The Arizona Shooter’s Other Victim

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The entrance into the crime scene in Tucson, Ariz. The suspect, Jared Loughner, allegedly shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) in the head during a public event entitled 'Congress on your Corner'. Six people were reported killed in the shooting rampage, and 18, including Giffords, were wounded. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The entrance into the crime scene in Tucson, Ariz. The suspect, Jared Loughner, allegedly shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) in the head during a public event entitled ‘Congress on your Corner’. Six people were reported killed in the shooting rampage, and 18, including Giffords, were wounded. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Written by Dominic DezzuttiNot enough can be said about the horror that the shooter in Arizona caused this weekend. Whether it was the murder of a federal judge or a 9-year-old girl, or the many wounded victims still recovering, there is not anything more important than that actual human cost of this tragedy.

That being said, there is another casualty of this senseless violent act: the connection between our government and its citizens.

This relationship was already suffering from a variety of problems, but this event may mark the beginning of a major change and significant collapse of the true connection between constituents and elected officials.

Regular voters like you and I do not get that many opportunities to interact with our elected Congressional Representatives. Yes, my job affords me a few opportunities when some of our delegation visit our studio on occasion, but even a member of the media doesn’t get the opportunity for interaction that often.

Events like the one that Rep. Giffords held in Tucson this weekend are excellent opportunities for regular folks to talk to their Representatives. Most of the Colorado delegation hold similar events in their own districts.

These events are not designed to be rallies. They are actually designed so that folks who agree or disagree with their Congressperson can show up and speak their mind. And even if they can’t change their Congressperson’s mind on an issue, at least their Representative has seen and heard from a regular person in their district about an important issue.

This opportunity is important because most of the time, our Congressional delegation only get to see and hear people with distinct agendas.

The very most important people that Congress can interact with are their constituents. And because the event in Arizona will increase security, decrease the frequency and change future events for other Congresspeople, the important interaction with regular constituents is going to change and become far less frequent.

What will also change is how constituents who do not agree with their Representatives gain access to personally vent their frustrations. The line between frustrated constituent and deranged lunatic was pretty well defined last week. As of right now, it’s far more fuzzy.

The idea of increased security and more hurdles will also drive regular folks away from future events like these, which in turn will make Congressional Representatives to hold them less frequently, since they won’t be seen as a quality use of their time.

It’s not a stretch to see how this terrible event in Arizona can only hurt future communication between Congress and its constituents in many ways.

Being an optimist, I usually like to have some sort of solution, even it is far fetched, when arriving at such a depressing indictment like the one above. But sadly, I have no idea how we turn this one around. I hope I am wrong, but at this very early point in our digestion of these events, I don’t see how this doesn’t make our already difficult communication with our government even worse. But, like I said, I hope I am wrong.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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