I'm doing my citizen lobby schtick in one of the indoor courtyards of the General Assembly Building in Raleigh today after two (2 -- count 'em, 2) meetings with Sen. Kay Hagan's staff this morning. In between those two meetings, Sen. Hagan (and, shockingly, Sen. Richard Burr -- what happened? did he know what he was voting for?) cast a "yea" vote on the Toomey-Manchin bipartisan compromise bill on firearms reform.
It was quite a moment for the group of moms I was with when we got the news. We had just begged Sen. Hagan's staff to let us stop hounding Hagan on a vote for common-sense firearms laws; we've collectively logged in at least 300 hours in the past three weeks calling her offices in Raleigh and DC to coax her through the heeby-jeebies of stepping out to take a stand on an issue that's generating some very hostile debate here in her home state.
Please, we begged, please let us stop having to spend our time calling, writing, and meeting with y'all so that we can concentrate on the whack-a-doodle issues and lawmakers we have to get to in our General Assembly! Do you have no idea the number of fires we're trying to put out here at home? Why are you forcing us to take time from that to lobby the one senator in the entire United States who is perfectly positioned to be the grand poobah of bipartisan compromises?
Well, she's no grand poobah, but in the past three weeks, we've watched our Sen. Hagan make public her support for same-sex marriage, then (a couple days later) for universal background checks, and today for the Toomey-Manchin bill. We're pretty close to taking off her training wheels and watching our senator ride a big person's two-wheeler.
Now we can pour more hours into the whack-a-doodles.
I'm not sure Sen. Hagan realizes the shitstorm we're facing here in North Carolina. In the N.C. Senate alone, there were 786 bills submitted for consideration. There are still two hours left for House members to submit their bills, but as of two hours ago, they'd managed to throw 891 bills at us from the N.C. House of Representatives.
Yes, Teh Crazy is in full force this session. You've probably seen the list of unbalanced bills, and you've probably read that one of the sponsors of the bill that says the First Amendment doesn't apply to North Carolina and proposes establishment of a state religion also told a constituent that she equates Islam with terrorism. There's the "Healthy Marriage" Act, which proposes a two-year waiting period for couples who want to divorce. There's the bill to eliminate the ban on lobbyists' gifts to lawmakers. And the bill to require students to learn cursive writing (seriously? a law? they can't just ask the Department of Education to add this to the curriculum?).
Yeah. So that happened.
It will be difficult for those of us who really care about all this to address Teh Crazy if we have to spend all our time calling, writing, and visiting Sen. Hagan instead of researching and lobbying against these bizarre bills designed to repeal the 20th and 21st centuries.
We hear that there are a number of people interested in challenging Hagan for her senate seat next year. Renee Ellmers, a Tea Party "patriot" who carries a concealed weapon with her to work; Thom Tillis, who wants doctors to ask pregnant women why they want abortions and then turn this information over to the Pregnancy Police to determine whether she qualifies for an abortion or not; an OB-GYN who not only births babies but is a certified Obama birther nut and STILL wants to see the president's birth certificate. The list goes on. And it's not a pretty list.
If Sen. Hagan wants to beat the Tea Party, she can't really do it by straddling the Tea Party fence. It's time for her to get offa that fence and do some genuine leading.