You know why people don’t like liberals? Cause they lose. If liberals are so fucking smart how come they lose so God-Damned Always? – Will McAvoy, The Newsroom
By now, anyone who is internet savvy enough to read this blog has already seen the opening scene of The Newsroom. You’ve watched with glee as Aaron Sorkin’s always-sharp pen destroys the concept that America is the greatest country in the world. McAvoy runs rampant at both sides of the political system, and effectively dismantles and patriotic jingoism anyone that may be watching has.
But this line is buried, kind of at the top of the rant, and it’s the line we need to be paying more attention to. If liberals are so fucking smart, how come they lose so God-Damned Always?
Well, we’ve seen some examples. The Bernie-or-Busters have given us a fantastic repeat of the Nader supporters showing us what it was like to eat our own. But not even that is the real issue.
No, the real issue comes with things like our response to mass shootings.
Let me throw out some data points for you, people:
1. The Constitution must be amended, or the Supreme Court must change its interpretation of the Second Amendment, for the guns to get taken away.
Please don’t respond to this post telling me all the good reasons (or the bad ones) for gun control. Gun control is a losing issue for us. The Constitution is basically the stopgap, the thing that makes it an issue we can scream and rant about all day, but not do anything about. That can be a good thing for us, too, by the way – that’s the thing making gay marriage and abortions legal, after all. But it can put a stop to our reforms.
Put mildly, gun control is a loser. Every time we gear up for a fight about guns and gun control, we lose. And we look more and more silly each time.
2. The political response to mass shootings is beginning to get predictable. Which means entrenched. Which means bad.
We have hit a point in our country that I never, ever wanted us to hit, but it’s time to admit that we’re there.
Stalin once said “One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic.” That’s gruesome, and horrible, and not entirely wrong. We’ve now had so many mass shootings in this country that everyone who pays attention to the news cycles at all already knows what comes next.
Step One, mass shooting. Step Two, hopes and prayers. Step Three, Liberals talk about guns and conservatives talk about mental health. Step Four, nothing gets done and we all get distracted because Kanye did something outrageous and there’s a video of it up on YouTube.
3. These two factors mean that no mass shooting will result in gun control laws.
With each successive mass shooting, the shock value gets less and less, which means the political motivation to do things gets less and less. Orlando was horrible. In a week, we won’t be talking about it. All the politicians have to do is talk for a week, then change the subject. That’s it.
It is to the advantage of politicians to keep issues alive. Doing something is not as important as having an opinion on something. If there’s an issue you don’t have resolution on, then you are more likely to vote for the person who espouses your opinion. Democractic politicians know point #1 damned well; they’re never going to make the kind of gun laws we need because they can’t.
But they can talk about how much we need them and rack up massive points with the base without ever actually doing anything. Because doing something means fixing a problem, and that problem is giving you far more votes than fixing it would, even were fixing it possible.
4. The mental health system in this country is a shambles.
It really is. We’re terribly underfunded, and there’s a constant use of the criminal justice system to provide mental health services. Mental health is a real issue, it’s a healthcare issue, it’s a progressive issue.
Will doing something about mental health stop mass shootings? Almost certainly not.
But it will help a massive segment of the population that’s struggling right now.
5. Republicans tend to be the ones holding back our mental health systems.
All the issues with our mental health system? Almost all of them exist because a Republican doesn’t want to spend money on crazy people. So our mentally ill are suffering in order to get more military spending and more tax breaks for the wealthy.
6. Republicans could be forced to eat mental health reforms in the wake of a mass shooting.
Mental Health is the Republican go-to explanation why shootings happen. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people; we have heard that mantra. And (according to them) the mentally ill are to blame for these shootings, not the fact that you can walk into any Wal-Mart and pick yourself up an assault rifle.
Now, the Democrat’s response to this is to call it out for being bollocks. And that’s a fair response, because it is mostly bollocks. But it isn’t a smart response. Because as soon as the Republicans start sounding off about mental health, we have an opportunity. A golden opportunity. Get the Republicans on board to fix a mental health system in order to save the guns that nobody was taking anyways!
7. There will be another mass shooting
We’re getting them pretty quick, nowadays. There will be another one. We’re not implementing gun control (see above). Institute your mental health reforms. Put as much towards mental health reforms as you can, because (1) you actually have an opportunity to get things done, and (2) you are letting the Republicans walk far, far out on a limb. Mental health money should have stopped mass shootings, right? Well, it didn’t. There’s some more corpses.
By agreeing to work with Republicans on mental health funding, you play their hand against them. Either they give us a lot of money to deal with mental health, or they publicly destroy their own argument vis-a-vis these shootings. As there is going to be another shooting later anyways, we can go after them on guns after we’ve used their money to deal with an issue we want dealt with, and simultaneously shown that their way doesn’t work. We win, twice.
But, sadly, we’re not doing it. We’re not going to take this maneuver; we’re just going to rant and rave about gun control. And nothing will be done, because nobody wants to do anything about it other than talk.
We can’t prevent the next mass shooting. We may be able to prevent the one after that if we played the politics perfectly. But we won’t, because we’re liberals, and we lose so goddamned always.