Guest: Do our politicians care for our lives?

This piece reflects the views of Kezia Setyawan, and not those of Emerald Media Group. The piece is part of a series of op-eds from Peter Laufer’s Reporting I class at the SOJC. It has been edited by the Emerald for grammar and style. Send your columns or submissions about our content or campus issues to [email protected]

There is a cancer in our political system. It seems as though the folks elected to public office care more about money than people. The National Rifle Association (NRA) has given Representative Greg Walden $39,250 in total since 1998 as reported by the Washington Post. Walden represents Oregon’s 2nd district, covering Medford to the entire east side of the Willamette Valley.

I wanted to follow the money trail so I called his office. I was redirected from the legislative office in Washington D.C. to the local office in Bend to the press contact, and was then left on voicemail at the campaign office. I called repeatedly for two days. The lack of transparency creates distrust between those in office and everyday constituents.

Walden’s silence on the Parkland shooting and refusal to publicly take a stance on bills addressing gun control is weak. It illustrates the lack of concern he has for his constituents. While state legislature passed Oregon’s bill strengthening gun control by prohibiting any person with a domestic violence conviction from owning a firearm, nothing has been done on the federal level. How many more people have to die for us to see change?

Admirably, many organizations for gun control have put together data and numbers on who benefits from NRA donations and how it correlates to how public citizens vote for gun safety. However, this work for gun control should not just burden those who are dealing with the trauma of gun violence. The movement for gun control needs to be intersectional and to acknowledge the disparities between different communities that deal with gun violence. Those with privilege need to stand behind them and elect officials who represent these values. Imagine a campaign on a ticket which believes that people don’t deserve to die from gun violence. How would someone justify voting against that candidate?

Our political system continues to kill our children. Work happening within the political institution and in the community are both vital because our lives are inherently political. I hope that every politician who has accepted money from the NRA knows they have blood on their hands. The 2018 midterm election is approaching. Vote them out.

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