Short answer: No, we do not shoot them. But the argument that we don’t shoot them is not as simple as it seems.
Rand Paul: Shoot the CongressmanRight Wing: The purpose of the 2nd Amendment is to allow us to be armed, so we can shoot at the government when we need to. (This section has been heavily modified at the request of Senator Paul)
The purpose of the second amendment, and the reason to stay heavily armed and to be prepared to use the firearms the Constitution guarantees we can keep, is to lift tyranny should it befall the land. An increasing number of people now realize that a president that does not have any interest in following the law or just tradition, and who has absurd and harmful wants he insists be realized by fiat, is a tyrant. Donald Trump is a tyrant. Perhaps you would like to wait to call him a tyrant until he does a certain number of tyrannical things, but that is kind of silly because it takes time for a tyrant to build up a strong resume. Trump applied for the job of tyrant, promising tyranny, was hired to do that, has shown that he is capable of it, and has failed to put many notches in his tyrant’s belt only because he has been successfully fought on several fronts, not because he is not really a tyrant.
Rand Paul has an excellent understanding, aside from one detail, of the use of armed force in resisting tyranny, and according to him, given that Trump is a Tyrant, people should start shooting. The following tweet has been passed around as an example of right wing thinking (or, in this case, Libertarian thinking, which is not exactly the same thing) on the 2nd Amendment:
In reality, this was a tweet by a staffer of Senator Paul’s, who was tweeting the things being said by a speaker previously introduced by Paul, at some sort of an event. I was asked by Senator Paul’s office to clarify that. So, to be extra clear, this is a Paul staffer quoting a speaker who is not Senator Paul.
But it does leave open the question of Senator Paul’s thinking about the Second Amendment. The explanation point, the context, all that, made me assume Senator Paul agreed with this statement made a year ago. I’ve asked the Senator’s office for clarification on the Senator’s position on the 2nd Amendment, and I’ll insert that here if and when that happens.
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Here’s the thing: The 2nd Amendment is a sacred thing to the right, and to Libertarians. It is part of the Constitution. It was put in the constitution because the British suppressed the Colonials by taking away their guns. Not their hunting guns, no one ever did that. Not their sports weapons. Sports shooting was not really a thing in Colonial America. Rather, they took away the Colonial arms that were cached for the purpose of fighting the British. I’ve seen it. I’ve been to the spot where they did it. The point of the 2nd Amendment is to protect the people’s ability to be able to fight back as groups, states, whatever, against the government, should the government become a tyranny. That is the reason the Second Amendment is so important, and that is the reason people fight for it. It is not important because it protects our rights to have certain toys, certain hunting gear, or even, to protect our homes form invasion by criminals. There is no Constitutional protection for those uses of guns, nor is there Constitutional restriction. Same for cars, toasters, and fidgets. Not Constitutionally protected, yet we seem to have them. There is, in fact, another Amendment, I’ll let you research that on your own, that does protect unspecified rights that were already considered normal, and that is where hunting would likely come in.
The essential flaw in
Rand Paul’s everybody on the right’s argument has to do with the fact that this is not the 18th century. Most people who want to see sensible gun control accept the idea that the 2nd is out of date and no longer applies, and should be ignored or repealed.
I’m thinking that this recent shooting may be a high water mark for the idea that the 2nd Amendment is sacred, for the simple reason that Senator Paul’s staff is asking me to remove an indication that Senator Paul accepts the 2nd Amendment as a protection of weapon ownership by the people to fight a tyrannical government. That would be very interesting if he thought that, because it would mean that Senator Paul is open to putting aside the 2nd and talking about sensible gun reform. Good for him. Or, it might mean that Senator Paul is living between a rock and a hard place, as are many other.
That could cause change.
The point is this: We do not really live in a nation where regular people arm themselves for the purpose of fighting a tyrannical government. Some guy went to fight a tyrannical government the other day, and everyone — EVERY ONE — said no, don’t do that. Everyone said that is a criminal act, or the act of a mentally disturbed person or a terrorist, or whatever. Everyone agrees, even Rand Paul, apparently, that this whole keep the populous armed so we can fight the government thing no longer applies to this society. I hope to see conservatives and Libertarians finally join the rest of us at the table to talk about gun reform .
Bernie Sanders: Don’t shoot the Congressmen but …
Sanders whipped up a lot of hate in this country, during the last campaign. So did Hillary. It wasn’t their intention but it happened.
Today there are still grump muffins wandering around the planet complaining about Hillary this and Bernie that. Bernie has been a supporter of the Second Amendment, so one might expect his position to be similar to Rand Paul’s, but it isn’t. Representative and Senator Sanders supported the Second Amendment for a different reason.
It is hard to be a Senator, but not if you are from Vermont.
Vermont is an easy state to govern or represent because everybody in Vermont is the same. Also, they all live in Yurts. Many of them also have guns; These are not weapons of interpersonal violence, but rather, for shooting woodland beasts. So, if you are pro-Yurt, and don’t oppose hunting, then you can get on to the business of supporting the Maple Sugar industry and helping out with the tourism, which doesn’t need much help because Vermont is surrounded by metropolitan areas that supply countless leaf-peekers every fall for several weeks. It has got to be the easiest state in the country to lead or represent.
And as such, Senator Sanders never faced any real serious problems with policy vs. reality issues within his state. This allowed him, along with a few other Representatives and Senators from a few other states, to do crazy and unexpected things like vote against wars, or come up with policies that ignore special interests and meet the needs of the people. This is why Sanders could have radically pro-people policies while Clinton had to stay all the time in compromise mode throughout the last election. This is why Sanders could say outlandish things like education should be free, but Clinton got dinged for admitting out loud the strategy that allowed Lincoln to win the Civil War and free the Slaves in a world where no one else could have done either: Have a strategy in your head, and another one that people will go along with in your mouth, and work tirelessly to make the two eventually the same.
So Sanders and Clinton were dramatically different, but in ways that a thoughtful analysis would allow either to be complemented on their tactics and abilities. They came from different places, were reaching for almost identical goals, but the differences ended up enraging a lot of people more than the similarities united them. Apparently, that level of hate and anger was sufficient in the case of one Sanders supporter to allow him to take Rand Paul seriously, heavily arm himself, intent on fighting tyranny. (We are only guessing as to motive here, but I’m going to stick with this story until proven otherwise.)
James T. Hodgkinson: Look for New Gingrich’s Book among his effects
The first thing I notice about James. T. Hodgkinson is that his name most resembles a hypothetical made up character in an Aaron Sorkin script. I assume citizen Hodgkinson is a distant cousin of Joseph Bethersenton of Fargo, North Dakota.
The second thing I notice, based on the pictures and reporting, is how closely he resembles people I meet every week and see all the time. Frustrated, often a former Sanders supporter but not always, a person who truly believes that Donald Trump is a Tyrant, and who has also realized the other really important thing: As long as the Republicans are in the majority in Congress, Donald Trump gets to do whatever he wants, even if the courts slow him down now and then. We have separation of powers in this country, but we also have amalgamation of powers.
Years ago, when he was Speaker of the House, Republican Newt Gingrich said that Republicans should do whatever is required to take power, and only after taking power, govern. At that time the Republican agenda was already pretty right wing, but it has gotten even more right wing since then. And, now, they have taken power. And in the many years between implementing this strategy and realizing success, the Republicans totally forgot how to govern. So this is what we get.
Part of that “do whatever is required” bit is changing the way voting and electing and campaigning in this country happen, so even where Democrats have a 60% majority, they will lose. Now that the Republicans are fully in power, expect that number to change to 65% or even 70%.
Indeed, expect Republicans to never leave power now that they have it. Believe me, for every minute of time, dollar of money, and erg of energy being spent now to attempt to switch one or both houses of Congress to the Democrats in 2018, there are ten being spent to make sure that won’t happen.
This is it, this is the end, of the Republic, of America, of freedom and democracy.
The Lorax: Things can get pretty bad and people can get pretty mad before Grammy Norma kicks somebody’s ass
… unless that doesn’t happen.
I’m pretty sure James T. Hodgkinson (mis)estimated, if he was semi-lucid, that there was no turning back, that the only way Trump could get thrown out of office is if Democrats took over in Congress, and he further calculated that this was not going to happen in his lifetime. (Which, by the way, turned out to be the case but for different reasons.)
I was at an event the other day at which there were about 20 Grammy Normas, a roughly equal number of Pappy Normas, and about the same number of people who were not 70 or older, who came together to hear some speeches and sing some songs and vow their energy to the removal of the really awful Republican that represented them in Congress. My friend John Wexler, who is a Marine vet and a long time Democratic Party activist, was there, and he said to me, “This is like an election year, look at all this activity.” And I thought about it for a second and I says, “Yeah, this is like ‘08: Obama and Franken. And it an off-off year!”
This happened to be an Indivisible Minnesota CD03 picnic, but it could have been any of a number of gatherings by Indivisible groups, Stand Up groups, or other groups, of people who are not going to shoot anyone at this time, and are going to do everything they need to do to take back our Democracy from Tyrant Trump and his Republican henchmen. Again: Without shooting them.
The reason why Rand Paul’s technique won’t work is simple: It won’t work. There is no 21st century version of an armed citizenry able to throw off the yoke of tyranny. We have to do this differently these days, and we will.
Well, to be honest, we don’t know if we will. We don’t know if this odd event, of an incompetent clown being accidentally elected (with the help of the Russians) president at the very same moment in history when the Republican party rules and is also made up of mean spirited bought and paid for jerks, is something we can recover from. And that is what makes it all so scary. James T. Hodgkinson calculated that all is lost, and it is time to start shooting. But he’s a rare bird. He’s one in 10,000.
Which, if you do the math, means that there are lot of him out there.
And this is where I disagree with Nancy Pelosi
Today, Nancy Pelosi, on the House Floor, stated that we should turn down the rhetoric, implying that the intense rhetoric in today’s American politics is too heavy, and that is what lead James T. Hodgkinson to try to kill a softball team’s worth of Republicans.
But that is not what happened. James T. Hodgkinson did not react to the rhetoric. At most, he miscalculated the chance of us handling this with some hard work over a couple of years. At least, he should have kept his powder dry, because maybe in six or seven year’s we’ll be looking at the Constitution disolved and a full on police state. He made the mistake of failing to understand the process, which puts him in a lot of company given the way things went last election. It was not the rhetoric.
Here’s the thing. The rhetoric is as I stated above. Trump is a tyrant, and if he is not stopped he will formalize what he has already done in his own head: thrown away our democracy. The Republicans are his lap dogs and will help him in any way they can to do this, as long as they get to keep power. This is really really bad. That sounds like over the top rhetoric, the kind of rhetoric that would drive an unstable person who happens to be heavily armed to go to the ballpark, as it were. But it is simply the sorry truth and we should not walk away from it, for if we do, it will be to our peril.
At this time it is a bad idea to miscalculate what Grammy Norma and the others can do. That just sets us back. It makes strong Democrats in the house quiet down. That is not a good thing.
Don’t shoot the Republicans. But do everything else you can do to toss their sorry asses in the trash bin of history.