Sure, that’s an optimistic question to ask. But following the election, fissures have appeared in the Left’s coalition, and frustration is mounting. Here are a couple of examples. First, an email that MoveOn.org sent out yesterday on gun control. The email is long, so I will excerpt it:
This is the nightmare scenario:
“Reid guts Senate gun control bill.”1
“Tuesday’s developments are a major win for the powerful National Rifle Association.”2
“[Assault weapons] ban’s chances of survival now are all but hopeless.”3
“[A]nother major element of the president’s gun policy proposal could be joining the assault weapons ban in the scrap heap.”4
After months of promises that, in the wake of Newtown, this time would be different, congressional Democrats, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid, are on the verge of caving on the three most critical gun violence prevention proposals: universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons, and a ban on high-capacity magazines.
What’s looking most likely to end up in the final bill? A provision encouraging guns in schools.
No, no, no. MoveOn members and our allies have done so much to make real reform possible—with tens of thousands of phone calls, events, lobby visits, letters, and pleas from victims’ families.
We’ve come too far to let meaningful gun violence prevention measures be killed by the NRA’s backroom lobbying, Republicans’ perpetual threats of filibustering, and Democrats who won’t stand up and fight.
Actually, Republicans haven’t threatened to filibuster, the Democrats can’t even muster a majority in favor of MoveOn’s draconian proposals.
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We’ve already organized hundreds of constituent groups putting high-profile pressure on members of Congress in their home districts and states, run ads featuring anti-NRA gun owners, and poured calls into Congress—but it hasn’t been enough. If we can raise $175,000 today, here’s what we’ll be able to do right away:
And so on. At the state level, while Democrats in New York and Colorado have been able to force through controversial legislation, anti-gun efforts have generally failed. As, for instance, here in Minnesota:
It’s a far cry from the “sea change” Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul, a longtime advocate of universal background checks, felt immediately following the massacre of schoolchildren at Newtown, Conn., in December. Since then:
• The idea of banning certain assault weapons and ammunition magazines drew such vehement opposition that it was immediately dropped.
• Paymar was forced to abandon his universal checks bill in committee Tuesday and agree to extending checks only to private sales at gun shows.
• Language sought by police to give them more discretion in denying gun permits to people with mental health issues and frequent police contacts also was jettisoned.
Firearms can be seen as an exotic issue, not much related to the rest of our political life. In fact, however, the right to keep and bear arms goes to the heart of the relationship between citizen and state–the very point at which conservatives and liberals part company.
As with firearms, so with energy and the environment. Here, too, Democrats may have won the election, but liberals are frustrated at their inability to achieve their long-desired transformation of America. At The Corner, Stanley Kurtz asks, “Are Democrats Tearing Themselves Apart?” He’s talking about energy. You should read it all, but here is the gist:
A growing and rapidly radicalizing climate movement is ever-more at odds with Democrats devoted to traditional economic issues like jobs. The Keystone XL pipeline project is the focus of the fuss, of course, but it doesn’t stop there by a longshot. The political implications of this widening Democratic rift are only just beginning to come into view. …
Only a few weeks ago, opposition to the Keystone pipeline seemed like an outlier position among Democrats. A Washington Post editorial dismissed the battle as a “trumped up” problem and “a counterproductive obsession.” New York Times columnist Joe Nocera went after the Keystone movement’s scientific patron-saint, James Hansen. President Obama himself seemed to be leaning toward approving the pipeline.
None of this has quieted opposition on the left. If anything, public objections to Keystone are becoming increasingly mainstream among Democrats. Tom Friedman said “No to Keystone. Yes to Crazy.” A New York Times editorial endorsed a crusade the Post had labeled a counterproductive obsession a week before. Splits continue to open up among Democrats on this issue. …
Consider the fundamentals. Our economy runs on fossil fuels, yet an ever-growing number of Democrats at the heart of Obama’s base are literally convinced that the world is coming to an end because of it. This rapidly proliferating movement of Democratic voters has a near-religious determination to choke off the fuel that drives America’s economic engine. Each side of the Democratic split apparently sees the other as Dr. Evil…. To understand this is to recognize that the Democrats’ political problem will not disappear after Keystone. It will only get worse.
The fundamental problem, of course, is that while the Democratic Party remains capable of winning elections, America still does not want much of what the Left wants to force upon the rest of us. Watch for frustration to grow as liberals continue to realize how limited their mandate actually is.
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