I took the past couple of days off so that I wouldn’t contribute to the rhetoric and also to think about the events in Tucson.
Unfortunately, what I’ve seen and read over the past few days is not the decrease that myself and others had hoped for, but more of a doubling down on the terse and often violent statements from both sides. I’ve seen posts on Tea Party sites that call for a push back from the attacks that the Left is doing, and a call for some of that push back to be violent. I’ve seen and heard posts and commentary from the Left that the remarks and rhetoric from the Right are a possible reason behind the shootings because of a form letter from Rep. Gifford’s office that was found in the suspect’s home that had “die bitch” and “die cops” written on it. and I’ve read some statements that violent actions need to be responded to in violent ways. I have also heard of knee-jerk reactionary bills being proposed for more gun control and limits on firearms near Congressional members.
There are members of the Tea Party Nation, including founder Judson Phillips, that have called the events in Tuscon part of a war between the Tea Party and the Left. There has been talk about using the events to fuel fighting between the Tea Party and the Liberal media to stop the take over of the country by Progressives. The absolute last thing that this country needs is another round of violent talk from either the Right or the Left. There were members of the Tea Party who attended the town halls on health care reform last year who were armed, and other who carried signs that said they weren’t armed, this time. This kind of response does nothing to further the discussion. The only thing it does is incite the other side to either the same response or one that is more violent than the one presented to them. The only real way to change minds and influence people is by open and honest discourse, and that is not possible at the end of weapon. When discussion is furthered by violent methods or intent, it does nothing but up the response from the people you are trying to talk to.
Several bills have been spoken about since the shooting to change the current gun control laws that are in effect. One of the bills would prohibit people from carrying weapons within one thousand feet of members of Congress. Another of the bills being circulated would prohibit large capacity magazines like the one used by the shooter. Also, there is talk of bringing back the Assault Weapons Ban from 1994 that has expired. While I can agree that gun control laws do need to be looked at, we also need to remember the simple fact that a gun by itself does not shoot anyone but it’s the person behind the trigger. We need to remember that the mental condition of Jared Lee Loughner needs to be taken into account. According to reports he has a history of mental problems yet he was able to walk into a gun store, pass the required background check, and buy the weapon he used. If we are to have background checks and waiting periods in order to purchase firearms, how safe and secure can any of us feel if someone like Jason Loughner can purchase a weapon so easily? I feel that we should have such precautionary measures in place before purchasing weapons, but those measures should actually work.
What do you feel about the increase of rhetoric since Tuscon? Do you see the need for push back? Are both sides guilty of pushing the conversation into even more violent responses?
How about changing the gun control laws or the background checks? Do you feel they are broken or are they working as they should? Leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Since today is the last day of the year, it’s only fitting to look ahead to 2011 and list a few things that I would like to see happen…
1) It’s the jobs, stupid — I would dearly like to see real change on the economy and unemployment. While Stimulus I and Stimulus II passed, they were far from enough to really encourage any job growth. When you have tax cuts for the upper tier of income, the extra money they receive does not “trickle down” to the lower classes. Moody’s Analytics listed the top five ways to stimulate the economy, and tax cuts didn’t even come close…
- Increase in Food Stamps
- Extend Unemployment Benefits – not just fund, give extra weeks to those already out of time
- Infrastructure Spending – Stimulus I did some, but far from enough
- Aid to State Governments
- Payroll Tax Holiday
2) No more gridlock — During the 111th Congress, more bills were held up in the Senate because of its arcane rules than any other Congress before it. Even with the increase Republican minority and the new majority in the House, we don’t have to see everything come to a standstill. During the Clinton administration’s first mid-term election he also lost control of Congress, yet he was still able to pass many important and substantive policy programs. Also, the recent lame-duck session was very historic and a lot of really substantive bills were signed into law. I realize that there will need to be compromises in order to get legislation passed, but “compromise” is really the heart of legislative governing. You need to find a common ground for the greater good and do what needs to be done to move the country forward.
3) Change what needs to be changed — The Health-care plan that was passed earlier this year was a good start, but it’s far from perfect. Currently there are many legal challenges to the plan and a call to defund plan when the next spending bill comes up. I feel that there needs to be some changes made to it, but defunding the plan is not the way to go. Instead, I challenge both sides to come up with ways to improve it instead of removing it.
4) Work on the Deficit, but not yet — We owe a lot of money…we owe a hell of a lot of money…we owe so much money that it’s hard to count. I completely agree that we need to do something about it. With a combination of tax increases and spending decreases, along with long term budget balancing and better planning, we can give to our children and grand-children a country that is free of debt.
The problem with doing that now is that we don’t have the economy working with us on this. Once the jobless are working again (and with it more income to the Local, State, and Federal Governments) we can look at what needs to be done. If we start cutting programs now, including the social safety nets like unemployment and Social Security, we may end up and send us back into economic chaos and from that it could take years to recover.
5) The end of the spin cycle — While not directly related to politics, I feel that both sides need to slow down their spin machines and really listen to what they’re saying and how what they say influences the people who listen to it. There are talking heads on both sides, such as Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh on the Right and Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and Ed Schultz on the Left, that at times can be interesting and informative but end up most of the time being nothing more than a distraction from getting things accomplished. It’s important to hear what both sides have to say, but it can be done without all the spin and rhetoric. This country needs and deserves an open and honest commentary on what works and what doesn’t.
6) Campaign Finance Reform, for real — During the mid-terms, we saw an explosion of shadowy campaign advertising groups, nearly unlimited corporate campaign funding, and even funding from interests outside of the country (if the rumored reports about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are true). When large organizations with nearly unlimited money can contribute freely to a campaign, what does that say for the $20 or $100 given by an ordinary citizen. How much interest do you think the campaigns give when comparing the limited money given by a citizen to the millions given by corporations? What needs to happen is real campaign finance reform where corporations and individuals have the same limits, or even better let the citizens have the real power and disallow all businesses and corporations from any contributions.
Well, there is my list of what I would like to see in 2011…what’s on your wish list for the new year?