December 17, 2012

Post-Sandy Hook, GOP can lead, follow, or disappear

A couple of years back, I blogged about the GOP's craven transformation of once non-partisan issues into partisan wedge issues. Gun control was number-one, followed by the environment, immigration, civil rights, and campaign finance reform. Recently, the more Congressional Republicans push their partisan buttons on basic common-sense issues, the more they lose at the voting booth and in demographic projections of party allegiance.

This is good news, not because Democrats are more deserving than Republicans, but because in the end America needs practical solutions. The unspeakable tragedy that occurred last Friday may finally pull us -- and even the Republican Party -- back from the brink of the gun lobby's stranglehold on even basic measures like uniform background checks and a general ban on assault weapons. If the GOP maintains its blanket opposition to any further gun restrictions, that will further exacerbate its own failure to relate to the majority of Americans, even many of its own supporters.

If, with President Obama's leadership on the issue, our nation can succeed on gun control, we might have enough momentum to apply people power against well-organized big money in the other areas as well. It is too late to avert widespread environmental catastrophe during the 21st century, but it is never too late to start instituting serious emission controls and other regulations and incentives to minimize the kind devastation and dislocation that scientific consensus has been predicting for years.

Either the GOP joins up, or it continues its long-term decline as a political force -- analogous to the resulting inevitability of climate change. But we must succeed in addressing these issues regardless. And either way, our children and our grandchildren will be a little less disadvantaged. In the meantime, I'm taking my kids to visit glaciers before it really is too late.

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