Message from the Chair
Presented by Dr. Kent Blevins at the CCDP Executive Committee Meeting on June 2, 2022
As I was thinking about what I wanted to share with you in my Chair comments this evening, the nation has been reeling from a couple of recent mass shooting events – one in Buffalo, NY and one in Uvalde, Texas. These two events have managed to rise to the level of making headlines from among the daily drumbeat of mass shootings in this country. It is literally a daily drumbeat. A mass shooting is defined as four or more people shot and/or killed in a single incident, at the same general time and location, not including the shooter. Today marks the 153rd day of 2022 and we have had 233 mass shooting events so far this year in this country, according to gunviolencearchive.org. I have had to update and revise that number every day since writing my first draft of these remarks. Of course, gun violence includes a lot more than mass shootings. We have become so numb to the ubiquity of violence in this country that many Americans don’t realize that more than 18,000 lives have already been lost so far in 2022 due to gun violence.
In the follow-up discussions I’ve read and listened to concerning the recent mass shooting events, one thing keeps jumping out at me. No one expects anything to change anytime soon in this country. Canada is moving to ban handgun sales and possession of assault weapons. No one expects our national lawmakers to take any action whatsoever. There is a feeling of paralysis… of helplessness… of hopelessness.
The sense of hopelessness is not based on our ignorance of what should be done. We KNOW what needs to happen to reduce gun violence. No other developed country has gun violence on a level that is even close to what we have in the United States. We know which concrete steps will reduce gun violence. But no one seems to believe that our lawmakers will take meaningful action.
Of course, when I say “lawmakers,” I mean Republican lawmakers. Which leads me to a more fundamental issue. I don’t know about you, but I am not involved in the work of the Democratic Party because I just want to win elections.
The goal is to bring change to our communities. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: I want a community that is, among other things, more prosperous and more caring and more just and safer for everyone. Achieving a safer and more caring and more just community will take hard work, and it will take a lot longer than one or two or three election cycles. It will involve more than going to the polls on election day, as important as that is. It will take having conversations with friends and neighbors and strangers. It will take organizing and building alliances. It will take getting involved and becoming part of a movement.
I believe most people are ready for some real change. I know a lot of people are discouraged about the possibilities for change. And I am not naïve enough to think that winning elections is going to solve every problem we face in our community. But I know that change is possible. I’ve seen remarkable positive changes over the course of my lifetime. Making a difference requires effort. And a lot of that effort is grunt work. It’s not necessarily exciting. But sustained effort plus time equals a better world for us and for our children.
The Democratic Party is not perfect by a long shot. But the Democratic Party offers a crystal-clear alternative to a Republican Party that seems every day to become more anti-democratic and more hateful toward others. We need to continue to find ways to communicate our values in a way that makes the contrast between Dems and Republicans clear and which invites people to join our movement for change.
Our team of CCDP officers and precinct leaders have recently completed the first year of our two-year term. We have clarified our goals and begun new initiatives and laid a foundation that we now want to build on as we focus on expanding our grassroots connections. The fall elections are just a few months away. There will be lots of opportunities for plugging in and getting involved in ways that fit with your own interests and time availability. But as we work on the fall elections, I want us to stay focused on why we are doing this.
We are doing this because we care about others, we care about the nature of the community we live in, and we care about the kind of world we will bequeath to our children. If we keep that focus front and center, I don’t think we’ll have trouble sustaining the commitment we will need to stay engaged. Let’s celebrate victories large and small, let’s enjoy the fellowship of like-minded souls, and let’s continue to find ways to connect with each other and to support one another. I appreciate each and every one of you, and I’m glad you’re a part of this movement!