DALLAS, March 14th, 2013 – A record number of Americans are tiring of our antiquated two-party system, but the left vs. right paradigm thrives. Hot button issues are seasonally thrust into the American political arena, dividing and distracting us from looming national crises.
An expanding subset of voters grasp that facing national challenges requires political evolution and trans-partisanship. They express frustration with the status quo established by yesterday’s ideological salesmen. Many wonder how fruitful dialogue is ritualistically handicapped by bickering and demagoguery.
The genuinely curious can look no further than a well-written but misleading Huffington Post article titled, “Disarming Republican Anarchists” by contributor Bob Burnett.
The right-wing is equally guilty of fear-mongering as the left, but this piece demonstrates why fruitful communication between both camps stagnates.
In the article, the author buttresses the left’s gun control argument with bad rhetoric and bizarre conspiracy theories about Republican inner-party politics. Burnett claims Washington cannot muster the will to restrict firearm ownership because the GOP is occupied by selfish, crazed insurrectionists. These “far right” lunatics are choking common sense gun control legislation.
He writes, “As University of California linguistics professor George Lakoff observed, “[ultra conservatives] believe that Democracy gives them the liberty to seek their own self-interests by exercising personal responsibility, without having responsibility for anyone else or anyone else having responsibility for them.” Republican anarchists reject the founders’ morality, the sentiments that produced the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution.
These ultra-conservatives don’t believe in the common good or the notion that Americans have a moral responsibility to care for each other. But they do venerate the second amendment to the Constitution, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”
The conflation of academic terms and offensive distortions of gun rights supporters can be forgiven, but Burnett’s tangling of opposing ideologies and misrepresentation of political realities must be addressed.
The term ‘Republican anarchist’ is an oxymoron. An individual adhering to Murray Rothbard and F.A. Hayek’s belief in peaceful states without rulers, untethered markets and maximum liberty loathes the concept of party affiliation. Party politics is a fool’s game. Many modern anarchists and voluntaryists disavow the political process entirely.
For generations, the GOP ruling class has been dominated by social conservatives and neoconservatives. These authoritarians with moral intentions dismiss the non-aggression principle. They depend on the government’s coercive power to impose their agenda on other free people. Decades of an unprincipled, inconsistent platform devoid of long-term strategy has cost the party dearly.
But the lockstep hegemony that has redefined conservatism for so long is losing ground to an emerging third faction. Libertarians and moderates have gained influence in recent years not by rejecting the Founders’ political values, but by embracing them.
The United States is not a democracy, but a constitutional republic. America’s philosophical tradition established that the purpose of government is to protect citizen’s rights. The Constitution restricts federal authority and adherence to its rules is required for public office. Legitimate government is only justified by consent of the governed. Those are the words of Thomas Jefferson.
The Republican Party of today disavowed these founding principles to usher in eras of big government, perpetual war and corporate favoritism largely continued under Barack Obama.
A truly conservative party would not pursue endless aggressive militarism, destroy due process, dissolve the rule of law, reject fiscal solvency, or assault individual liberties. They would not sacrifice the right to trial, curtail peaceful protest or sanction invasive search and seizure.
The Republican Party has not moved to the “right”, but toward the “left” by drastically expanding government power and authoritarianism at the expense of liberty. The classical liberalism of our Founders is not embraced by social conservatives, neoconservatives or fictional “Republican anarchists”, but by the libertarian-moderate wing.
The old guard is out of touch and increasingly irrelevant in a changing age. The young and old are shifting toward the principles of liberty and economic freedom, not toward the “Tea Party” conservatism of 5 years ago. This grass-roots evolution is hardly aware of fringe “sovereign citizen” groups, anti-state militias or “patriot” insurgents Burnett claims wield such tremendous power.
Americans are falling in love with their rights again. Such curiosity and excitement should be applauded, not assaulted. This call for constitutional government is not anarcho-capitalism by any stretch, and efforts to marginalize this momentum before it bears fruit are intellectually dishonest.
As Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) successful 13-hour filibuster demonstrated, those positioning themselves as protectors of civil liberties, proponents of constitutional law and advocates for transparent government, benefit from this gradual enlightenment.
Conservatives, libertarians, moderates and classical liberals are cautiously optimistic that a new era of individualism and freedom awaits and are supporting candidates accordingly. They are speaking out, involving themselves in the political process and taking an interest in their future. When did peaceful activism become dangerous?
Bob Burnett portrays Republican zealots as radicals seized by fear, but the GOP only lacks the gun control will because the American people are watching. The Second Amendment should not be subjected to Washington’s habitual abortion of reason and blasé regard for civil liberties.
The Second Amendment is not “rhetorical”. The right to bear arms protects the right to self-defense against foreign and domestic individual and organized aggressors. Law-abiding Americans should have the optimal means of doing so with common guns. This is not a grant to the people, but a restriction on the federal government.
This cornerstone principle of the American experiment is critical to maintaining life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is the responsibility of every American to maintain societal protections against the possibility of future tyranny, whether they enjoy the recreation of firearms or not.
Compromise on gun show loopholes is possible, but limiting cosmetic features for popular firearms used in .20% of crimes without proving crime reduction is likely, is not “common sense”. Legislating Second Amendment rights for some classes of Americans, but not others is discrimination. Infringing on the rights of free, lawful citizens to own buy, sell or trade common weapons without producing ample empirical evidence or clear mechanical justification is anti-ethical to everything this nation represents.
Citing obsolete, easily refuted studies that fail to delineate self-defensive firearm use, accidental discharges, law enforcement discharges, or gang violence from malicious assault by firearm do not responsibly add to this important debate. American crime is in decline for the fifth straight year. Twisting statistics and abusing language to exaggerate threats and assault vocal gun owners will not facilitate reasonable discussion, if that is the intention.
Mass killings are not the price we must pay for living in a free society. Gun violence is not a partisan issue, but an American issue. If reform is necessary, we should analyze with civility and patience the data, diverse opinions, our unique gun culture and the role firearms play in promoting safety.
Are gun dealers properly regulated? Are reporting methods for psychological professionals adequate? Do gun show loopholes help criminals? Should states encourage responsible gun ownership with tax-breaks for carrying concealed? Are current laws disarming upstanding citizens? Are anti-psychotic medications linked to mass shootings? Would welcoming concealed-carry holders deter crime in local businesses?
With liberty comes great responsibility and social evolution is hampered when “sides” insist on declaring a monopoly on moral righteousness. We need responsible national discussions, not intellectual elitism and arrogance. Demagogues appealing to prejudices and fears with petty partisanship do not belong in this conversation.
The voters of tomorrow grow weary of distortions and baseless hysteria ideological dinosaurs peddle to control the dialogue. We must challenge ourselves to rationally and reasonably evaluate opposing viewpoints as evolved, rational people. We must promote responsible, peaceful activism through the political process, not ridicule it. We must demand our legislators do the same.
For the future’s sake, let us set our differences aside and rise to the challenge.
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