Look here, people. I got into political writing and away from music journalism because I wanted to write about something that mattered. Something that could change the world. (Never mind that music can do that, on its best days, and besides, I had other reasons, not the least of which was that I was getting old and I couldn’t stay out till 4 a.m. several nights in a row like I used to. Political soirees end a lot earlier than nightclubs’ closing hours. These people have to get up in the morning.) Politics, at least here in America, no longer matters, in that it can no longer change the world. The political process can’t even keep our own nation from careening about the place like Frankenstein’s monster after a campfire sighting.
The Senate is, at this point, utterly incapable of doing its job. The gun-control fiasco, in which legislation supported by 90 percent of the population failed to pass, taught us of the total ineffectualness of the institution. Ninety freaking percent. There is practically not a single issue of any importance that can get those numbers. Hell, 44 percent of Republicans believe that “in the next few years, an armed revolution might be necessary to protect our liberties” according to one recent poll, and yet 90 percent of us — including Republicans — still agree that gun owners should pass a background check. The gun control legislation actually had enough votes to pass — that is, a majority, but these days, the Senate needs 60 votes to pass anything more controversial than a post-office naming. The tactic of demanding 60 votes for any piece of legislation senators don’t necessarily agree with leaped in usage when the Republicans were in the minority during the end of Poppy Bush’s administration. Once Republicans took over the Senate in the Republican wave of 1994, the new Democratic minority kept up the tactic at about the same pace. But once Republicans were returned to the minority at the tail end of the Bush years, use of the filibuster skyrocketed. It’s perhaps best displayed in this handy graph.
This is not, then a multiparty problem. The Republican Party has used the filibuster in ways it was never intended, and has now ground the working of government to a halt. There have been numerous stories about Republican senators taking a hit for voting against gun control, none so much as Jeff Flake of Arizona and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. Indeed, one relative of a victim of the Sandy Hook massacre posed this question to Sen. Ayotte at a town hall meeting she held after the vote: “You had mentioned the burden to owners of gun stores that these expanded background checks would cause. I’m just wondering why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the hall of her elementary school isn’t as important as that?”
But, hell, Sen. Ayotte’s about the sanest politician to come out of the Granite State. State legislator Stella Tremblay thinks the Boston Marathon bombing was caused by the government, because that legless guy in the wheelchair wasn’t screaming enough. And New Hampshire state legislator Edmond Gionet says that his constituents are worried that we’re dangerously close to a revolution (that his constituents will no doubt have to lead, like the Wolverines or something). Of course, that shouldn’t be too surprising, given the poll I cited earlier. But the main takeaway from these things is this: We Are Too Far Gone As A Nation To Be Ruled By The Dumb.
The borderline insane are not just limited to state legislatures, where they are found en masse. Even in the hallowed halls of the U.S. Congress, we find people like Missouri Rep. Billy Long, who looks almost exactly like the wheelchair-bound, older Lebowski from The Big Lebowski and — given his recent statements — shares many of the same sentiments. Long has actually argued that his constituents want more sequestration cuts, not less. (Notice the pattern here — as with state Rep. Gionet, above, these nutballs claim they’re just representing their constituents, without citing anything like poll numbers or letters from said constituents. It’s the same thing as Fox News anchors saying “Some say…” before filling in their own opinions.)
Even in the sainted halls of the U.S. Senate, where watered-down, more-than-reasonable gun control legislation goes to die, you’ve got people like Oklahoman Sen. James Inhofe arguing that the Dept. of Homeland Security is buying up all the ammo, so responsible, God-fearing, tax-paying, not-at-all-ready-to-murder-the-government-in-a-bloody-revolution citizens can’t get any. Seriously. Even the NRA says this is hogwash, but a sitting U.S. senator does not.
And what about the old Tea Party, the first sign that the right-wing had really gone round the bend into crazy town? Forget them. They’re too busy trying to draft Sarah Palin (Remember Sarah Palin?) to run for Senate in Alaska. Because, hey, the Senate could really use Sarah Palin to throw a monkey wrench in there, what with having all these too-lefty, moderate voices like James Inhofe.
Hell, even a deeply conservative senator, Pat Toomey, admitted that the gun-control legislation got torpedoed not because all of these Republican senators are actually for unrestricted access to guns, but because they refuse to allow Obama anything that even has the smell of a victory.
Meanwhile, a 5-year-old in Kentucky just shot and killed his 2-year-old sister with the gun that his parents legally bought for him, a gun that is specifically marketed for children as “My First Rifle.”
Sensible gun control? Fuck that. Rifles for 5-year-olds. Now you’re talking.
Stop it, America. Stop electing people who think background checks are the first step toward death camps. This country cannot afford your stupidity any longer. The only saving grace is that the nutcases are a small minority — but as long as they can filibuster everything they see that makes them think the government is going to put them into FEMA camps (read: Every piece of legislation, ever.), even a couple of crazies are enough to destroy our government.