The tragedy of Colorado…
Events in Colorado deserve to be called tragic because they are, however, what defines a tragedy being as such is not the fact of it being merely a sad occurrence but the absolute inevitability of its occurrence. It is inevitable in a society in which blinkered people stubbornly cling to their so-called ‘liberty’ to bear arms that those weapons will fall into the wrong hands and that massacres of this nature will occur (fairly frequently, as they do in America) alongside higher incidences of homicide and violent crime. Americans who are supportive of the right to bear arms need to be asked an honest question, is this really a price worth paying, because it is the price tag that their ‘freedom’ comes with. If it is then fair enough, they have made their choice and have no right to weep crocodile tears when events like this weeks occur. If it isn’t they need to stop dressing selfish pride up in ragged democratic clothing and switch sides to join with those who favour tougher regulation on firearms sales and a sweeping constitutional amendment to a document that is stupidly out of date and out of step with the modern world. Something tells me that creating a country where 85 people die a day from gun related crime a day is quite what the founding fathers had in mind.
Sadly, this is the last thing you will hear President Obama say and that is not only because it is slightly impolitic to criticise your constituency. The National Rifle Association is deeply embedded in the fabric of the American body politic and grafts its cultural history into its make-up, calling itself somewhat laughably America’s “oldest civil rights movement”. The NRA’s mantra that guns don’t kill people but people do has a ring of truth until you add the obvious caveat; its much easier for people to kill people when your society is awash with legally available guns. Problems with knives pale by comparison, for example, it is hard to kill somebody at distance with a knife unless you happen to be particularly skilled at throwing them. People will always kill people and the determined will always find a way no matter the barriers that the state puts in their way, however, that is not an excuse for making their job easier. In the case of the Colorado shootings it seems to be have been a matter of staggering ease for the suspect to amass a small arsenal of deadly weapons entirely legally and when that is the case something most definitely is wrong.
As soon as I tweeted about this, the predictable response came back, that it would be “electoral suicide” for Obama to attempt to take on the NRA. Of course, this is entirely true and the realpolitik arguments, on their own terms, have considerable merit, however, they are still ultimately wrong on the higher ground where politicians should do what they feel and know to be right and very much let the electoral consequences be damned. The fact that politicians don’t, and this is as applicable here as it is in Britain where the political class continues to cower cravenly in fear of say, the City’s wrath is one of the main reasons, just as people are dying for democracy in countries like Syria, in the West, its electoral form at least, it is decaying and dying a slow but inevitable death. A death that will no doubt be regarded by the general populace with a collective shrug of the shoulders. People no longer see their choice of representatives as being relevant because they know that whoever they choose, things will carry on much the same and it is the powerful and monied vested interests of the few which will continue to call the shots. So, while they struggle on, increasingly alienated from democracy as it is served to them, democracy dies on its ass.
This is why we need a new breed of politician and ultimately we need root-and-branch, top-to-toe changes to our democracy to revitalise it and increase its relevancy. If this doesn’t happen then the will of the people, the distance of people from their own governments will become a yawning chase which no amount of rhetorical nods to democracy can cross and democracy as we know it will fade and die to be replaced with something a far lot worse and that will be a tragedy that doesn’t just happen on our TV screens but one that will engulf us all.