On Yesterday's Senate Failure

Trying to create laws that prevent specific past events is sort of like trying to stick your finger in a dam and hoping that fixes the problem. It’s neither here nor there whether this law would have stopped the senseless murder of twenty children under the age of eight, and eight adults. If we could invent policy like that, with the exception of the National Rifle Association’s leadership, I’m sure we would all go back in time, and strip Adam Lanza of all ten of the rights granted to him in our bill of rights. Besides that, I’m not sure there is a possible way of stopping Adam Lanza. He’s already dead, and the deed’s been done so there’s no point in trying.

That said – while its probably the most disgusting act of cowardace we’ve seen in awhile, it’s not the only act of cowardice. From Columbine to Sandy Hook, from Mark Barton to Sueng-Hui Cho, its clear that guns are getting into the wrong hands more often than I’d like, and that something needs to change.

The bill that didn’t pass yesterday certainly was not the solution I was looking for, and it certainly wasn’t the step that most people were looking for. But it was a compromise, and compromises are designed for consensus, not partisan victory. More than anything, I think Americans were looking to see if the United States Senate could accomplish something – anything – of a step forward. Having a bill that 90% of Americans, 80% of Gun owners, and 70% of NRA members support seems like it ought to be accomplishable.

Think about the last time you heard about the number 90% in politics. Do you know how hard it is to get 90% of people to agree on anything? Very few members of Congress won with 90% of the vote. No president I’ve ever heard of won with 90% of the vote.

For the United States Senate to turn its back on 90% of the people’s will – that isn’t about guns. It’s about demonstrating that an institution that’s vitally important is so hopelessly broken that it’d rather turn its back on the people it serves than confront a single special interest group.

See – these things are related: you might hate that government doesn’t let you buy fresh milk, and raids milk farms, and I might hate that government doesn’t mandate ingredient lists on cigarettes and alcohol. You might want to tap the oil well in your back yard, and I might want to finance solar panels to put on my roof. But all of these things are related: the ability for a narrow set of people to manipulate our government towards their will instead of the people’s. It’s subtracting the common from our sense.

And that is far more dangerous to our livelihoods and our future security than any crazy guy with a gun. And that’s why even if you are happy with the Senate’s failure to pass a bill yesterday, you should still be pissed off. In order to fix the system, we have to excuse ourselves from our emotions on individual issues of the day, and look more towards fixing it when the system goes so dramatically against the will of the people. Until we understand that every time – whether we disagree with the individual outcome or not – that when the system does that, it is a failure of us as voters, we cannot change anything.

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