At today’s March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C., students from Parkland, Florida have brought a unique accessory for their fellow student activists to wear during the Saturday demonstrations: a bright orange price tag emblazoned with this amount: $1.05. When Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student-turned-activist David Hogg took the stage this afternoon, he brought one with him to decorate the lectern.
“First off,” said Hogg, “I’m going to start off by putting this price tag right here just to remind you guys just how much Marco Rubio took for every student’s life in Florida: one dollar and five cents.”
The dig at Rubio is intended to suggest that the Republican senator from Florida prioritizes the needs of the National Rifle Association over his own constituents. As Hogg’s sister, Lauren, explained to CNN, “We took the amount of money that Marco Rubio took from the NRA, and we divided it by every single student in the state of Florida. So, this is how much we’re worth to the Florida government. It’s our price tag.”
MSD student @Sarahchadwickk with a $1.05 price tag, which are being passed out at #MarchForOurLives. The price represents the number of students in Florida divided by the amount of money Marco Rubio has taken from the NRA. pic.twitter.com/8tDCVMHXq4
— marilyn (@marilynicsman) March 24, 2018
The Parkland teenagers have some history with Rubio. In the wake of the February 14 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High, Rubio was one of many legislators who appeared at a town hall meeting, sponsored by CNN. During the broadcast, Rubio was confronted by Hogg’s classmate, Cameron Kasky, who asked the senator if he would pledge to stop taking money from the NRA. Rubio demurred, saying, “There’s money on both sides of every issue in America…I will always accept the help of anyone who agrees with my agenda.”
Rubio had told the students he supported an age-restrictions on assault rifles but, after the townhall, reversed his position. The NRA opposed the move.
Rubio released a statement Saturday afternoon lecturing students on the political process.
My full statement on today's marches: pic.twitter.com/ZpRNotSbyP
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 24, 2018
The corrupting influence of that money was foremost on David Hogg’s mind as he addressed the crowd in Washington Saturday afternoon, in a speech that mainly urged the youth gathered in activism in the nation’s capital to take their passion to the ballot box.
“The cold grasp of corruption shackles the District of Columbia,” Hogg said. “The winter is over. Change is here. The sun shines on a new day and the day is ours. First time voters show up eighteen percent of the time in midterm elections. Not anymore.”
Hogg asked the crowd, “Now who here is going to vote in the 2018 election?” The assembled answered with lusty cheers.
We’re going to make this a voting issue, we’re going to take this to every election, in every state, and every city. We’re going to make sure our best people get in elections to run not as politicians but as Americans. Because this is not cutting it. When people try to suppress your vote, and people try to stand against you because you’re too young, we say, no more.
When politicians say that your voice doesn’t matter because the NRA owns them, we say, no more.
When politicians send their thoughts and prayers, with no action, we say, no more.
And to those politicians supported by the NRA, that allow the continued slaughter of our children and our future, I say get your resumes ready.
The National Rifle Association has been a considerable force in electoral politics in recent cycles. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the organization “took a historic gamble in 2016, and it paid off in a huge way.” As the CRP’s Mike Spies and Ashley Balcerzak reported:
The gun rights group placed multimillion-dollar bets on Donald Trump and six Republican Senate candidates locked in highly competitive races. It poured $50.2 million, or 96 percent of its total outside spending, into these races, and lost only one — an open seat in Nevada, vacated by the Democratic Minority Leader, Harry Reid. That race cost the NRA roughly $2.5 million.
The NRA’s “investment,” they add, was “more than any other outside group.”
Against such a potent force, Hogg urged his fellow young activists to stay unified: “Now, they will try to separate us, by demographics. They will try to separate us by religion, race, congressional district, and class. They will fail. We will come together. We will get rid of these public servants that only serve the gun lobby. And we will save lives, you are those heroes.”
You can watch the entirety of Hogg’s address, below.