One Senator’s Tweet Should Remind Americans That Everyone’s Fair Game

In the last decade, two members of the U.S. House of Representatives – both from opposite sides of our political spectrum – were shot and nearly killed.

With the impenetrable lock that gun lobbyists clamped and welded onto the gilded upper chamber of Congress, their colleagues in the Senate still did nothing about passing stricter gun control laws. (In the past, the House has put forward legislation for greater measures, only to wilt away in the Senate.)

As the better of us rightfully rage about the lack of action following the mass killings of children in our schools over the last thirty years, the latest tragedy (as well as those in Buffalo and Laguna Woods) underscored what many of us have always known, but are reluctant to admit – that we’re all fair game. 

Yet for this writer, it was the near deaths of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords (D – AZ) in 2012 and current Congressman Steve Scalise (R – LA) in 2017 that revealed far more about the Senatorial inertia that keeps America from resolving its gun control crisis. As their own colleagues in Capitol Hill were recovering – with Giffords unable to finish her third term in the House due to brain trauma – not even the appearance of self-interest and self-preservation compelled any changes to gun laws.

(Equally as tragic has been Scalise’s voting record, supported by his own words months after his recovery and the Las Vegas massacre: “Don’t try to put new laws in place that don’t fix these problems. They only make it harder for law-abiding citizens to own a gun.”)

But that conceit serves a different purpose for many of those hold-outs as they become indignant not only about the conversation, but who dares to participate in it.

Many of you saw this last night during Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals between the visiting Boston Celtics and the host Miami Heat. After a moment of silence for the victims of the horrors in Uvalde, Texas, the Heat (through its public address announcer) made an unexpected but mostly welcomed call-to-action for fans at FTX Arena and at home:

Predictably, this didn’t sit too well with Senator Marco Rubio (R- FL), who has a penchant for whataboutism instead of “what-can-I-do-ism” in times like this.

While social media has generally failed as an accurate barometer of what every American thinks and feels at a given moment, it remains a proving ground of sorts for messages on particular issues. At the extremes of the American political spectrum, a tweet can rally a supportive base (or at least the bots) and enrage its opponents (people who regularly quote-tweet their outrage). It can spark off new rounds of campaign fundraising or open up new ways to grift. Most certainly and effectively, a tweet can get the modern content mill masquerading as political punditry – and dolts who are rusty in the writing department like yours truly – to talk about them. In those regards, few are as effective at detrimental tweets over beneficial legislation as the senior senator from Miami.

The NBA is far from a perfect sports league despite its progressive stances over the years. However, there is something incredibly morose about a prominent federal legislator using his time to attack the league for a political quagmire that has nothing to do with the murders of 21 people – NINETEEN CHILDREN! – at an elementary school. (And there’s far more to be said for some of his colleagues in the replies. These are ‘patriots’ who believe that the only way to love America is to hate the people who built and maintained it.)

Yet perhaps because millions of Americans have witnessed these tragedies in the social media age, it feels as if these opportunistic posts from the holdout legislators aren’t hitting the mark as they used to. What we are seeing is that Rubio and many of his cohorts are far more willing to put their hearts and souls into railing against their real and perceived detractors on Twitter than standing in the Senate chamber to at least talk about the issue at hand.

All of that energy for a tweet, but not for a vote. All that energy for a tweet, but not for thousands of American families who lost loved ones or had to endure someone’s arduous recovery. All of that energy for a tweet, but not for his fellow Floridians after Orlando or Parkland.

All of that energy for a tweet, but in all of this time in the U.S. Senate, Marco Rubio hasn’t given an ounce of energy for his own colleagues on the Hill. 

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