To Those In Favor of Bullying

I've paced every bit of marble around the rotunda between the two chambers many times today. I've been on the phone and visited members in their rabbit warren of basement office suites one after another. Senate members have talked to House members with me but it is no good now. The bullying bill S1105 is dead. It died on the calendar for lack of consideration.

To the young people from Sandpoint, Nampa, Jerome, Boise, Challis and across the state who I have told "It gets Better" — I need you to know, it does. Even if the most powerful in our state don't all yet understand the road you've walked, the strength you have had to find inside your selves when others said you had none. Still it gets better. I have promised to make it better — and I will. We will.

This year we tried so hard and came so close. But you must know there are people here who have not heard your stories. There are elected Representatives who think that bullying makes a person stronger. They need to understand how wrong that is.

And yes I asked them:

Have you never walked then in the shoes of a child whose family has rejected them, their church has turned them away, and now, at school, they are taunted or hit by those who think difference is a weakness — that it gives others a license to cause pain.

Have you never been a child whose life is a struggle on its own –and for whom school could be salvation or a hell –but because of the calculated cruelty of just one person, it does become a hell.

Have you have never watched a young person fail to see the beauty inside themselves? Have you watched someone see nothing but darkness — no strength or promise — until that they take their own life?

If you ever imagined such sadness, you might have fought for this bill.

But the House has just gaveled an end and adjourned for the year. The Senate has been done for a few hours. The kind words there flowed for a bit like and odd balm after three months of battle. The issues from closed primaries to rejecting federal health reform, cutting mental health treatment and education all split the Republican Party and the Senate itself again and again.

And the bill to make it better for young people died.



There is no end in this though only a beginning because there need to be more voices next year. If you have stories you need to share them. We need them. We need you to help us make sure it gets better.

Hard Endings

In these last days, the boxes come out. Empty stacks of them line the halls like flimsy coffins. Senator McKenzie announced this morning we have tied now with the 10th longest session in our 121 year history. By Friday we will tie with the 5th longest. Yet this one with its gut wrenching policies and passionate, even desperate bipartisan debate, seems to have passed like a blurred dream.

–Long evenings pouring over each new version of Tom Luna's long, painful bills to find any change, the implications of each new word or deletion.

–Walking in here from dark streets in the snow or rain or cold. People honking, waving, thumbs up.

–Streams of email like water, where my email box came alive, filling faster than i could read or move to sort or answer.

–The tears of teachers. Many times. Passing words. Me wishing I could say how sorry I am, in my core.

And somehow I expected we would do more than just damage, that there would be a limit to the damage we were willing to do. But, with a few brilliant exceptions, we moderates and Democrats lost every major floor debate: protecting schools; trying to stop the bleeding in Medicaid, mental health and disability services; protecting private end of life and medical decisions; opposing the Republican Party's attempts to strip voters bare, branding party affiliation in waterproof marker on every human chest.

And here I need to say this –say the Republican Party seems broken, bogged down in divisive social and anti-government issues that have been impairing its ability to deal with our state's failure to recover economically; to grow not destroy jobs; protect services which people's lives depend on; stop policy that is already demoralizing and decimating the most important profession in this state, policy which gives millions away to corporations under the guise of reform.

I wish all those moderates out there and in here who have been bashed and bloodied — those who have had enough of all this would join Democrats, help us re-build the Democratic Party back to something powerful enough to check this freight train that is taking our schools and economy downhill before our eyes. What more does it take? What more has to happen? What more can they do to you?