Thursday, April 18, 2013

Whose Fault Was The Gun Control Vote In The Senate?


I don't know anything about Andrew Kaczynski or his politics. He writes for a website called BuzzFeed and he tweeted the above just after every Republican but 3 voted against a moderate, bipartisan background check amendment and after every Democrat except 4 voted for it... some of those Democrats voting against it being very much red state Dems, including Red state Dems facing difficult reelection battles. Many observers were shocked that Arizona freshman Jeff Flake voted NO and some say that had he or Portman signaled they would be YES votes, the 4 Democratic cowards would have steeled themselves to vote YES as well.

The fact remains, though, that depending on what polling data you look at, between 86 and 91% of Americans favored that bill 45% of senators, all but 4 of them Republicans voted down. And, as Jesse LaGreca responded to Kaczynski's tweet, even if every single Democrat voted yes, along with the 3 Republican cross-aisle voters, it would have still failed to get through the Republican Party filibuster, announced in advance and organized by Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Miss McConnell (R-KY).

But even with all that evidence, I want to go beyond just blaming the Republican Party. The real culprits were not the red state Democrats or the GOP. The real culprits in this-- as in everything that has always been wrong throughout American history (we'll leave the world for another discussion)-- are conservatives. The nature of conservatism is where the problem lies. Keep in mind, by it's evolution and ideology, it is patently impossible to separate conservatism and corruption and that comes into play as well, but let's take a look at the history of the role of conservatism in this country-- right from the beginning.

Guess who was aghast at the idea of breaking away from the British monarchy and declaring independence. Guess who fought on the side of the British during the American War of Independence. Hint: it wasn't liberals or progressives. I wish every DWT visitor would read Mike Lux's classic American history book, The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be. Here's a little summary by Mike:
The two parties which divide the state, the party of conservatism and that of innovation are very old, and have disputed the world ever since it was made. Now one, now the other gets the day, and still the fight renews itself as if for the first time, under new names and hot personalities.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is the contention of this book that American history consists of one long battle between the forces of reaction and the defense of wealth and power, on the one hand, and the forces of progressivism and community, on the other.

If you look at our country’s long history, from the days of the first stirrings of our revolutionary impulses against Britain to today, progressive leaders and progressive movements have moved this country forward in the face of bitter-- and frequently violent-- opposition from reactionaries and defenders of the status quo. Consider the major advances in American history:

• The American Revolution
• The Bill of Rights and the forging of a democracy
• Universal white male suffrage
• Public education
• The emancipation of the slaves
• The national park system
• Food safety
• The breakup of monopolies
• The Homestead Act
• Land grant universities
• Rural electrification
• Women’s suffrage
• The abolition of child labor
• The eight hour workday
• The minimum wage
• Social Security
• Civil rights for minorities and women
• Voting rights for minorities and the poor
• Cleaning up our air, our water, and toxic dump sites
• Consumer product safety
• Medicare and Medicaid

Every single one of those reforms, which are literally the reforms that made this country what it is today, was accomplished by the progressive movement standing up to the fierce opposition of conservative reactionaries who were trying to preserve their own power. American history is one long argument between progressivism and conservatism.

The striking thing about this long debate is how much the arguments that have occurred are repetitive over time, in terms of their rhetoric, constituencies, philosophy, and the values they represent. From generation to generation, the conservatives who oppose reform and progress have used the same kinds of arguments over and over again. Arthur Schlesinger Jr. described the division as one between “public purpose and private interest.”

...The arguments by conservatives all too frequently invoke fear-- of change, of one another, of foreigners and foreign enemies, or of certain people. They proclaim a loud and fervent patriotism and a love of traditional values, quite often quoting the Bible to justify their point of view, while ignoring those patriots and Bible quotes that don’t fit their agenda.

Progressives, on the other hand, have called for hope, rather than fear, and for changing things for the better, rather than just leaving things the way they have always been. We have been for more power for regular folks and less power for elites. And we have been for a stronger sense of community, rather than the sense that each of us is on his or her own.

The central theme of this book is to show how these political arguments have been repeated over time and time again since the American Revolution, how the same alternative visions of America keep being argued over and over, and how when progressives have won the day politically, the country has moved forward.

The good news is that a more progressive vision of what America can aspire to has prevailed enough times over the years to make us a far better country. While it is certainly true that the United States is more conservative by many measures than the industrialized countries in Europe, and that progress has been uneven and painfully slow, we are also the country that invented the modern notions of democracy and equality, and that legacy has echoed down through the generations and inspired new movements to make their claims on the American dream.

American history has always been a mixed bag, with vision and courage and progress mixed together with slavery, the brutal killing of many millions of American Indians, wars shouldn’t have fought, and altogether too much greed. There have been plenty of times when the progressive movement was too weak and small to stop bad things from happening, or when it settled for compromises on fundamental issues, such as slavery and women’s suffrage.

Even leaders who pushed for progressive policy in some areas failed us in others... [T]his is especially true in terms of the way otherwise progressive leaders, such as Jefferson, Jackson, Wilson, and FDR, have failed us on racial justice issues. But it applies to other leaders as well. For example, Teddy Roosevelt created the national park system, partially broke apart the big trusts, and brought us some measure of food safety, but he had no use for unions or women’s suffrage, allowed some of the worst lynchings in the nation’s history to occur in the south, and was a military adventurer. Woodrow Wilson brought us the single most important economic reform in the country’s history-- a progressive income tax-- and his ideas set the stage for many New Deal-era reforms and the United Nation, but he got us into a stupid, wasteful war that we had no business being in. Kennedy and Johnson helped push through civil rights laws, Medicare, and Medicaid, but got us into the Vietnam War.

Yet even with all of the disappointments that are part of America’s history, we also know that the progressive arguments and movements have prevailed again and again and have created democracy where progress is always possible. Movement leaders such as Tom Paine, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, John L. Lewis, Walter Reuther, Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, and Rachel Carson have always been ahead of the politicians and have pushed our country to become better. Our history is full of progressive leaders fighting the good fight, and winning much of the time, to create a better nation. The battle between conservatism and progress will continue to be fought as long as there is a United States of America.
Wednesday the conservatives won a battle. Ultimately, of course, they will lose the war. Because, by their nature, they are losers and always lose. I might add, the Senate candidates on this page all support strong gun control measures. If you give money to the DSCC-- which is chaired by cowardly NRA shill Michael Bennet who himself voted against Feinstein's assault weapons ban Wednesday-- much of it will wind up going to elect conservatives. Money invested on this page, only goes to progressives-- and you pick the ones yourself you want it to go to.

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