We are busy organizing our CPSIA Fly-In, Rally and Congressional Briefing for next Wednesday, April 1 in Washington, D.C. Part of our effort is to include members of Congress in our line-up of speakers. We reached out to many members on both sides of the aisle looking for volunteers to appear in front of our group. So far, we have commitments from one Senator (DeMint), five Representatives (Barton, Blackburn, Gingrey, Stearns, Whitfield) and one ex-Governor (Engler) - all Republicans. No Democrats are apparently willing to speak in public to our group. One unnamed Democratic member of Congress even conveyed to us that he/she wanted to appear to tell us that we are being heard and help is on the way, but was told in no uncertain terms by "leadership" that an appearance would not be permitted. What's going on? I thought everyone was in favor of safety - it shouldn't be an issue that Democrats and Republicans disagree on.
Unfortunately, what's going on is that there is a major turf war underway, and we are caught in the middle. The CPSIA is being claimed as a hard-fought and emblematic achievement of the Democratic Party leadership and it thus appears that opposition to the defective law is seen as opposition to these leaders. Hence, Democrats aren't allowed to speak publicly with common sense on the CPSIA - they have to tow the Party line of infallibility, regardless of how strained it is. Any Democratic member of Congress daring to defy Party leadership by acknowledging the flaws in the law and calling for fixes, risks isolation or other punishments. This sad state of affairs only magnifies the significance of John Dingell's March 4 letter to the Commissioners of the CPSC which I interpret as a major breach in the ranks.
I have long had the sense that democratic principles were somehow sacrificed in the CPSIA debacle. The closed door bargaining, limited legislative investigation with sources certain to give convenient answers, cancelled hearings when opposing voices might be heard publicly, the generally frosty and sometimes rude reception to opposing viewpoints, all were signs that that fix was in, and our participation in the process was unwanted (and perceived to be unneeded). This is not right - the People are still Congress' employers and deserve a role in rulemaking that affects their destiny so directly. Hence, we felt the Rally was a necessary response to our permanent exclusion from the legislative process. Reaching this conclusion is both shocking and terrifying. We need to take our government back.
It seems to me that the Democratic leadership needs a Civics lesson. [Interestingly, we are told that at least one High School U.S. Government class will be watching our Rally and using it as course material to learn about democratic processes!] Apparently, the Democrats feel that an open exchange of views on the CPSIA is dangerous and out of the question. Isn't that pathetic? I guess the Obama Revolution didn't last too long. . . . To demonstrate how a truly transparent, democratic process functions, we expect to offer the following interactive, participatory features for the Rally through our website http://www.amendthecpsia.com/:
1. Streaming audio and video LIVE during the event.
2. Interactive features allowing viewers to pose questions to the floor of the Rally.
3. A call-in number so you can listen to the speeches on your phone if you have to leave the computer.
4. A live Twitter.com "tweet" feed on the home page of the Rally website for on-the-spot reporting all day long.
5. Written testimony not only from speakers but also from all other interested parties. See http://www.amendthecpsia.com/ for more details if you want to submit testimony.
All of this will be provided free-of-charge to encourage wide public participation in our process.
It's time that Democrats join the democracy - come speak at our Rally and participate in an open and free debate on much-needed changes to the CPSIA. Avoiding the Rally won't make us go away, and it won't make all the information generated at the Rally go away either. That's what our website is for.
See you on Wednesday. It will be a big day for us and for our democracy!