If you watch Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe, he represents the side of the gun control debate that is all about lofty goals, pie in the sky and the belief that passion will win out over reason and rationality.
For the last six years, Joe has attempted to convince himself and his audience that Congress is “this close” to getting comprehensive gun control legislation passed. He said the same after the March For Our Lives protest, claiming anybody who took the opposite approach to what these kids wanted
Joe is out there saying, “These kids are energized! They’re going to register to vote, and they’re going to vote!” (For the record, I am paraphrasing what Scarborough said).
How many times have we heard this kind of claptrap? The 18-24 voting bloc is always on the cusp of “changing the world.” Poppycock. The Vietnam War era youth who staged massive protests against the war and who were about to advance the cause of liberalism for all the world to see, watched as Richard Nixon won a landslide re-election in 1972.
Then, thanks only to the Watergate scandal, a Democrat held the White House for four tumultuous years before Ronald Reagan led a conservative revolution for the next eight years. Baby-boomers had more to do with the victories of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama than did the youth vote.
Not much will change after the March for Our Lives. And while it’s admirable to see younger Americans engaged in activism, it doesn’t change the reality that people do not have gun control high up on their list of priorities. Sure, gun control polls well. People like Scarborough cannot repeat enough times that universal background checks have 90 percent support among Americans.
In fact, there is a Fox News poll out that shows pretty broad support for gun control legislation:
People latch on to these poll results and shout, “You see? People in Congress had better pay attention!”
It looks bad. However, it doesn’t translate into voter urgency. As I said, it is not high on the list of voter priorities (such as the economy and healthcare) and therefore, people are not necessarily motivated to run out and vote against the politician (typically, a Republican) who don’t support these measures or votes against them. Time and time again we have witnessed the folly of people assuming that a poll result translates into actionable steps and they don’t.
Here is another poll result that rings very true:
It’s difficult to argue with these results. People move on. The news that is the hottest item of the day makes it way down the page on newspapers and websites. Look at CNN. As of the writing of this post, the focus of CNN’s front page is news about Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal’s joint allegations of an affair with President Trump.
When nothing happens beyond the small, but not insignificant, gun laws that made its way into the omnibus spending package, people will claim they’re outraged. They will be outraged until the next outrage hits the front page.
The difference between the voters who Joe Scarborough talks about and voters who believe firmly in second amendment rights comes down to action, not passion. Those are the people who go out and vote. They are the people who make calls and write letters to their representatives. They are the people who organize and encourage their friends and neighbors to vote.
People can blame the NRA all they want. It’s the NRA that chooses to reject gun grabbing legislation.
It’s the people.