“It didn’t matter to me that she didn’t vote with me as often as I would have liked her to,” Rep. Clyburn of the state’s 6th Congressional District said in interview from his Columbia office on January 9, just one day after the Tucson shooting.
“What really matters to me was that she was the sort of person we should have in public life.”
Clyburn first met Giffords in 2006, when she invited him to speak in Arizona during her first Congressional campaign. It was that initial time of personal interaction with Giffords, who first took the House office in that year’s election, that afforded Clyburn the opportunity to know her and to set the stage to work with her in Congress.
While Giffords, a former Republican, did uphold and vote for particular conservative issues, she also supported progressive developments, including the national healthcare bill.
That wide spectrum of representation displayed by Giffords’ votes for both conservative and progressive causes is what causes the most shock to the recent attempt of her assassination, Clyburn noted.
“It seems as if all the things she has been fighting to defend,” Clyburn said, “are the things that this particular deranged individual seemed to be proponent of. And it just doesn’t make sense.”
Giffords was the main target in Jared Lee Loughner’s January 8 shooting, which struck 18 people and killed six. Loughner’s impetus in the attempted assassination has been hypothesized to be an anti-immigrant stance.
Giffords has record of voting for tougher immigration laws, however, while still supporting general rights of children of illegal immigrants.
The particular timing of this tragic incident brought Clyburn to encourage Americans to no longer remain silent about this incident or others which it mirrors.
“We're getting ready to celebrate this weekend the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., who admonished us that we are going to regret in this generation not just the vitriolic words and deeds of bad people, but the appalling silence of good people.”
If they remain silent, warned Clyburn, “the people of ill will will have won the debate."