The extraordinary sit-in by Democrats on the House floor ended Thursday. They were protesting the GOP majority’s refusal to allow votes on further gun controls in the wake of the Orlando massacre. Here are five points to take away from the demonstration:
1. ‘Occupy’ lives on
Nearly six years since the Occupy Wall Street protests in Zuccotti Park in Manhattan, denizens of the Capitol adapted the same style of demonstration, made possible by live-streaming and instant videos. The elected occupiers got to separate themselves from an “establishment” image in a year when that’s unpopular.
2. Opportunity knocked
Not coincidentally, the 1960s-style protest — which could ultimately amount to a lot of noise — came at a ripe governmental moment. Lawmakers are preparing to leave town for the weekend, the Orlando horror is still fresh in mind but expected to fade soon, and the presidential contest gives proposed weapons bans even more resonance. It also helped Democrats drown out a big Donald Trump speech on Wednesday.
3. Glossing over the hard part
The horrors of Orlando split the parties over radical Islamists and the availability of high-powered assault weapons like the one Omar Mateen legally possessed. Singing “We Shall Overcome” glossed over genuine due-process problems with using “no-fly” lists to limit individual rights — which is House Speaker Paul Ryan’s stated rationale for jamming up the bills.
4. Paved by GOP stunts
Democrats know their Republican Party rivals have little high ground from which to lecture them about the downside of disruption after the GOP congressional majority created two weeks of chaos in 2013 — during which the nation went without a fully functioning federal government. It was effectively a “strike” against President Barack Obama.
5. Little to lose, fame to gain
Notice some of those who surrounded Rep. John Lewis, 76, of Georgia, the leader of the demonstrators, are familiar faces from overwhelmingly Democratic districts in New York. Constituents of veteran Reps. Greg Meeks (D-Queens), Nita Lowey (D-Westchester) and Eliot Engel (D-Bronx), for example, are highly unlikely to hold the fight against them. To the contrary, the lawmakers put the protest on their official websites.