A Crisis of Guns = A Crisis of Democratic Governance
Plus: More strategic incoherence on Ukraine?
If you managed to check-out for the last three days, you’ll find that things are pretty much the same as when you left them.
Kevin McCarthy is still engaging in a cover-up of January 6.
The NRA is still prioritizing the culture war and conspiracy theories over human lives.
The White House is still walking back Joe Biden’s comments.
Marjorie Taylor Greene is still spinning bat shit crazy theories about government surveillance of your cheeseburger eating/bowel movement habits.
And we are still wondering about our democracy’s ability to engage in effective self-governance.
Does democracy work anymore?
I spent much of the weekend listening to the chatter from the cool kids’ table about the hopelessness of confronting mass carnage.
The “realist” position insists that the problem is insoluble. There are too many guns, and too much entrenched opposition. Failure is not just an option. It’s inevitable.
But we have a long track record of solving massive and intractable problems, from the eradication of polio to landing on the moon. (Airplanes are no longer regularly hijacked.)
So what this litany of hopelessness really means is that nothing can be done to prevent mass murders under our current democratic system. Despite the horror, shock and grief, even broadly popular, common sense measures (background checks, age limits, red flag laws) have little or no chance of success in Congress.
At bottom, though, this isn’t just about guns; it is also about the crisis of democratic governance.
Because if we genuinely cannot solve this problem, it raises more fundamental questions about democracy’s ability to get things done. A system that cannot keep its children safe, or prevent a million deaths from a pandemic, is a system in crisis, perhaps in terminal decline.
Unfortunately, there are alternatives to democracy, and we are not alone in having these sorts of doubts. A new study of public opinion across nine countries finds growing uneasiness about the state of democracy.