House Democrats Deliver Sit-in via Digital Platforms
The protest that played out Wednesday on Capitol Hill wasn’t quite plebiscite by Periscope. But it came close.
Dissident lawmakers relied on digital platforms devised in the second decade of the 21st century to circumvent the leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives, an institution more likely to be inspired by mores from the 19th century. In so doing, they forced public consideration of gun control, an issue many politicians would prefer to avoid.
A band of House Democrats staged a sit-in just before noon on Wednesday to insist on a vote on a gun control measure. Led by the legendary civil rights leader and Rep. John Lewis, the lawmakers, some in their 70s, sat gingerly down on the House floor, intentionally evoking the rhetoric and the choreography of protest movements of the 1960s. They stayed for hours, drawing strength and greater numbers over the course of the day.
Democrats intended their protest to be carried to the nation. The first media responder would normally be C-SPAN. But the cameras in the galleries above the House floor are actually controlled by staffers directed by the House, which is to say House Republicans, not C-SPAN. (C-SPAN was created by a consortium of cable providers to carry proceedings of the federal government live and thereby curry favor with federal officials. It is an instance of doing well by doing a genuine public good.)