Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Out of our minds, with guns blazing

Once again, it's hard not to write about the gun mania that has overtaken our politics. What is this about, really? What is it about this culture that has made getting as many of us armed and dangerous as possible something so essential to the feeling of cultural and ego-identity satisfaction, proclaiming rights not articulated in the Constitution as constitutional.

Let's be more honest than we are usually allowed: There really is no right to concealed or open carry of individual weapons anywhere in the Constitution - this is a figment of the fantasies of an amazingly successful and aggressive gun lobby known as the National Rifle Association.

Oh, and it is also an incredible distraction from what truly ails us as a culture. It's a way to stir up that mythical thing called 'the base,' making that 'base' feel good about themselves while all the drivers that are making life increasingly stressful and eroding its quality go unaddressed because certain people are benefiting rather lavishly from the status quo - from the increasing stress and suffering.

We cannot even have a mandatory 4 hours of training to get a concealed carry license. We cannot have this minute percentage of the hours required to drive a car in order to carry around, hidden from view, a lethal weapon that in the emotion of a bad moment could be used in very, very bad ways. Police officials are not pleased.

State Sen. Lena Taylor was the lone Democrat to join the Repubs on this one. So, Ms. Taylor, what's with that?!?!  Explain, please, because I was with you when you left the state earlier this year (bless you and the WI 14), but you have lost me now. Last June, you referred to guns as 'works of art,' and now you believe these works of art should not require actual training in how to use them. Put a paintbrush in just anyone's hands and see how many works of art actually appear. Any 'art' requires training. But let's also quit this inane NRA-pleasing hyperbole - guns are not a work of art. They are at best a form of sport, and at worst, well, you know, Gabby Giffords, for example, and then a lot of things in between.

Some progressives speculate that Taylor wants to run for state office and thinks this may be a path in that direction. If so, my heart is heavy. I suppose next will come campaign donations from the powerful NRA.

And this is what happens to our poor democracy. From the Uppity Wisconsin link above:

"In the most recent poll, done in May by a national polling firm for the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort (WAVE), voters statewide opposed concealed carry by a 60%-32% margin. By almost 3 to 1 (60%-21%) they said they would feel less safe if concealed weapons were allowed in public, and by a 2 to 1 margin (48%-23%) they said they were less likely to support a candidate who backs concealed carry."

But you see, the opinions of voters and majorities like these simply do not have the same representative power in public office as the clout of special interests like the NRA - and Americans for Prosperity, and Karl Rove's American Crossroads, and Club for Growth, and the consortium of right-wing billionaires who are preparing for 2012 elections. If you care about our democracy, please read this NY Times article from the other day:

Outside Groups Eclipsing GOP as Hub of Campaigns

I try never to exaggerate, but this comprises the biggest threat to our constitutional democracy in my lifetime, and it has been brought to you in large part by our corporate bought Supreme Court justices, especially this Roberts/Alito/Scalia/Thomas era. You see, while everyone was focused on Roe vs Wade as these guys were being considered, the real agenda just passed us by - that what the right really wanted was a court that would give absolute rights to the power of money and large corporations.

Not unlike the way the gun rights issue has just been used and abused in our state. Manipulation of people's anxieties, fears, and prejudices is a very dangerous game, and it is right now being played masterfully by the extreme right wing.

If we want our democracy, we will have to struggle mighty hard to gain it back. I, for one, am getting tired of seeing my government in the hands of those who do not have the well-being of my state and its people at heart. It will be a long slog, but it starts with getting corporate money and unlimited funds from the richest 1% out of our politics.

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