Americans who’ve given up on our democracy or decided they’re just too busy to engage in politics and government should take a lesson from the outpouring of student activism following the massacre at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Risking suspension or other discipline by principals and superintendents, plus damage to their grade averages and college prospects, tens of thousands of high schoolers have left their classes to join marches and rallies for gun control legislation in Washington and their states.
The students’ peaceful demonstrations are reminiscent of the activist movements that their parents and grandparents mounted in the 1950s and ‘60s to challenge racial segregation and the Vietnam War. They should stiffen the spines of the millions of Americans – a clear majority according to every poll – who favor sensible gun laws but have concluded that the National Rifle Association has such a firm hold on Congress and our state legislatures that nothing can be done.
These kids are showing us that they still believe in America. They have learned enough about our history to understand that citizen action and citizen votes can move public policy. It is almost never easy, especially when the defenders of the status quo are as well financed and well organized as the NRA and the gun manufacturers; but it can be done.
If our kids and grandkids, the people with the greatest stake in our country’s future, are willing to stand up and speak out, how can any of us remain idle?
Office: Common Cause National