The Senate defeated a bill supported by 90% of Americans. This is clear evidence of how truly dysfunctional Congress is today. Mark Twain wrote, “Suppose you are a member of Congress and suppose you are an idiot – but I repeat myself.” Back in the Gilded Age the Senate was known as the millionaires club and their guiding star was money. We are back to just that situation. The problem is compounded by the reality that it takes a super-majority of 60 to pass a bill; that the GOP says openly it considers its main job to be denying Obama and the Dems anything and everything; and the Citizens United case and the “money is speech” case that have turned DC into bribery central.
Why did these 46 senators vote against universal background checks for gun purchases? They are concerned that the NRA, which has 4 Million members (85% of whom supported this bill) in a nation of 330 million people, would support and fund opponents and end their political careers, if they voted for the measure. The NRA wields an inordinate amount of power. Their face, Wayne LaPierre, who is paid just under a million dollars a year, opposes any or all additional regulations for gun ownership. This benefits their true sponsors – gun manufacturers who are making money hand over fist by spreading the absurd rumor that the federal government is going to take away all their guns.
That an irresponsible lobbying organization can work against the public interest so successfully is a symptom of a much bigger problem. The only guiding principle in DC is money. This is a reversion to the age of Robber Barons. (An excellent history of that era is Barbara Tuchman’s “The Proud Tower” but I also have Twain’s “The Gilded Age” on my iPad and I plan on reading it soon) Our news media are now owned by a handful of corporations who seem to go along with the political philosophy of treating the electorate like mushrooms (keep them in the dark and feed them plenty of BS). The blogosphere and Internet may be our only hope for free expression. We need a revival of muckraking journalism and the kind of reforms that Teddy Roosevelt achieved.
What can we do? You do not have to remain silent. Sign online petitions and encourage your friends to do so. I have not yet found one in response to that shameful vote, but you can let the White House know you want universal background checks. There are campaigns n this in several states. Let your senators know how you feel about the way they voted. If there is a movement in your state, sign on. You can request face time with your reps in DC and the state legislatures in their home office in your area. If you can go to DC or your state capital, ask for face time there. You might find yourself meeting with a staff member, but that’s okay. Elected officials figure that if one person takes this trouble there are a lot more like her among the voters. If you are a gun owner and agree that we need better laws, make sure you tell them that.
I did a lot of this over the past 35 years or so. One of the reasons for my blog is to make my readers understand how important it is not to act on your beliefs and opinions. As Gandhi said, be the change you want to see.