Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Will to Act

Over at Style Weekly, a magazine in which I am occasionally published, 'Rick Gray muses on why progressives can't get anything done these days

In the case of background checks, the opposition consists of a small minority of American citizens, perhaps a few million people. But while those opponents make up only a small percentage of voters, they have the advantage of being focused, single-issue voters.

Any incumbent who displays less than total loyalty to their definition of Second Amendment rights can be certain of facing their wrath. They will vote, and raise money, and work assiduously to defeat that incumbent in the next election.

They might be a tiny minority, but they have will. And our senators understand that.

Imagine, for a moment, that there are an equal number of well-organized citizens on the other side. They are absolutely dedicated to eliminating assault-style weapons, or banning large ammo magazines, or imposing mandatory background checks. And willing to do whatever it takes to defeat any senator who refuses to vote their way.

Then we'd have a fair fight.

All true, although I don't know if what we have right now could be classified as an "unfair fight." I think it's a matter of lazy progressives losing to dedicated conservatives. (And don't think I missed Gray's strange qualifier of "their definition" of the Second Amendment, but this isn't a gun post, so I'll ignore it.)

I read this article over lunch today, and later, while digging out pine needles and monkey grass from around boxwoods (and disturbing a yellow jackets' nest, from which I was brutally stung), I had time to reflect on what makes liberal failure these days. The answer seemed fairly clear after I thought about it. Progressives are usually lazier than their right-wing counterparts, I believe, because they are often convinced of the self-evident flawlessness and rightness of their own beliefs, and they think this self-evidence should translate into automatic wins at the ballot box and in Congress. Thus they don't try very hard. How many times have you heard a lefty smugly congratulate himself for aligning his political sentiments with "science" or "facts" or "common sense?" The prog political mindset seems not to be merely one of beliefs, but of lab-tested certainty. So they think they'll just win on gun control or climate change in the same way that the speed of light is a mathematical certainty. Except they often don't win. Hilarity ensues.

Conservatives, to be fair, are usually equally convinced of the correctness of their own politics---but they know you actually have to work to translate it into hard reality. It's why the Tea Party revolution resulted in a Tea Party sweep during the 2010 elections, and why Occupy Wall Street was a useless, pointless group therapy meeting for angry socialists that quickly dissolved into hopeless obscurity. Liberals often resort to drum circles; conservatives, whatever the merits of their message may be, know that that just isn't enough.

"Real-world politics takes very little account of facile gestures," Gray writes. "It demands commitment." That's spot-on. Of course, as a disaffected, anti-government nutjob gun-lunatic free banking weirdo, I myself am loathe to expend any commitment on "real-world politics." But Gray gets it right, at least for those who think the political system is still one in which genuine progress can be made. So take note, liberals: your swaggering self-certainty is a farce. That is a "fact."

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