Guns, Gays and Immigration
In desperate need of an excuse for voting against background checks, here’s the one an unnamed Democratic senator is using.
“Guns, gays and immigration — it’s too much. I can be with you on one or two of them, but not all three.”
Apparently, asking some politicians to do the right thing more than twice in the same time period crosses the line of reasonable demands. Getting votes triumphs doing the right thing every single time.
…this isn’t just an explanation for a vote. It’s a salve for a guilty conscience. This is not the sort of rationalization that would be leaking from the chamber if senators were confident they’d done the right thing. It’s a rationalization for people who feel they did the wrong thing, and want to tell themselves it’s the cost for doing the right thing later, on an even larger scale.
Noam Scheiber of the New Republic writes an excellent piece on what it is that makes politicians turn their backs on sensible gun control.
…guns tend to be remote from the experience of most gun-control supporters. This is true even after a horrific act of gun violence like Newtown. Though every parent was briefly traumatized by the thought of their child being massacred at school, only a small fraction of parents (and especially parents who vote) are directly or even indirectly affected by such crimes.
This means that, even when overwhelming majorities of Americans support a specific gun-control measure, their support is shallow. Guns and gun violence just aren’t something they spend a lot of time contemplating. The voters who oppose gun control, on the other hand, (hunters, shooting enthusiasts, crazy people) devote a good bit of mental energy to firearms. As a result, they’re easily mobilized by the interest groups who spend all their time on the matter (namely gun-makers and lobbyists).
Scheiber makes the case that the same logic applies to other issues – notably, global warming. While most of us have an understanding that weather has been chaotic over the last number of years and that global temperatures are on the rise, relatively few have been negatively affected in a big way by climate change. On the other hand, big oil understands only too well the implications that comprehensive carbon regulations would have on the bottom line. Therefore…
…voters who work in the fossil fuel industry or whose states depend on it—have no trouble picturing the downsides of making oil, gas, and electricity costlier. As with guns, the people who spend all their time thinking about this (your friends at Exxon Mobil and BP) can rile them up pretty easily.
Be wary of using words like ‘politician’ and ‘courageous’ in the same sentence.