With the as yet untold number of people around the country and around the world, I marched last weekend. I made my little sign, and I walked the streets of my little town, and I gave my little speech and listened to the speeches of others. Then I got in my car and went home. And if that is all I will have done, I will have wasted a beautiful afternoon, and I will have accomplished nothing more than making myself feel good.
What those strong and brave and bright students of Stoneman Douglas High School and elsewhere have done is enormously important, important far beyond even the seemingly limitless energy they are providing to the effort to rid our schools and our communities of massacres like those at Stoneman Douglas and Sandy Hook and Columbine. They are demanding that those who occupy public office stop spending all their efforts getting re-elected and concentrate on the job for which we the people put them in office.
We are all painfully aware that it takes money to get elected, and re-elected, to public office. We all further understand that the longer you stay in office, the more seniority you have and the more power you have and therefore the more ability you have to get things done. The problem with all that is that our elected officials too soon start serving those who give them the money for elections rather than serving those who voted them in office.
A part of this perversion is on us the voters. We are the ones who allow ourselves to get talked into voting for someone because of the ads and internet messages that all that money buys. We allow ourselves to be far too influenced by slickly produced ads and messages, when what we really need is to do more thinking and learning and discussing for ourselves. The greater part of the blame, however, must go to those elected officials who lose their way and start doing the will of those with the money rather than serving the best interests of those whom they were supposedly elected to represent.
This is the far greater message that these young people are sending us. This is what they are really forcing us to remember and understand. Senators and Congresspeople do not represent the NRA, nor do they represent the Kochs or the Adelmans or the moneyed folks who support the so-called liberal politicians. They represent the people. The people want their children to be safe. They also want a lot more than that. They want peace, not the constant wars that have been consuming us for the last two decades. They want an honest voting system, not the gerrymandering and voting exclusions that prejudicially favor one factor or another. They want an honest and productive economy. They want good, solid educations for their children. They want a rational system of health care. They want fair treatment for all, regardless of sex or religion or race. They want to pass on a habitable world to their children and grandchildren.
These young people got us to march. Now they, and we, need to get our elected representatives to work for all of us. If those representatives do not work for all of us, we need, all of us, to vote them out and vote in those who will work for all of us. Absent those votes, and absent getting off our duffs and working to get everyone to vote, we will have all just wasted a beautiful afternoon.