David Brooks published a piece today suggesting that Republicans won’t pay a price for their ridiculous vote on guns. Instead, he says, it will come down to immigration. But can the Republican Party get behind a comprehensive immigration bill and pass it with Obama in the White House?
It’s a pretty good question, and Brooks is partially right: it’s going to look really bad for the GOP if they can’t pass immigration reform. But he’s wrong about the gun vote—at least, I think. Really, it depends on the American people.
For one thing now is tremendously clear (if it wasn’t clear enough before): we are not living in a democracy. When 90% of Americans are in favor of a bill, more than 50% of Senators vote in favor of that bill, and it doesn’t pass into law, that’s not democracy. You can call it something else, but you can’t call it democracy.
No, the truth is that we are living in a Banana Republic, where government officials are bribed by private interests to do their bidding, and while the Democratic Party is partially influenced by this dynamic, the Republican Party is almost wholly corrupt.
Worse, no one can even reasonably argue that the Republican Party represents the majority of Americans on almost any major issue of our time. For example, though 10% of Senate Democrats bucked 90% of the American people on the background check issue, 90% of Senate Republicans did so. The GOP also generally opposes gay marriage, limits on assault weapons and magazine capacity, legalizing marijuana, infrastructure spending, and government spending on jobs programs, even though a majority (in some cases upwards of 70%) of Americans support all of these things. On some of these issues, like limiting magazine capacity, even a majority of Republicans are in favor. Indeed, in all honesty, Republicans now serving in public office are among the most extreme, right-wing people in all of America—far more conservative and radical than most of the people who vote for them.
So, how long can one of two political parties get away with completely abandoning their duty to represent their constituents, without paying for it at the ballot box? Again, it comes back to the American people: will we pay attention? Do people care whether we have a democracy or not? Will Democrats, Independents, and non-partisans vote in 2014? And finally, will Republicans continue to vote for Republicans candidates out of habit and/or tradition, even though their party doesn’t represent them in Congress?
Now here is where a lot of people would like to insert some snide comment about how dumb Americans are; how we’re a culture of lazy, apathetic, entertainment addicted morons who don’t really care about anything other our own narcissistic existence. And yes, there’s some truth to all that, but at the same time, I think we tend to underestimate ourselves.
Because many Americans are also parents who want their kids to grow up in a civilized society with good schools, good jobs, and a thriving economy. They want them to grow up in a world where they don’t have to worry about being gunned down every time they go to school, or a movie, or the mall. Moreover, many Americans are educated, motivated, intelligent people, desperately clinging to the middle class and the American dream. They believe that we should be free to live how we choose as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. Finally, many Americans are aware of the human impact on the environment, and want to move toward a more sustainable, organic, and less corporatized form of living. And if they’re paying attention, no one in any of the categories above should ever vote for Republicans.
Most of all, however, Americans are a people who believe in democracy. We expect that when there is overwhelming support for a particular policy, our elected representatives had better get it done. No one, not liberals, conservatives, or anyone in between—NO ONE who works for a living, pays taxes, and does their best to live a decent life—has much of a stomach for open corruption or bribery in government.
Well, now, after this gun vote, it’s perfectly clear: our government has been corrupted by bribery and no longer represents the will of the people. But will America care?
David Brooks doesn’t think so. He’s equivocating as usual. But I think he’s wrong. I think we do care. In the end, this vote was much bigger than guns–it shows that we’ve lost our democracy–and I don’t think that is going to sit too well with your average American.
If I’m right, the Republicans are going to have hell to pay in 2014.