It was Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania who indicated that there was another, less savory Senate motive for defeating universal background checks for gun purchases last week.
All this time, many of us had assumed that the dogged preservation of the status quo was a simple case of the NRA favoring those who voted its way with campaign donations, and threatening those who dared cross it with the prospect of hordes of single-issue voters emerging from behind their duck blinds to defeat them. It was a Don Corleone-style “offer they couldn’t refuse.”
This assumption broke down when Congress defeated background checks even though more than 90 percent of the electorate favors them—including a majority of the very NRA membership that is supposed to rise up in paranoid rage at the crook of Wayne LaPierre’s manicured index finger.
This time, Toomey said, it was because the Republicans in the Senate didn’t want to be seen as helping Barack Obama achieve a victory. When you think about how much we pay these people to run our country, allowing themselves to descend into this kind of petty, tribal mindset in defiance of what their constituents desire is stupefying, regardless of which party does it to which president.
Obama isn’t even running for reelection, so this makes the Republicans’ spiteful opposition even more despicable. What they were trying to do was deny Obama a trophy for his legacy—as though this vote had nothing to do with the safety and welfare of the citizens who naively expect to be honestly represented by them. The background check vote, which took place in the quiet, carpeted confines of the U.S. Senate chamber, didn’t occur in a vacuum. We aren’t arguing political points here the way sportscasters discuss a basketball score.
These votes have real consequences for real lives, and to indulge in playground rivalries amounts to criminal negligence.
And if we don’t remember this come Election Day, we’ll all be accessories to their crime.
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