The RI Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing last week on the Reproductive Healthcare Act (RHCA). Despite impassioned testimony, less than an hour after the last of the testimony was given, the Committee shelved the bill. Another year that RI will not consider the impact of their reproductive policy on the citizens of this state.
This couldn’t be further from democracy in action. It’s backroom politics and a process that isn’t serving those it is meant to.
And it isn’t just this committee. A few months ago, I witnessed the same lack of democracy when the Coastal Resources Management Commission met to consider whether a liquefied natural gas facility would be sited in an already highly impacted area. Again, despite clear and compelling arguments, the Committee chose to ignore citizen concerns and instead bowed to the almighty power, money.
As I reflect on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, I’m reminded of how many of our leaders have been lost this way, just in my lifetime. I think of John K. Kennedy Jr, of John Lennon, and of course of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But those are the big names, the ones we know.
I think too of Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner, who gasped for air before his death, reminding us of his inability to breathe in the wake of police brutality. I think of Black Lives Matter leader Muhiyidin Elamin More, shot dead on his bicycle. I think of so, so, many dying at the hands of assassins while trying only to speak truth to power.
When those in power talk about you ‘taking up all the oxygen in the room,’ they mean they’d rather stay in power than protect your life.
Who we elect, and how they act once in office, determines whether or not this democracy survives. It determines who lives and who dies at the hand of government decisions (or non-decisions).
Make your voice heard.
Until they have no choice but to listen.
Written by D.L.Helfer
June 5, 2018