We almost never see politics in its actual form, with its maneuvering, backroom deals, and “half-truthing.” For the most part, we see it in its derivatives — the spokesperson blabbering on CNN, Twitter flame wars and newspaper columns that nobody reads. We remain separated from its concrete actual happenings and its legions of politicians who are busy creating laws and negotiating deals. We are those chained people in Plato’s allegory of the cave, forever stuck seeing the shadow that politics projects onto the cave, rather than facing the burning fire.
So, it was refreshing to see CNN’s recent town hall between the families and students involved in the Parkland, Florida community and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida. We finally got to turn around and see the flames, and as Rubio experienced, the kids are determined to put it out. After 20 kids were murdered in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012 and politicians did nothing about it, it’s been common refrain to say that nothing is going to change now. But, interestingly, it’s different now.
During the townhall, Rubio took heavy fire from the questioners, most notably from Cameron Kasky, a survivor of the shooting. Kasky asked Rubio to not accept a single donation from the National Rifle Association in the future. Rubio stood firmly in response to Kasky’s question, but stood in awful territory. His performance was beautiful in that it finally personified the politician down into a person we can see squirm. We see half-truths and word salads that arrive like they were ordered with a subscription. I hope to see the transcript in a class on rhetorical tricks.
The star, however, is Kasky. He called Rubio’s B.S. for what it is. Kasky demonstrated excellent vision by piercing Rubio’s rhetorical fog and handling Rubio’s spin like a clutch Stefon Diggs catch late in the game. Politics as usual is over. The victims of the Parkland shooting and the generations of intentional political inaction abetted by the NRA will not be forgotten; not on Kasky’s watch.
Not on our generation’s watch, either. The generations before us have too easily accepted the status quo of gun violence. Kasky is a role model for us all.
Some supporters of Rubio have latched onto Kasky’s apparent lack of respect or admonishing tone during his questions, but how is someone who has survived mass murder supposed to react to the man who has been a wimp in Congress, school shooting after school shooting? We deserve to be incensed. It is ludicrous that in the world’s most powerful and rich economy the prospect of being shot at school is real. The #NotAgain movement is a real political phenomenon, led by the heroic survivors of the Parkland shooting. It is a credible expression of collective exasperation at our modern political situation. We must stand up for victims of the Parkland shooting.