The debate about the debt ceiling/budget/whatever it was was ugly, painful, and fruitless. The economy and credibility of this country was jeopardized over the political stubbornness of the Tea Party, who got 98% of what they wanted (as stated by them...) while the Democrats sold out the sick, elderly and poor, and the wealthy and huge corporations didn't give a cent.
On Monday, I pulled up CSPAN on my computer (days after getting rid of TV) to watch the debate and the vote. As I watched the progression of Republicans talking about their victory for the economy in terms that would made sense only to those with absolutely no understanding of how economies work; and the Democrats begrudgingly endorsed its passage just to keep the US from defaulting, the only ray of hope was the statement of the House Progressive Caucus and the comments of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who I knew would be sourly defeated as they tried to stand up for the country's most vulnerable citizens.
With bitterness in my heart, I watched the vote, hoping for some strange, last-minute miracle....
And it happened!
The House of Representatives errupted in applause, even though there were clearly not enough votes for the passage yet. I had seen minutes before the tweet that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had returned to Washington, and then, there she was!
And then I realized the message - as Ram Dass points out, "the next message we need is always right where we are" - First, just the miracle that Ms. Giffords had survived being shot in the head, and then that six months later, she was back in Washington voting on a bill she saw as too important to miss supporting... and then I realized that no one had threatened to kill anyone, no one had posted targets on any congress people, and no one had squawked about using bullets instead of ballots, or otherwise invoked the 2nd Amendment in any way through the whole debate!
These were the rallying cries belched out by the radical right in the days before the tragic shooting in Tucson Arizona. The shooting caused people on both sides of the aisle to talk about toning down the rhetoric and lead the president to make one of his most amazing speeches at the memorial for the victims, calling for civility. Shortly there after Glenn Beck, one of the most aggressive voices, frequently comparing Obama to Hitler and calling for uprising, was released from Fox News.
So, maybe we had learned. Maybe Gabrielle Giffords' attempted assassination, and the successful assassination of many innocent people, including children, served as a tipping point for the tenor of debate.
After all, even though the debt ceiling 'deal' was a very bad compromise, it was a compromise. And the fault of the problems in it were more a result of stubborn right-wingers and spineless left-wingers, who came together when they needed to and got a job done in the most messy of ways.
I hope we continue to solve problems by hashing out compromise, using the ballot box wisely and being more and more civil.
Every time I see the acts of Congresswoman Giffords, they often appear to be the work of an angel, not a politician.
Thank you, Rep. Giffords, for the best lessons we could have ever had.