They knew that nothing they owned made them who they were.  A gun does not make a man.  Being a Republican or a Democrat does not make the man.  A man...a person is made by the life they live and the example they set. What example are they setting now?

I am tired of paranoia and wing-nut knee jerk reactions.  When did we become so paranoid and hateful? We need to take our country back, not go backwards to a time that never existed.  I miss those guys I grew up with.  I miss those old hard nosed ranchers and farmers who gave us an understanding of what it means to live with honor and decency.

I miss those guys.