No Excuse to Hide

By Beacon Staff

The outrageous mass murder in Arizona has the political crisis cockroaches (and their media enablers) crawling out of the woodwork.

But as Robert Barnes, staff writer for the Washington Post wrote, “There is, at this point, no evidence that the suspect in Saturday’s shootings that left six dead and [Congresswoman Gabrielle] Giffords and 12 others wounded was influenced by inflammatory political rhetoric, or that any voices that motivated him were outside his own head.” In short, our killer seems nothing more than a shaved-head John Hinckley – who shot President Reagan to impress Jodie Foster. Shooting little girls? Impressive, that.

Nonetheless, this senseless crime has spiked concerns about security for government officials. The Post reported that “potential changes” include “full-time patrols, bulletproof glass and other barriers, more secure buildings” for district offices and outreach events.

Some politicians seem to want protection not only from generic homicidal kooks, but everyone. For example, Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.) wants to extend existing federal hate-mail laws. Sending death, kidnap, or bodily harm threats via U.S. Mail to the President or his chain of succession is currently good for up to five years in federal prison. Brady wants senators and congressmen added.

Rep. Peter King (RINO-N.Y.) has an even better idea: Make it illegal to bring a firearm within 1,000 feet of a “government official.”

Such scaredy-cattery aside, I hope Congress doesn’t get stupid and wall itself off from the people behind some kind of “Congressional Security Agency.”

In the mid 1990s, I took a trip to New York with a couple days in Washington, D.C. Just cruising around between appointments, I met Congressman J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.), my then-Congressman Scott McInnis (R-Colo.), and liberal pollster Stanley Greenberg.

My best impromptu “catch” happened in the bowels of the Capitol, on the Senate subway. I asked the operator if plain citizens could ride. “Sure, get in.” I did, we visited for a minute or two, and “Wow, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan!”

We shook hands, he asked if I was from New York, I said, “Born right at Women and Childrens in Midtown, but I’m from Montana – and a Republican.” We chatted as we rode along, and he then invited me along to the Senate cloakroom as we “differed” about whether missile sites should be counted as so-called Fisc “state/federal balance-of-payment” pork.

Cool, eh? Even cooler, that was business as usual in the people’s house. While I know business as usual has been replaced with TSA-style security on the Hill, for logical reasons, I think it would be a grievous mistake to implement the same “grope-a-dope” out in America.

I don’t want to bruise any colossal-yet-tender egos, but I must point out that our institutions of government are structured to continue functioning after even the most esteemed, indispensable politician leaves the arena, whatever the cause.

Further, we’ve all heard it said that politics is “war without bullets.” That wasn’t always so. Before the Civil War, guns (and violence) in the Capitol were common. Thankfully that is not the case, even now.

Soldiers sign up understanding they might have to fight war with bullets, patrolling where mortal threats are everywhere. But if you don’t patrol, you lose the war.

A couple of years ago, the news reported on a female helicopter pilot, an officer, who refused to fly combat in a war she felt unjust. She happily took the training, wings, status and pay, until her time on the tip of the spear came. She then shamefully derelicted her duty.

I’m sure that our Congresscritters enjoy the perks, prestige and power of Congress. But they also have a duty to run “patrols.” Hey, if powerful politicians feel just a little vulnerable from time to time, that’s good.

Why? America’s system of government is based on “informed consent of the governed.” The best and only way for politicians to be “informed” (or even care) if they have “consent” is to personally feel the love (or other emotions) “of the governed.”

Politicians who lack either the desire or the guts to face their fellow citizens are in the wrong job, and deserve to be replaced.

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