Bipartisanship is Killing Us

We’ve lost the middle ground. Whether discussing the economy, guns, abortion, or religion, too many people—especially our politicians—take one side and treat it as an absolute. Their way is the only way, and the media drives the wedge in deeper by encouraging the rest of us to choose sides.

This has to stop.

What was more painful about Romney’s now-infamous 47% statement: his gall to state it in such a demeaning manner, or the fact that it hit home so hard? The zombie-like devotion to one side or the other has disgusted me for a long time, and it’s been rubbed in our faces more and more during the last few elections.

When all we do is choose sides and shout at one another, nothing gets done. The refusal to sit down and discuss both sides of an issue to find a reasonable solution is beyond counter-productive, it’s damn near political sabotage.

The shocking violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT yesterday is the most recent in a string of mass violence that we’ve been faced with in recent years. I work in a school district, and we have a K-4 building. Every day I watch those children file out of the building while waiting for my own kids. Sandy Hook is as horrific as it gets.

The moment the news hit, the gun comments started on Twitter and Facebook. “Great, now we’re going to have people trying to ban guns again! You can’t take away my Constitutional right!” Fuck you. “See, we told you guns were evil! Ban them now!” Fuck you, too.

I’m a gun owner. I live in a community of hunters. Yesterday I received a Christmas card that included a photo of a 3rd grader holding a hunting rifle with a scope. Guns do not signify evil to everyone, and there are families who bond in activities involving guns, just as mine did with target shooting.

However, I also do not support the NRA (more on that in a moment). I have an Illinois-issued Firearms Owner ID card, and I don’t look at it as a grave infringement of my rights (in fact, it’s laughably easy to obtain). I do think waiting periods are ridiculous and ineffective, but again, I don’t view them as some tremendous violation of my rights. I support concealed carry, but I don’t believe guns and carry permits should be issued to everyone who wants one.  I don’t even fear gun registration, and I’d be willing to discuss registration as a part of concealed carry.

The NRA causes as many problems as it solves. They do a great job of supporting families who are gun owners, of supporting hunters, and of pointing out the many instances were firearms were used in defense of life. However, they do a shit job of doing anything to prevent  guns from getting into the hands of the wrong people. Take the Operation Fast & Furious scandal, for example: Fast & Furious was hampered at least as much by poor legislative support than it was the incompetence and in-fighting of federal agents.

The NRA should be front-and-center helping create solutions, not entrenching itself with the tired old “out of my cold, dead hands” statement.

This is why, even as a gun owner, I signed the White House petition to immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress. I’m not sure I could have stated it any clearer than this:

The goal of this petition is to force the Obama Administration to produce legislation that limits access to guns. While a national dialogue is critical, laws are the only means in which we can reduce the number of people murdered in gun related deaths.

Powerful lobbying groups allow the ownership of guns to reach beyond the Constitution’s intended purpose of the right to bear arms. Therefore, Congress must act on what is stated law, and face the reality that access to firearms reaches beyond what the Second Amendment intends to achieve.

The signatures on this petition represent a collective demand for a bipartisan discussion resulting in a set of laws that regulates how a citizen obtains a gun.

I just hope our congressmen have the balls to find the middle ground and are willing to keep extreme lobby groups like the Brady Center and the NRA from sabotaging real progress.

If past behavior is any indicator, nothing will change, and before long we’ll have another incident like Sandy Hook or Aurora and the discussion fight will start all over. Then die down again. And again, nothing will get done.

Remember the definition of insanity, folks? I give you the United States bipartisan political system.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

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