Sometimes, in the middle of a fight, it’s easy to lose sight of what you are fighting for. It’s very easy to get caught up in the mundane.
As one of the writers contributing to The Bern Report, I admit to spending a great deal of time searching through news sources to see if Bernie Sanders is well represented, looking to see if he has said anything new, looking to see what has been said about him; who said it; whether they said it well enough. There is this poll and that article, and so and so made an anti-Semitic remark. There are endless social media posts that come across my screen. As a writer, that’s what I have to do to stay current, and frankly, after a while, it becomes as much work as anything else. That glowing, flat monitor becomes a mind-numbing opiate, and the mental filters necessary to stay focused act as blinders to the broader picture.
And then the world raises its ugly fist and delivers a roundhouse blow.
Yesterday there was another “mass killing,” this time in Oregon. Nine people were killed before police killed the shooter.
It would be easy to turn this into a diatribe on the senseless tragedy of it all. It is a tragedy. It is senseless. Others have talked about that aspect of it and will continue to do so.
It would be easy to quote all the numbers, to do the comparison that the president asked the media to do between terrorist killings and gun violence deaths. That has been done. You can find it all over the web.
But what strikes me as important right at this moment is how divided public opinion seems to be if you take the comments on social media as an indicator and what the polls tell us the American people actually believe. On the one hand there are those shouting for gun regulation and they seem to be angrier now than at any time in the past. On the other hand there are those shouting for more guns and less regulation and they seem to be just as angry and just as numerous. But we know from scientific polling that the vast majority of people in this country want a solution. They want more regulation in the form of common sense laws.
Senator Sanders is not against gun ownership. He is against people being constantly killed by guns in American society. What sets Sanders apart, in my mind, is that he understands that it isn’t just your views on gun ownership that are important here. What is important is that no matter what you believe about gun ownership, you will be able to change nothing – no matter how many of you there are – unless you solve the underlying problems with the way in which American government is conducted today.
And he understands that electing a new president is only a part of that solution.
So long as the big money behind the NRA and the firearms manufacturing lobbies are influencing congress, you cannot pass needed gun legislation. So long as Citizens United is the law of the land and billionaires are buying elections at the local through the federal level, you simply perpetuate the status quo and the guns stay. So long as the health care system cannot provide enough counseling and medication to those with psychological problems, people will be killed. So long as our media willingly participate in the culture of violence we now have, violence will prevail.
No president can solve all that. Not alone.
Right now a great many people are angry because of yet another needless killing spree. They are angry and they are frustrated.
They are Democrats and they are Republicans and they are Independents. They are black and they are white, and they are Latino and Asian. Their anger crosses all those lines. And they need to be shown that the very best hope of meaningful change in our gun laws is the political revolution which Bernie Sanders is trying to spark across the nation right now. They all have this one very important thing in common. This is a moral issue on which agreement should be easy.
The political revolution Bernie Sanders is calling for is one that changes the entire political landscape from the mayors and the governors to the senators and the representatives. As Sanders said recently, “The shouting at each other must end. The hard work of developing good policy must begin.” But first we have to create a new political environment.
A tragedy like the Umpqua Community College shootings is a wake-up call that reminds me that I stay engaged in this campaign because I believe there is still hope for that fundamental change. There are people all around me who tell me that I’m wrong; I’m backing the wrong guy. I have some pat answers I’ve used in the past.
After yesterday I have a new response. If I can have even a small part in bringing about a shift in the way government works for the people of this country, help solve the ridiculous income inequality that lies at the root of so many problems, and at the same time help prevent your child from being brutally murdered in a classroom, do you really want me to give up?
Educate Your Friends.
Enough is Enough.