Miss Dem

{August 9, 2008}   mr. dodd takes on washington

the soapbox

17 December 2007

Mr. Dodd Takes on Washington

I had a moment with Sen. Dodd today.

Nooo… not that kind of a moment. We shared a moment between two idealists pushing back against a tide of indecency.

The entire duration I was there (four or so hours), only two to three senators were in the chamber at any given time leaving eloquent speeches to be handed to the ghosts of our founders’ past. Senators would come in ahead of their allotted speaking time, deliver powerful speeches no doubt written in haste by their staff writers and delivered in their entirety to the cameras.

While most CSPAN watchers presume that beyond the reach of the camera lie senators listening with rapture, in fact there are staffers chatting quietly amongst themselves, or devouring their work tuned out of the show of democracy before them.

Amidst this dearth of disappointment, Sen. Dodd proved a colorful and honorable divergence. While others read their speeches and left, Sen. Dodd sat through the majority of the debate listening to all viewpoints with respect and even allocating time to opponents. For eight hours, he sat there listening and intermittently delivering brilliant speeches full of passion and grandeur. Not the kind that come from several stints on the campaign trail, but from earthly frustration with the system.

I sat near the back for some time before asking permission to move to the front of the aisle so that I might see a senator from the intelligence deliver a compelling speech calling for the right of every senator to see the evidence he had been allowed to see. Even I wanted to see the evidence by the time he was finished.

As I walked down the staircase, the movement must have caught Sen. Dodd’s eye. He looked up, right at me. And that’s when we had a moment. I smiled, holding his gaze, and mouthed the words, “Thank you.” He smiled back, warmly grateful for the cheerleader in the stands.

Threatening a filibuster as a senior member of the majority party is no easy idea; some might call it crazy. But as Sen. Dodd argued, there have been times throughout his recent career when he didn’t take a stand. All those incremental, easy decisions were adding up and eating away at our liberties. The comprehensive look back was much harder to swallow than the incremental look forward.

I chose to come to the gallery today, not because I couldn’t watch the debate on television. I chose to come in person to show my support, in my own way, to the impending filibuster. To be honest, there wasn’t much I could do today other than call my senators. But, by showing up, I found my own way to
push back against the wave of people begging him not to pull out the final senatorial stop. One average
Jane stood in the galleries, an unknown to politicos, and gave fresh encouragement to a cause that
many outside the beltway supported.

When I returned home, I learned that Sen. Reid had pulled the controversial pieces of legislation
from further consideration. It’s too bad none of the other presidential candidates were there to see
what I saw. The topic was of grave importance to our future and to the future of this democracy
as we know it. I learned something special today, one that will never be put into words. Perhaps
they, too, might have learned something. Perhaps any of the other senators who elected to stay
out of the chamber might have learned something. But I suppose when people spend most of their day
raising money, the people’s business just isn’t that exciting.

Today, Sen. Dodd won. By sitting through the various debates, he staked out his place and
demonstrated his commitment to doing whatever needed to be done to protect the American people.
And I sat there watching, giving just a small glimmer of support from one stranger to another.

Sometimes, change really is about showing up.


~ MissDem


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