Hello! It’s the weekend, this is The Weekender. ☕
The shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 children and two adults dead, is the freshest horror to produce anguished cries of “do something!” aimed directly at Republicans and the Democrats who, in theory, control Congress.
The reality is, thanks to two of their own, Democrats can’t do much. Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) stand as firmly behind the filibuster now as they did when the underlying issue being debated was voting rights or climate change mitigation.
That’s a hard place to be. Even Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is already expressing gloom about the two bills he hastily scheduled for votes in the hours after the shooting.
The mix of Democratic impotence and the refusal to act by Sinema, Manchin and every single Senate Republican has produced a lethal mix of anger, despair and cynicism in the segment of the population that finds the routine murder of children too high a price to pay for nearly unfettered access to guns.
It’s also why moments of genuine rage from Democrats have broken through so loudly in recent days.
Beto O’Rourke, Democratic challenger to Gov. Greg Abbott (R), interrupted Abbott’s press conference Wednesday to accuse him of “doing nothing.”
Abbott’s allies unleashed expletives and recriminations while O’Rourke, escorted out by police, called the killings a “totally predictable” result of lax state gun laws.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) — whose prominence grew as he called for gun reform after the Sandy Hook murders happened in his congressional district a decade ago — gave a similarly applauded speech from the Senate floor Tuesday.
“What are we doing?” he angrily asked during his floor speech. “Why do you spend all this time running for the United States Senate? Why do you go through all the hassle of getting this job, of putting yourself in a position of authority? As the slaughter increases, as our kids run for their lives, we do nothing.”
Horrified observers have a hunger for this kind of explosion, for rage that, at least for a few moments, shakes decorum and the status quo.
Angry observers took similar heart in Michigan state Sen. Mallory McMorrow’s (D) recent floor speech about protecting LGBTQ children.
They cheered Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) when she joined protesters outside the Supreme Court, furious about the leaked draft Roe opinion. Her presence there didn’t change the legislative obstacles, the fact that 48 willing Democrats is too small a number to make any change in our broken institutions. But she still did a small kind of service – she made people feel less alone when she raised her voice.
“I am angry!” she shouted.
More on other news below. Let’s dig in.