Liberal Priorities

Rachel MaddowMaybe I’m just a cynical old guy. But Rachel Maddow spent the entire A section of her show talking about gun control. I’m cool with gun control. As I’ve argued before: by the time we notice that the government is coming for us, our guns won’t do bit of good. (It is interesting that those most concerned about their guns being taken away, are not at all concerned about targeted assassination and executive overreach. Instead, they cheer it on: we’re number one! We’re number one!) So I’m fine with the government coming in and taking away all our guns. The idea that universal background checks will destroy our liberty is more than ridiculous.

But it isn’t that important either. With tighter gun control, we might reduce the number of gun homicides by a thousand per year. That’s a very big deal to those thousand people who don’t get murdered. My question is just how big a deal it is more generally. Families USA reported that 26,000 Americans die every year because they lack health insurance. It is hard to say how many people die early because of poverty. We do, however, know that people in the upper half of income earners live six years longer than those in the bottom half of income earners. So I tend to think it is millions.

This isn’t just about what’s most important. I believe that Rachel Maddow is pushing the gun control story—which she has been doing for months—because it is one issue that looks like a winner for liberals. But is that really what liberals should be pushing? I find that liberals do this much too much for my tastes. There was much rejoicing after the Fiscal Cliff deal, “We made the Republicans cave on taxes!” The fact that the president didn’t get a good deal didn’t seem to matter. And now it looks like a Pyrrhic victory.

So what are we going to get now: a universal background check that is a no brainer in exchange for the 700,000 jobs lost via the Sequester? Is that what we liberals are hanging our hopes on? Are we going to celebrate nationwide same sex marriage while millions of children are born into perpetual poverty? I know it isn’t an either or question. It is just that liberals seem to cheer for the easy, but mostly useless issues, while they don’t even talk about the really important issues.

People are dying but at least we banned that 31 round clip. Now gunmen can only kill 30 people before reloading!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Liberal Priorities

  1. MSNBC is what it is, and Washington Democrats are what they are. For once, though, I’ve love to see them go to battle over something big, even if they risked losing. Why not make Republicans vote against a "public option," or taxes on the rich, or bank reform or a less ridiculous minimum wage?

    Conservatives for years have scored points with supporters by token efforts trying to overturn Roe. But Democrats (with some exceptions) always seem to censor themselves, agreeing to discard a policy idea that might get them beaten. And I don’t just think this is wrong — I also think it is stupid. Useful but small reforms do not keep our country from becoming a worse place to live, every year, and opponents can use the frustration Americans feel to say, "see? Government can’t fix anything." Meanwhile their pipe-dream plans (kill Social Security, kill public schools, bring back the stockade and ban being Black) seem incrementally more reasonable to people who think, wrongly, that anything would be preferable to the mess we’re in now.

    And when we do pass legislation that does help huge numbers of people, we don’t advertise it! Do you remember getting notices from your credit-card companies a few years ago? That they changed their policies on late fees to provide better customer service, or some such? Pure bunk! They got tagged by the law, and now they can’t charge you $50 for being one day late on your balance due of $12.95. This is a very good change, one that benefits everyone not named Chase Manhattan, and no-one knows about it. Those "Terms Of Service" notices should have been mandated, by law, to read "We hate every bit of this; it was brought to you by your elected representatives, whom we hope smolder eternally in Hades." Hell, every package delivered via US Mail ought to have the words on it "this box is not crushed and its contents mangled because, unlike FedEx or UPS, WE GET IN TROUBLE WHEN THAT HAPPENS."

    I realize most of the problem is that liberal politicians are backed by big money, which talks. But I also sense many have a kind of shell-shock. The big lies of conservatism are so brazen, it’s hard to counter them with "my watershed reform plan could be quite helpful to swamplands!" If liberals got behind a big idea (one big money wasn’t too annoyed by) and focused their message on it (the way the other side always does), it’s possible that could start swinging the conversation the other way. As you’ve pointed out, people LIKE liberal positions. It’s apparently just liberal politicians who are afraid of them.

    (I think Robert Reich just felt an eerie twinge in his spinal cord, as though some Internet ranter was repeating everything he’s written for years.)

  2. @JMF – I think the letter should read, "Despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars that we ripped you off for, we were unable to stop the government from from protecting you."

    You are right about Democratic shell shock. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but I’ve written a couple of times recently about negotiations between the Nazis and the Social Democrats where they finally end up at the compromise of killing half the Jews.

    It amazes me that Democrats don’t seem to understand that Republicans will oppose [i]everything[/i]. Thus, it is best to propose policy that is far to the left. Then we might get actually centrist policy, instead of "just this side of fascist" policy.

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