As each new year approaches, all of us traditionally hope for a better time than the past year provided us. But this year, that hope for the first time in my 65 year old memory, is tempered for many of us by recent events which limit our expectations in a way that makes them seem at best uncertain and at worst, not equal to or less than what they have been in the past. Indeed, the combination of the prospect of the falling off the fiscal cliff and the seeming inability of our leaders to sensibly avoid it until the last minute, if at all, coupled with the senseless slaughter of innocent children and their protectors in Newtown, Connecticut casts a bit of melancholy over the celebration of the advent of the new year.
With that in mind and with I hope the proper degree of humility, as well as a recognition that our hopes and dreams should not be born out of naiveté or unrealistic expectations for the human race and more particularly those who are elected and/or appointed to lead us in this country and in the world, I offer the following suggested “2013 New Year’s Resolutions for Politicians and Policy Makers”.
It is with the world as they may wish it to be. Implementing this Resolution would eliminate many so-called impediments to the enforcement of existing sensible gun control laws, as well as the legislating of a few more such as an Assault Weapon Ban. It would also eliminate the silliness or insanity of passing legislation legalizing and thereby encouraging the carrying of concealed firearms in churches, schools, parks, movie theaters and other public places by untrained civilians. It would also sensibly ban the maintenance in our homes, cars and businesses of military arsenals, including assault weapons, clips of more than ten rounds of ammunition, as well as ammunition such as armor-piercing bullets that could not possibly serve any purpose other than the destruction of innocent lives, of law enforcement personnel and others. I am not sure Politicians and Policy-Makers should resolve not to confuse the world as which is worse – the silly or dumb politician who sincerely believes that untrained civilians shooting at each other even in self-defense in a crowded school or theater or other public forum is a good idea or the one who cynically advocates such nonsense for political gain. In any case, as conservative columnist Michael Gerson has said, “the first necessary response to the unacceptable is not to accept it”.
An action on the basis of anything resembling a “domino theory”. A domino theory essentially suggests that government should or should not take an otherwise sensible action because it will inevitably like falling dominoes lead to a nonsensical action. For example, the notion that we should not enact and enforce sensible gun regulations because it will inevitably lead, to confiscation of all firearms and the end of hunting and the rights of hunters. There is no evidence whatsoever to support this opinion which is largely confined to the unreal world of right-wing talk show hosts and other conspiracy oriented talking heads. Just a short footnote this country escalated it’s involvement in The Vietnam War which we all now regret based on the now totally discredited domino theory that if Vietnam fell, all of Southeast Asia would be taken over by communists. I cannot think of a single instance in history where a domino theory was reality based. Politicians should resolve to never justify either advocacy or opposition to
(3) Action because it would not have prevented a specific killing or another one. The real-world goal should be to reduce the overall risk of violence. Because no public policy or law can totally eliminate incidents of violence is not an argument to do nothing. Complexity does not dictate public policy paralysis. Not only our statutory scheme of gun regulation, but also our mental health system needs attention, reform and resources. Politicians should resolve to never oppose any executive or legislative “Talking Points” developed by individuals, organizations and even agencies of government who have an agenda of their own. I am sure that Ambassador Susan Rice will in retrospect agree with and indeed in the future enthusiastically endorse and implement this Resolution as will, I hope the elected officials who have heretofore Politicians and Policy-Makers should resolve to never rely solely on slavishly adhered to the NRA Line and mindlessly mouthed their Talking Points.
We just buried 20 innocent children and eight heroic adults who tried to protected them from a deranged mass murderer. Anyone whose response to this is to lament that we are powerless to prevent future incidents like this or for that matter to prevent kids from being caught in the crossfire of gang warfare on our streets has surrendered their faith in justice to the forces of evil and given up when they should have resolved to reaffirm their faith in the human race by recognizing that the implementation of ideas has both positive and negative consequences. Doing nothing is an idea which can have either positive or negative consequences. A politician’s responsibility is first and foremost to understand those consequences and prevent them from doing harm. Lets all resolve to hold our leaders accountable in 2013 if they do not discharge this primary responsibility.
In the meantime, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and a happy and fulfilling New Year to all.