Friday, April 19, 2013

Even Joe Scarborough is making sense on gun control

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Look, he's an irrational blowhard who basks in the supremacy of his gut, and his claim to represent the center with his generally center-right views is ridiculous (if also Broderian Beltway orthodoxy), but he's hardly an ideological extremist of the sort that currently dominates his Republican Party, and his response to the Senate's failure to pass the compromise expanded background checks bill, including a strong critique of the GOP, was nothing if not admirable:

You don't ignore 90 percent of what the voting population wants when you're talking about the safety of Americans, of our families, of our communities, of our schools. The safety that we feel when we send our kids to malls, to churches, to college... I just want to be clear. I said this party is heading towards extinction. Talking about the 2013 version of the Republican Party. A new Republican Party, though, is going to come in its place. This sort of extremism is going to be called out by the 90%. We're the 90% and we are going to win. This is just the first battle.

Well, I hope he's right, though I would note that the Manchin-Toomey proposal wasn't exactly a great bill. Maybe it would have been a start, but a lot more is needed, including reforms that don't have 90% popular support and so require even more "courage" from legislators. (And more than just Obama's proposed executive actions.)

I would also note that while it was a Republican filibuster that set the bar at 60 votes and so blocked the bill (which got 54 votes), Democrats were able to use the supermajority requirement to block a truly reprehensible Republican/NRA proposal to require states to recognize out-of-state permits for concealed handguns -- but just barely, as that bill got 57 votes. Yes, the Senate apparently thinks it's more important to have more concealed handguns than expanded background checks. (As well, it's pretty clear that the right's commitment to states' rights is, uh, flexible.)

Anyway, Scarborough is right that the Republican Party is a party of extremism. But will it ever pay for it -- for its extremism on guns, for its extremism generally?

Well, maybe, but its lies and deceptions, its propaganda and fearmongering, widepread ignorance and false consciousness, and a Congressional electoral system with built-in Republican biases will no doubt keep it alive and at least fairly well for a long time to come.

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