It was high drama in Congress, as house democrats staged all night sit in, demanding action on gun control legislation they say is being held up by the republicans. The majority party, the republicans, controls the video feed and turned it off.

In 2016 the easy alternative to be heard --and seen -- is social media.  Legislators used their cell phones to tweet and post live video.  Some individual posts with  #nobillnobreak and #holdthefloor were seen by more than a million people. Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA) was one of the reps who spearheaded the effort. She was heartened by the reaction she witnessed.

“The gallery in the house chamber last night started to fill, late into the night, people coming to literally applaud our efforts, and we saw a spontaneous group of guys grow to hundreds at the bottom of the capitol steps, asking for a vote”- Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA)

The sit in drew a different response from house speaker Paul Ryan who said, “This is nothing more than a publicity stunt, that's point number one. Point number two is this bill was already defeated in the United States Senate.”

Can an action like this be effective or is it all about show?  And what does it say about the current state of bipartisan relations in Washington?

Joining Adam to discuss the crazy politics are Tom Whalen (@TomWhalenBU), a political science professor from Boston University; Heather Cox Richardson, professor of history, Boston College; and Dante Ramos (@danteramos), a Boston Globe editorial writer.

Tom Whalen started off by saying that for political optics the democrats had a major victory he also added that Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) looked like, “Doogie Howser with a gavel in the house chamber” and is going against John Lewis (D-GA) who is a champion of the civil rights movement. He also added that most Americans are supportive of the position to prevent terrorists from getting assault rifles.

Dante Ramos finds that in the moment this is a victory for the democrats. The democratic party is looking to change the conversation around guns, he added that after Newtown there was an idea that  “the NRA won and that there’s not a whole lot that can be done here.” Ramos referred to an article in theAtlantic by Jonathan Rauch where Rauch writes that the institutions that kept congress together are essentially falling apart. Ramos finds that this protest is affirmation of Rauch’s perspective. “You see from the dismissive reaction of Paul Ryan and others, ‘oh it’s just a publicity stunt,’ that it’s not clear that it’s going to have a major affect on legislation.” Ramso hopes that he is wrong, because he is sympathetic to the cause.

Heather Cox Richardson’s take is that this has been an important moment. She also began by stating that many actions of the republicans since Obama took office have been publicity stunts. But in reference to the sit-in by congress Cox Richardson said, “ in the past ten days, we’ve had a number of people coming out and saying we have to change the conversation about what America really means- who are we; what do we stand for?” She said that it matters that politicians have come forward saying that we have to be kinder and more gentle toward people. She also added that the conversation should no longer be about us vs them, black vs white, love vs hatred. She finds that this sit-in demonstrated that the current government can no longer represent the type of division it once represented.

Whalen went further to say that the democrats knew they would lose this legislatively, but this demonstration showed the American people where they stand and where the republicans stand on this issue. “They [democrats] can use this against the republicans candidates in the fall like a mallet because, as we know, presidential election cycles democrats have a much higher turnout. So this will help the ballot.”

Adam asked if it makes sense to infuse this issue of gun control with civil rights symbolism is helpful, or meaningful. Many representatives took selfies with John Lewis, and they sang “We Shall Overcome.” Ramos thinks that democrats are up against an unproductive dynamic in congress. Also, the democrats are trying to portray themselves as the party that is trying to get results and push policy forward. However, the republican party has been a ‘circus,’ and democrats are making that contrast.

Cox Richardson said that the vast majority of Americans stand with democrats on this issue. She explained that this is not a middle ground issue. Whalen chimed in that it shows that the democrats have the guts, “ too often they’ve been supine positioned in the house and in the senate, regards to gun control, afraid they’re going to lose elections come the fall.” This is a stand-up moment.

For more from Tom Whalen, Heather Cox Richardson, and Dante Ramos on other political news, watch the clip above.