Yes. How? Like this:
Michael Waldman gave us the essence of How To, when he quoted Abraham Lincoln as Lincoln debated slavery:
Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed. Consequently he who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed.
We’ve just watched and participated in the effect public sentiment can have on legislators when we defeated the repeat of the ACA. Direct action by millions of citizens in the face of legislators did it.
Because I am so inescapably an individualist, I’ve never been entirely comfortable initiating or joining in group action–until the election and the Women’s March. My way had always been to support with small donations groups that do my battle against policies and forces I consider bad. I’m neither a leader nor a follower.
Thing is, I’m a writer, much more comfortable putting together words than speaking on a telephone. Besides that, a phone message is ephemeral; a letter is not.
So years ago, via the written word, I entered the war against guns.
For years I’ve read two newspapers every day–the New York Times and the Daily News. They complement each other: the Times has a world view, the News a city focus.
In 2008 or so, I began to notice how many incidents of gun violence the Daily News was reporting virtually every day. Despite the city’s fairly strict gun control laws, guns were out there and they were being used, often fatally.
In November 2008, I voted for Kirsten Gillibrand to follow Hillary Clinton as one of New York’s senators. Gillibrand is the perfect example of how I vote, how I choose for whom I vote. That is, she was not perfect, not my ideal. I fully appreciated why: she came from and had held a congressional seat in a far less liberal area of New York State than my city.
I have almost never voted for someone I considered my ideal politician. While I get to maintain myself as an idealist, no effective politician can be. I recognize and accept that. So I vote for the person whom I think will be effective in representing the full constituency, without compromising the ideals I hold which are not fungible.
My ideals are basic: Civil rights are equal rights are human rights and they must be for all–and I mean all. I believe that government must be the means of assuring our equal rights; when it fails us, our court system must act with authority to do so. If our courts fail us, as I fear they might, we will have court nullification, i.e., revolution.
Gillibrand had many qualities I admired. She was a lawyer–legislation is writing laws–she was hugely smart, interesting in character and a woman. She appreciated government. (Amazing how many people run for office claiming they are against government.)
One thing that made me uneasy, though, was her membership in the NRA. According to the news, she kept a rifle under her bed, presumably for self-defense (although I must say I don’t buy that argument–from her or anyone. Among all the many cases of gun violence I’ve read about, I don’t remember any involving that excuse of home invasion. Who are all these menaces out there, plotting to invade all those over-armed homes? It has always struck me as American paranoia, video game fantasies of super powers.)
Anyway, Gillibrand and her rifle.
I decided to write to her about guns and to support my concern with newspaper clippings.
NEXT: My letters to Kirsten Gillibrand