Perhaps I don’t do this as much as I should, but in perusing the overall navel-gazing we in the conservative movement have undertaken since November’s losses I wonder how many have stepped back and looked at the big picture. Why, we cry, did so many vote for Barack Obama and the Democrats?
More and more I hear the phrase “low-information voter” bandied about. It goes without saying that, with the rare exception of a Presidential debate, the audience for any random episode of “American Idol” or “The Bachelor” is many times greater than the one for any single news or public affairs program. In truth, that’s nothing new because documentaries have been seen as necessary evils on major networks for years – that’s why you rarely see them on network television anymore. Once upon a time, television was thought of as an educational medium and weekends were devoted to highbrow programming rather than sports. But that went away decades ago and now the NFL, NASCAR, and golf are the primary triumvirate of weekend television viewing.
Yet with the more recent “bread and circuses” approach to American life and the shortened attention span most of us have – what was I talking about again? Oh, yeah – politics seems to be out of sight and out of mind to most unless there is a crisis manufactured for public consumption by either current events, the media, or both, with the simpler the explanation the better. Witness the sudden emergence of gun control as an important crisis after the Sandy Hook massacre; not only did it bring an issue to the forefront where emotions could be easily manipulated to bring out the desired political movement, but it also served as yet another distraction to economic and national security issues which are less exciting to discuss but very important to our everyday lives. The odds of a child being mowed down in a Sandy Hook-style assault are still very remote, but the risk to our economy stemming from dangerous financial choices? Almost a certainty, but a certainty not easily broken down to the level of a soundbite.
Unfortunately, people aren’t naturally disposed to look beyond the superficial, day-to-day routine of life. I admit that there are times when I wouldn’t mind just chucking it all and allowing someone else to take the load off my shoulders. We’ve heard the stories before about those who finagle the system to collect disability payments or otherwise transfer wealth from those who work to their own coffers. But instead of descending to their level, there are some of us who would rather work to give a hand up rather than a handout. I am certainly not a wealthy man and I’m not too proud to accept the donations which occasionally come my way thanks to my work here, but what I make I earn and I sleep well enough at night because of that.
There are still enough of us who care to make a difference, but the way we interact with people has to change. Yes, I’m quite aware that insofar as marketing goes I can exist in a nice little niche of the choir I generally speak to and scratch out somewhat of a living, but my job isn’t one of sitting within this comfort zone. Besides the obvious of trying to feed the family and keep a roof over our heads, my job, as I see it first and foremost, is to be an educator whether through my journalism or being what some call an “opinion leader.”
If you read my book you would see that I have a lot of ideas, and I try to briefly explain my rationale for thinking as I do. But I understand that not everyone can or will buy the tome, nor can they carry it wherever they go. So I have to go beyond the pages and take what it says to heart in an effort to bring people to our side. The problem is that I don’t react to things on the same emotional level that many other people do, and it’s more of a struggle when you put logic up against emotion. Using Sandy Hook as an example, the knee-jerk reaction of banning “assault weapons” doesn’t take a number of things into account:
- The moment the Sandy Hook shooter stole his mother’s (legally owned) guns – including handguns – he broke the law. Criminals, by definition, don’t follow laws.
- Several of the features which make a rifle appear to be an “assault weapon” are simply cosmetic or for convenience, like a pistol grip for better control of the weapon. A truly automatic, military-style weapon is rarely seen on the streets and wasn’t used at Sandy Hook, either.
- As a practical matter, how does a blanket ban affect someone who is in law enforcement? Let’s say they have a “banned” weapon for work – do they have to leave it there when they go home?
- What about those who already own these blacklisted weapons – will they be compensated at market value for the loss of their property? I’m not holding my breath.
- Finally, there is this thing called the Second Amendment. It’s not about hunting, the National Guard, or self-defense on more than a peripheral level. It’s more about self-defense of liberty. Maybe one out of ten million gun owners would feel justified in taking the law into their own hands and playing the vigilante. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it is highly unlikely.
The reason I called this piece “Erosion” is that we are watching a slow-motion weathering away of the rights we should consider inalienable rights. Too many equate the bounties of our standard of living to our “rights,” believing we are owed a living and the “freedom” to veg out and watch “The Big Bang Theory” just on account of being an American.
These are the folks who ask: four people were murdered at an American consulate in Benghazi? What difference does it make? That’s over in Libya, where that crazy guy we bombed awhile back runs the show…oh, he died? Why are we messing around with those camel jockeys anyway? The answers are there, but the desire to find out the real story doesn’t seem to exist within most Americans.
And if I had that answer, I would be running a website with 15-20 million viewers per week (like “American Idol”) instead of one which barely scrapes by with a couple thousand. If I’m preaching to a small choir, the lesson I want to impart is one of spreading the word above and beyond what this website directly reaches. Let’s be teachers as well as advocates.