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The Third Wave Revolutionaries

David Brooks of the New York Times has written an interesting article questioning whether recent bi-partisan progress on background checks and immigration is more of an illusion than a reality. He describes the current Republican Congressional leadership and the radio shock jobs as  “first wave revolutionaries” and “second wave revolutionaries,”  respectively. I would say the third wave of revolutionaries will be the moderates.  

Read and see what you think! 

David Brooks/ New York Times 
Liberals are furious, but the gun issue will not significantly damage the Republican Party. Sure, it looks bad to oppose background checks, which have overwhelming popular support. Sure, the Republican position will further taint the party’s image in places like the suburbs of Philadelphia and Northern Virginia. Sure, the party looks extreme when it can’t accept a bill sponsored by the conservative Senator Joe Manchin and the very conservative Senator Pat Toomey.
But, let’s face it, the gun issue has its own unique dynamic, which is that the people who oppose gun limits vote on this issue while the people who support them do not.

Moreover, Democrats never made a compelling case that the bill would have been effective, that it would have directly prevented future Sandy Hooks or lowered the murder rate nationwide. Even many of the bill’s supporters were lukewarm about its contents.

The main reason the gun issue won’t significantly harm Republicans is that it doesn’t play into the core debate that will shape the future of the party. The issue that does that is immigration. The near-term future of American politics will be determined by who wins the immigration debate.

In the months since the election, a rift has opened between the Republicans you might call first-wave revolutionaries and those you might call second-wave revolutionaries. The first-wave revolutionaries (the party’s Congressional leaders) think of themselves as very conservative. They ejected the remaining moderates from their ranks. They sympathize with the Tea Party. They are loyal to Fox News and support a radical restructuring of the government.

These first-wave revolutionaries haven’t softened their conservatism, but they are trying to adjust it to win majority support. They are trying to find policies to boost social mobility, so Republicans look less like the party of the rich. They are swinging behind immigration reform, believing that Hispanics won’t even listen to Republicans until they put that issue in the rearview mirror.

The second-wave revolutionaries — like Rand Paul (on some issues), Jim DeMint, Ted Cruz and some of the cutting-edge talk radio jocks — see the first-wave revolutionaries as a bunch of incompetent establishmentarians. They speak of the Bush-Cheney administration as if it were some sort of liberal Republican regime run by Nelson Rockefeller and Jacob Javits. They argue that Republicans have lost elections recently because the party has been led by big-spending, mushy moderates like John McCain and Mitt Romney and managed by out-of-touch elitists like Karl Rove and Reince Priebus.

The second wavers are much more tactically aggressive, favoring filibusters and such when possible. What the party needs now, they argue, is an ultra-Goldwaterite insurgency that topples the “establishment,” ditches immigration reform and wins Hispanic votes by appealing to the evangelicals among them and offering them economic liberty.

The first and second wavers are just beginning their immigration clash. A few weeks ago, I would have thought the pro-immigration forces had gigantic advantages, but now it is hard to be sure.

The immigration fight will be pitting a cohesive insurgent opposition force against a fragile coalition of bipartisan proponents who have to ambivalently defend a sprawling piece of compromise legislation. We’ve seen this kind of fight before. Things usually don’t end up well for the proponents.

Whether it’s guns or immigration, it is easy to imagine that the underlying political landscape, which prevented progress in the past, has changed. But when you actually try to pass something, you often discover the underlying landscape has not changed. The immigration fight of 2013 might bear an eerie similarity to the fight of 2007.

The arguments that might persuade Republicans to support immigration reform are all on the table. They came on election night 2012. The arguments against are only just now unfolding.

It is just a fact that the big short-term beneficiaries of this law are not generally Republicans: the 11 million who are living in the shadows; the high-tech entrepreneurs who will get more skilled labor. The short-term losers, meanwhile, are often Republicans: the white working-class people who will face a new group of labor-market competition when they try to get jobs in retail; the taxpayers who, at least in the short term, will have to pay some additional costs.

In the past, Republican politicians have had trouble saying no to the latest and most radical insurgency. Even if they know immigration reform is eventually good for their party, lawmakers may figure that opposing it is immediately necessary for themselves.

It would be great if Republicans can hash out their differences over a concrete policy matter, especially immigration, which touches conservatism’s competing values. But if the insurgent right defeats immigration reform, that will be a sign that the party’s self-marginalization will continue. The revolution devours its own.

David Brooks of the NYT on the Republican vs. Republican Problem

Liberals are furious, but the gun issue will not significantly damage the Republican Party. Sure, it looks bad to oppose background checks, which have overwhelming popular support. Sure, the Republican position will further taint the party’s image in places like the suburbs of Philadelphia and Northern Virginia. Sure, the party looks extreme when it can’t accept a bill sponsored by the conservative Senator Joe Manchin and the very conservative Senator Pat Toomey.

Moreover, Democrats never made a compelling case that the bill would have been effective, that it would have directly prevented future Sandy Hooks or lowered the murder rate nationwide. Even many of the bill’s supporters were lukewarm about its contents.

The main reason the gun issue won’t significantly harm Republicans is that it doesn’t play into the core debate that will shape the future of the party. The issue that does that is immigration. The near-term future of American politics will be determined by who wins the immigration debate.

In the months since the election, a rift has opened between the Republicans you might call first-wave revolutionaries and those you might call second-wave revolutionaries. The first-wave revolutionaries (the party’s Congressional leaders) think of themselves as very conservative. They ejected the remaining moderates from their ranks. They sympathize with the Tea Party. They are loyal to Fox News and support a radical restructuring of the government.

These first-wave revolutionaries haven’t softened their conservatism, but they are trying to adjust it to win majority support. They are trying to find policies to boost social mobility, so Republicans look less like the party of the rich. They are swinging behind immigration reform, believing that Hispanics won’t even listen to Republicans until they put that issue in the rearview mirror.

The second-wave revolutionaries — like Rand Paul (on some issues), Jim DeMint, Ted Cruz and some of the cutting-edge talk radio jocks — see the first-wave revolutionaries as a bunch of incompetent establishmentarians. They speak of the Bush-Cheney administration as if it were some sort of liberal Republican regime run by Nelson Rockefeller and Jacob Javits. They argue that Republicans have lost elections recently because the party has been led by big-spending, mushy moderates like John McCain and Mitt Romney and managed by out-of-touch elitists like Karl Rove and Reince Priebus.

The second wavers are much more tactically aggressive, favoring filibusters and such when possible. What the party needs now, they argue, is an ultra-Goldwaterite insurgency that topples the “establishment,” ditches immigration reform and wins Hispanic votes by appealing to the evangelicals among them and offering them economic liberty.

The first and second wavers are just beginning their immigration clash. A few weeks ago, I would have thought the pro-immigration forces had gigantic advantages, but now it is hard to be sure.

The immigration fight will be pitting a cohesive insurgent opposition force against a fragile coalition of bipartisan proponents who have to ambivalently defend a sprawling piece of compromise legislation. We’ve seen this kind of fight before. Things usually don’t end up well for the proponents.

Whether it’s guns or immigration, it is easy to imagine that the underlying political landscape, which prevented progress in the past, has changed. But when you actually try to pass something, you often discover the underlying landscape has not changed. The immigration fight of 2013 might bear an eerie similarity to the fight of 2007.

The arguments that might persuade Republicans to support immigration reform are all on the table. They came on election night 2012. The arguments against are only just now unfolding.

It is just a fact that the big short-term beneficiaries of this law are not generally Republicans: the 11 million who are living in the shadows; the high-tech entrepreneurs who will get more skilled labor. The short-term losers, meanwhile, are often Republicans: the white working-class people who will face a new group of labor-market competition when they try to get jobs in retail; the taxpayers who, at least in the short term, will have to pay some additional costs.

In the past, Republican politicians have had trouble saying no to the latest and most radical insurgency. Even if they know immigration reform is eventually good for their party, lawmakers may figure that opposing it is immediately necessary for themselves.

It would be great if Republicans can hash out their differences over a concrete policy matter, especially immigration, which touches conservatism’s competing values. But if the insurgent right defeats immigration reform, that will be a sign that the party’s self-marginalization will continue. The revolution devours its own.

The Next Frontier in Gun Control is Mental Health

Moms are very resilient. And that’s a good thing given the huge whiff of air being let out of the balloon around gun control. It isn’t just President Barack Obama feeling like he got sucker punched by the U.S. Senate’s vote to consider expanded background checks. Which, according to this article in the New York Times, was just a gesture to begin with.  Click here for the full article http://nyti.ms/13jPSCx. It’s the general sense that something needed to happen but didn’t.  A sense that Moms were fed up and ready to engage to keep their kids safe. And who can blame them for feeling defeated when close to 90% of Americans support expanded background checks for gun shows and online sales and yet, at the end of the day, special interests and lobbyists held more sway than they did. Not even Gabbie Giffords, a gun owner, a second amendment advocate, a public servant who was shot in the head by a deranged voter, could sway the conversation. 

But I would like to say to all of you resilient Moms out there, don’t give up just yet. There is an effort underway that was crafted by a Republican and a Democrat working together. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri and Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan are pushing for better intervention for the mentally ill as a way to curb school shootings and other senseless gun slayings. The two have been looking into access and funding with an eye to identifying the shooters before they explode. The lone wolf who is in pain and whose actions seem to be the result of some sick and twisted – and tragically delayed – cry for help. Their ideas are not without controversy. A sure sticking point will be how to protect patient privacy laws around mental health while identifying and intervening to help the Adam Lanzas and James Holmes’ before they strike.  

Here’s an article worth reading, http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/293941-stabenow-urges-colleagues-to-support-mental-health-amendment

Also worth looking at today are both the President and Sen. Blunt’s recent press announces on gun reform. 

President Obama calls defeat on background checks shameful 

Sen. Blunt pushes better mental health intervention 

 

 

A Gun Owner on Gun Reform

 

Gabby Giffords tells Congress ‘Too many children are dying’ from gun violence

Posted by Joann Weiner on January 30, 2013 at 11:47 pm

 On Dec. 14, 2012, after having already killed his mother, a gunman shot and killed 20 little kids and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. On Dec. 11, 2012, a gunman shot and killed two shoppers and wounded another at the Clackamas Town Center Mall near Portland, Ore.. On Aug. 5, 2012, a gunman shot and killed six worshipers and wounded three others in a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, Wis.  On July 20, 2012, a gunman shot and killed 12 people and wounded 58 others in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. On Jan. 8, 2011, a gunman shot and killed six people and wounded Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 12 others in a grocery store’s parking lot in Tucson, Ariz.

These places — a school, a shopping mall, a temple, a movie theater, and a parking lot — aren’t dangerous places. Yet, these 53 kids, teens, and adults who were merely going about their daily lives found that on that one day, their safe place wasn’t so safe anymore.

Perhaps that’s why — finally — two years after their colleague was shot, the U.S. Congress began to try to do something about gun violence in America. On Jan. 30, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing to ask the question that so many  Americans desperately want answered: “What should America do about gun violence?”

The need to do something about gun violence is imperative. In 2010, 4,097 children and young adults between the ages of 1 and 24 died after being shot by someone else, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In total, 11,078 people died from what the CDC calls an “interpersonal” firearm fatality that year. (It’s often reported thatmore than 30,000 people die in America each year from firearms. Sadly, more than half of those deaths are suicides.)

The experts offered several solutions: conduct more and better background checks for all gun buyers, including those who buy firearms at gun shows, online, and from friends; limit the number of rounds high-capacity devices can shoot before reloading; ban assault weapons; fix the country’s mental-health system; give guns to schoolteachers and station armed guards at schools.

Former astronaut Mark Kelly, whose wife, Gabby Giffords, was shot in the head by a mentally ill young man, wants to make it harder for the mentally ill to purchase guns. “I can’t think of anything that would make our country safer,” Kelly said.

Kelly, a gun-owner himself, said that he and his wife own guns to “defend ourselves, to defend our families, for hunting, and for target shooting.” We’ll “never give up our guns” he said, yet after what happened to his wife, he insists that now is the time to act to reduce gun violence. He and Giffords co-founded Americans for Responsible Solutions to try to do exactly that.

Not everyone agreed that guns are the problem. Wayne LaPierre, head of the National Rifle Association, came to “give voice” to the NRA’s 4.5 million active members. After pointing out that the NRA teaches gun safety and responsibility, he said that rather than banning guns, we should “throw a blanket of security” around our school children and enforce “the thousands of gun laws already on the books.” He insisted that background controls won’t work because “criminals will never submit to them.”

LaPierre doesn’t just oppose background checks. He opposes gun restrictions of any type, including the assault weapons ban that Sen. Diane Feinstein, (D-Calif.), introduced earlier this month. “Gun ownership is a fundamental, God-given right,” LaPierre concluded.

David Kopel, adjunct professor of law at the Denver University College of Law and associate policy analyst at the Cato Institute, generally shared LaPierre’s views. Kopel said that “lawful armed self-defense in the schools, not only by armed guards, but also by teachers” is the only way to stop the violence in schools.

Kopel holds up the state of Utah as a model to emulate. In Utah, adults who pass background checks and complete a safety training class can carry guns — including teachers at schools. For those who worry that teachers might shoot each other or threaten students or that kids might wrestle the guns away from their teachers, Kopel reassured us: “We’ve never had an attack on a Utah school.”

While the experts told us what to do about gun violence, it was former Arizona congresswoman Giffords, who told us why.

“Too many children are dying. Too many children,” Giffords almost whispered, speaking slowly and with difficulty the eight most important words that anyone would utter during the entire four-hour hearing.

Joann Weiner teaches economics at The George Washington University. She has written for Bloomberg, Politics Daily, and Tax Analysts. Follow her on Twitter: @DCEcon.