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Thursday, June 16, 2016

How Democrats Managed to Fuck Up the Gun Control Filibuster

It is making my stomach turn to have to say this, but:

I absolutely cannot support the idea of using the terrorist watch list as our way of regulating access to guns.

It’s not just a little off, it’s downright wrong. It legitimizes the existence of this list, which has no transparency or due process, no judicial oversight, and whose existence the ACLU opposes. And worse, it’s a cowardly attempt to “get something done” that still relies on the use of [brown] terrorists as the political and rhetorical boogey-man.

I love, love, love, that someone in Congress is finally standing up and disrupting business as usual to make something happen on gun regulation. I welled up when I first saw the headlines. I was so proud of having helped Chris Murphy (in my own small way) get elected to the Senate in 2012.

But that feeling quickly wore off when I read what was actually happening. Even on this issue, which should be a slam dunk for Democrats right now, it happens that the party that’s ostensibly on my side is doing things I find to be not just imperfect but harmful and counter-productive. Taking shortcuts with civil liberties and racial animus should never be acceptable strategies for getting a bill across the finish line. Shame on the Senate Democrats for their opportunism, for this moral and political cowardice. And now we’re going to have a facebook feed full of liberals and progressives vehemently defending this approach in terms of both the policy and the politics.

I’m not against compromise, but compromise means you put up a bill to ban a lot of guns and eventually say yes to a deal that just bans some guns plus high-capacity mags. It doesn’t mean that you pick an approach that appeals in one part to your base and in another part to the worst instincts that feed and strengthen your opponents over the long-term.

This seems to be the Democratic way of doing things – validate the bad worldview to get the good result. (And it’s seen as a virtue! a sign that one knows how to Get Things Done™.) But it’s a recipe for a generational backslide like the one we’ve been experiencing all my life, and it does nothing to build the kind of political culture and meaningful narratives that will help us when the next Iraq War comes up for a vote, or the next Welfare Reform, or the next Crime Bill. The GOP is a huge and active driver of culture in their own way; on the left, social media and hollywood and pride parades and #BlackLivesMatter drive culture – and Democrats just keep sucking.

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