Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The American Revolutions

Listening to the gunfire from up the road I thought about the Second Amendment fundamentalists, and how they like to talk about standing up to the government and criminals and powers of repression with their trusty shootin' irons. And I realized that we have had numerous revolutions in this country since the wars that severed us from Great Britain, and in all but one of them the winning side was mostly unarmed.

The Civil War was the one real armed conflict in America's evolution over a difference of political philosophy. All it really settled was the issue of that particular instance of secession and the legality of slavery. Slavery is a big issue, but obviously the underclass of former slaves endured many more years of harsh oppression after it was no longer legal to own them outright.

Just skimming history you can't overlook the labor movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, women's suffrage, and the civil rights  and anti war movements of the 1960s. These were politically effective revolutionary acts carried out largely without the use of force by the advocates of greater freedom. Armed conflict would never have yielded as satisfactory a result. Nor will it help in reestablishing civil rights and labor's power now.

A brutal dictator will not respect nonviolent protest. But we don't have a brutal dictator right now, and we can avoid having one at all if we get back to the individual liberties that matter and quit cranking up so much tension about the hypothetical necessity to shoot our way out of a situation. If it comes to that, every responsible adult, particularly weapon-owning ones, will have failed miserably going into the disagreement by letting the discussion get dragged into such unproductive territory that we have no recourse but to start shooting each other. And I guarantee if guns are outlawed and suddenly we need to have them to fight off our own government, freedom fighters will find them. We've seized arsenals before. We can do it again. Quit freaking out.

If society collapses and we need to establish our own personal forts, again we have no one to blame but our stupid selves. It may seem glorious in fantasy, but it will be nasty, brutish and short in reality.

The whole Second Amendment thing doesn't seem like the biggest issue in this election. The gunfire brought it to mind, and the "us or them" mentality in political discourse. After this election we will either have a Democratic majority in Congress, in which case the surviving Republicans will simply obstruct everything they can, or we will have a Republican majority, in which case they will enact whatever they think is a good idea. But if they're smart they won't do anything to make things much better for the common folk before 2016, because they can't risk making a Democratic president look good. So no matter what we have a tough couple of years ahead. Then we get to endure another expensive and nasty campaign starting in 2015.

Or people will get their heads out of their lower crevices and realize that we're all in this together, so we'd better start talking about how things really work instead of inflating scary monsters like Socialism and Fascism and kite fighting with them.

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