Here is Exactly Why Congress Won’t Act on Gun Violence, Climate Change, Impeaching Trump or Anything Else

Image result for beauty is in the street I’m from Dayton so I’m thinking about this today: Why hasn’t Congress done anything to address our national epidemic of mass shootings, namely reviving the assault weapons ban? People—Democrats and not a few Republicans—ask me that all the time. I bet all left-leaning pundits get that question.

The answer is simple. But it’s not something most people want to hear. It’s the same answer I give to another question I get a lot: why hasn’t Trump been impeached?

Congress hasn’t gotten off its collective pasty lobbyist-fattened ass because the streets of every major city are not currently filled with millions of pissed-off people throwing rocks at store windows and who refuse to go home until Congress passes real gun control.

Democratic voters want Trump impeached. They want it—lackadaisically. They don’t want him impeached so badly that millions of demonstrators are willing to fill the streets of every major city day after day, night after night, turning over police cars and setting stuff on fire, until Nancy Pelosi begins impeachment hearings.

This is a fun game! You name an issue lots of people care about. I’ll explain why the political class is ignoring it.

For example: What with experts predicting imminent human extinction, 98% of Americans are worried about climate change. (Who are the 2%? Happy to die but too lazy to commit suicide?) So why isn’t the U.S. government doing anything about it? Because—yes, you’ve got it now—the streets of America’s major cities are not choked by millions of citizens up for breaking things and fighting back the cops 24-7 until the politicians do something to increase humanity’s odds of survival.

You may disagree with my answers on the grounds that breaking windows is mean to storeowners, that burning things generates toxic gases, that cops are scary or that it’s more fun to sit home watching TV or playing video games than to run around in the streets dodging tear gas. You can rightly point out that the United States has no organized left-wing political group, much less one on the grassroots level, capable of organizing a mass street movement. You can, even more rightly, point out that we shouldn’t have to take to the streets because it’s Congress’ goddamn job to fix the environment and get rid of our insane president and ban the sale of military-grade guns to inbred derps.

What you cannot argue is that I am wrong.

It is an irrefutable incontrovertible fact that, when the nation’s cities are clogged with millions of angry Americans demanding radical change day after night after day after night, who break stuff and refuse to disperse and fight back against the cops and are willing to get beaten up and sometimes killed for their cause, and it’s impossible to carry on business as usual, our worthless public officials will yield to their demands and do what’s right.

Until then, mass shooters will continue to terrorize our public spaces, SUVs will belch greenhouse gases and Trump will tweet crazy racist BS. Bad things happen because good people don’t force them to stop.

Wishing out loud for other people, like Congress, to do something is worse than worthless. It’s damaging. You’re abdicating your responsibility to act. If you trust in “leaders” whose history shows they can’t be trusted, you’re committing political suicide.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Francis: The People’s Pope.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)


11 thoughts on “Here is Exactly Why Congress Won’t Act on Gun Violence, Climate Change, Impeaching Trump or Anything Else

  1. Ted,

    I agree with you on the core of what you’re saying (at least, the core of what I think you’re saying): politics and political action (i.e., being an adult) is something the adults have to step up to.
    A friend of mine once defined the difference between adults and children as being that children make messes and must be compelled to clean them up, whereas adults understand AND accept that they must clean up their own messes. (I find it quite instructive to watch the people who object to these two definitions try to come up with better ones.) The adults need to relearn how to backhand a kid in the face. “Hush up! The adults are talking. No one wants to hear your uninformed nonsense.”

    Anyway, climate, gun violence, etc., are all problems that the adults must step up and handle because the children will not. Let’s look at climate change. Do you know what the children did? They crossed their pwecious widdle arms and insisted (stamp widdle foot) that ewewywone put paper in a separate box from plastic and glass and metal. Talk to the adults on the issue: that sort of recycling won’t do shit. You need a system in which plastics (at least as they currently exist) are, literally, restricted SOLELY for medical devices and similar essentials. Plastic soda bottles? Are you high? Those should be on the list right next to napalm, thalidomide, and asbestos. There is NO reason for there to be plastic soda bottles. Ditto those idiotic plastic holsters for six packs and pretty much every remaining use of plastic. Don’t want to drop a glass shampoo bottle in the bathtub? Get a RUBBER shampoo bottle. Put up with a trivial amount of inconvenience. While you’re at it? Realize that the amount of poisons pumped out by one of the Chinese or Indian factories your pitiful 401(k) invests in will generate, in less than a second, a year’s worth of your level of CO2. That’s where you have to go.

    Adults could solve gun violence in, roughly, four minutes: Permit guns but require insurance, registered bullets, and mandatory evaluation every year for gun ownership.
    The reality (which Mike Tyson DeGrasse pointed out) is that gun violence is NOT an epidemic. It merely makes for gripping television. The number of “gun nuts” is almost nonexistent relative to the total number of guns and gun owners. But pwecious widdle child stamps his widdle foot as he applies to Harward.
    10 times more people die from cigarettes. When was the last time you saw a news story about the behavior every single cigarette smoker engages in (throwing the butt on the sidewalk, out the window, wherever the child–see earlier definition–smoker felt like discarding it)? When have you seen a SWAT team shot a smoker in the face? “She had a vape stick. The police had no choice but to drop her in her tracks.” AIDS? Ditto. A fraction of the people who die from cigarettes die from AIDS, but AIDS rallied the gay community, and it became a focal point for the media to obsess over. Look at the stats on AIDS deaths. Compare them to cancer, driving, suicide, alcoholism.

    The reason all this goes on and on and on? It’s a huge cash cow for both parties. And while they distract us like idiots, they can continue to ignore health care, retirement, salaries, etc. for the middle class and the poor

    The simple summary? Guns distract us from the real issues.

      • Damn these people with their three names. I blame Mary Tyler Moore. That perky little so and so.

    • The 16 year old girl, Greta Thunberg, has been leading Student Climate Strike and she’s been making a lot more sense than most adults who are in power.
      I do agree with you about the distractions of the gun debates.

  2. Even if millions were to go into the streets NOTHING of long term importance would occur IF the demands of the protestors, for solutions to myriad societal problems, were only congressional action.

    Alex correctly points out that gun violence is used as one of many media diversions to obscure the real issues. The very same can be said of large proportion of congressional legislation. The rest of congressional legislation is passed to further bolster the corrupt system that is the cause of all the problems.

    For example, that 2% apparently not concerned about climate change think its a hoax.*** The actual hoax is that the pathetically little legislation that has been proposed to deal with climate change has ANY chance to affect any meaningful solution. I refer to the insulting, insipid legislative sleight-of-hand termed “cap and trade.”

    As Einstein pointed out: a problem cannot be solved by the same reasoning^^^ that caused it.

    In our situation, capitalism is the single, unifying cause of essentially all problems extant. On the vanishingly tiny chance that millions flood into US streets, the effort will be futile unless the objective is to crush capitalism that enslaves people for the profits of the few, then uses those profits to control all levels of government to consolidate and perpetuate the oppression of the many.
    *** there is, of course, that ubiquitous 0.01% that think that the effects of climate change will not cross
    the gates of their compounds in New Zealand, Uruguay, etc.
    ^^^ here “reasoning” means, apparently, “vicious, bottomless avarice.”

  3. > What you cannot argue is that I am wrong.

    I’ll accept that challenge!

    I fully admit that violence in the streets could work. Might not, the 1% do have the military and the police on their side. They got bombs & planes & tanks & shit – you’re not gonna hold ’em off with grandpappy’s 12 guage. But it might work.

    But the biggest fallacy of your argument is the assumption that that’s the only way forward. I disagree, there is also civil disobedience – a nationwide sitdown strike would likewise paralyze the nation without the loss of life and damage to the property of the other 99%. You don’t win people over to your cause by setting their cars on fire. You could set a few Rolls and Lamborghinis on fire, but there’s those pesky cops again. It’s much easier and more convenient to burn your own home than the Koch Bros’…

    There’s a peaceful political way forward as well. Vote for people who will move the ball down the field. Yeah, we could do that.

    But here’s the kicker – none of the above will work. Why, you may ask. and I’m glad you did…

    1) Ya gotta eat. OWS started out great, mostly-peaceful civil disobedience, but how long can you hold it up? Washington’s army could forage and hunt along the way, today’s revolutionaries don’t have that luxury. They gotta eat, that means they gotta go to work and that means the protest is over come Monday morning. For it to work, they’d need to sustain it long term, and that’s simply not feasible.

    2) It’s too damn big. Say half the country is progressive, cool. Say 10% of those adults are motivated enough To Do Something. That’s 25 million people. You can’t get that many people to whistle Yankee Doodle in unison, how the blazes are you goring to make a long term, coordinated effort? You’d need a large, well-organized command structure first. Anarchists really aren’t into ‘command structure’ just to start with. Without focus, the best you can communicate is “we’re unhappy” – but you can’t communicate “This is specifically what you need to do about it” (OWS, again…)

    3) Many of us can count, and are fully aware of 1 & 2 above. Some of us may be willing to take risks, but not if the effort is doomed to failure in the first place.

    Note that these three points are equally applicable to violent revolution, peaceful revolution, or political action.

    Oh, I do believe that violence in the streets is coming, but it won’t be preventative – it’ll be a reaction to mass starvation, energy shortages, overpopulation, and various other apocalyptic horsemen. See what you’ve done? Now I’m all depressed again.

    • The violence to come (to white former middle class white people) will be just like the violence that now goes on in economically depressed largely non-white people’s communities.

      Marshal McCluhan says all violence is a quest for identity. I think this statement has a lot of merit.

      With white people’s identities so closely tied to what they do for a living, and what now can be done for a living being limited by such as NAFTA’s job displacement, and computerized efficiencies with further job displacement, identities are being crushed by capitalist “progress”.

      Working people have been chumped by both Obama and Trump.

      With internet technology today everyone can be a cartoonist but only a diminishing few will ever earn a living by doing it.

      People will fight for scraps today if it means a chance for survival until tomorrow.

      A guest on Democracy Now! this Monday morning suggested that (what in effect will be a use of posse comitatus and what will necessarily be a militarized police force) government should treat right wing hate groups the way Al-Quaeda was/is treated.

      That’s all that’s needed to fire up these people in service to their crushed identities. Yes, greater militarized violence in order to end violence. What could possibly go wrong? Hint: take a look at the great job our government has done in Iraq.

      And after the hate groups are defeated (or more likely assimilated into posse comitatus) what are the chances of it being disbanded before being repurposed?

      But gun control has always been a boon for both of the warmongering parties to boost campaign contributions.

      Martin Luther King Jr. was correct in his linking of Vietnam and domestic violence. The U.S. is still “The Greatest Purveyor of Violence in the World Today”.

      Gun violence is a symptom of a Sick Society.

      And good luck with fixing this sickness with more State violence.

  4. There is a better strategy, strikes.

    If the overwhelming majority of the population backed strikes in key industries profits would be slashed and thoughtful demands, get big money out politics, no more gerrymandering…ect would start sounding possible, plausible…then necessary as the wealthy told congress to get the wheels moving again. Strikes are not as bold and dramatic as direct action but don’t think they are easy. The count may declare a strike illegal, people will need rent money and food, people will have to support each other but with no overt violence the state can’t pull out its big sticks to beat the opposition into silence.

    With a congress ready to listen, the green issues could be worked out. Avoid show case projects (central valley bullet train), get people closer to their jobs with better regional zoning, more multistory housing, telecommuting and or provide good fast public transit. I use the bus and the train to commute, I need to save money and avoid the traffic, one day the train crew talked one the richest neighborhoods in California and how they keep complaining about their train whistle, tough let’s investigate them for offshore tax shelters and build a bigger system with fewer grade crossings. Secondly we need to slash the emissions modern agriculture creates. Our trade partners need to do the same on both counts. Finally make sure that working people on the edge are not pushed into poverty by any green taxes or price increases, multi-millionaires that can write a check to go solar and buy carbon offsets great, just don’t turn around with a smug smile and say everyone should go green…. I never take real vacations because I can’t afford it…..electric car way out reach…ect.

    Changing the budget priorities, too many wars.

    As the wars are wound down, make sure the separating service members have jobs to go to. Before WWII we had a large Navy but a very small army, the strategy was navies take time to build but armies can be built quicker. Ships can be mothballed, same for tanks, a reduced army could bring the reserves up speed if they where needed.
    We could call a stronger civilian economy the Home Front Strong Plan to get more buy in: with military savings and some laws passed we should make all of our military electronics at home (less chance of built in Chinese hacks) along with antibiotics (in the name of profits it has all been outsourced!!!!) and other key items are made here in greener factories. In peace or war healthy young educated people make the difference, so support PE in school and rec centers, bike trails, ect.
    Teach a core of technical skills with hands on equipment for those that have trouble learning from a book (even if a student goes into the arts a little practical science could make young person better voter). Don’t forget student health care. The support the State Department and other forms of diplomacy so the overwhelming majority of young people won’t be needed in the military.

    If congress drags things out too long on the switch to a lower cost military the population knows what to do.

    Breaking Things:
    A mass riot would likely backfire and lead to mass incarnation, calling out the National Guard and they would carry more than just tear gas and rubber bullets if things got ugly. Right wing groups would feel emboldened to take to the streets. The media would portray the progressive rioters as freeloaders that want everything for free or just plain vandals and anarchists with no plans beyond breaking the system.
    People with children would drop out the movement, after a few cases of parents being branded as terrorist, given harsh sentences and losing their parental rights.
    Politics would swing to the extreme right to restore order; laws would be passed to strip violent offenders of their voting rights for life…… then the next step, pass constitutional amendments to set the right wing agenda into stone that will hard to remove.

    Right now there is one protest movement going on the right can’t stop, people are having fewer children…less competition for jobs, fewer consumers, fewer soldiers, a higher percentage of people of color…The Right Wing Think Tanks are nervous but they getting paid to serve up neo liberal Kool-Aid so they rarely see the majority is stressed out…many to the breaking point, when they see problems, blame a migrant or liberal and prescribe more Right Wing Kool Aid

    • Regarding the last paragraph, I recommend reading the book Birth Strike: The Hidden Fight Over Women’s Work by Jenny Brown…heck it kind of relates to all of the above as well. Of course the author has not been a guest on MSM, however was on Chris Hedges’ RT show, Doug Henwood’s Behind the News.
      From the jacket: The US economy relies on the uncompensated labor of millions of overworked, exhausted women. What happens when they say “no more”?
      There are supposed to be climate general strikes in September, following the lead of teen activist Greta Thunberg’s student climate strikes.

  5. I’m with Oldvet above – save for the inaccurate and superfluous reference to «built in Chinese hacks» ; the built-in hacks for which we have evidence were performed by the NSA – a wave of strikes would have greater influence on the interests of those who run the country than breaking windows in violent demonstrations, which would no doubt be met not merely with the cops and the National Guard, but with the Army – and of course, counter-demonstrators. The problem is how to organise such strikes ; the impression I get is that organised labour in the United States is effectively dead as a political and economic force (please advise if I am wrong here). I hate to be a wet blanket, but I don’t see any force in the US which could disturb the Congress in its pursuit of «campaign contributions» and lucrative post-Congress employment….

    I hope I’m wrong in pessimism and that, in that case, you will advise !…


    • Hi Henri,

      1) Your assessment of the state of US unions is correct. Those that have not been destroyed outright have been co-opted by their corporate masters … as has the government itself. Paradoxically, only government employee (Fed and state) unions have survived in anywhere close to historic membership levels.

      The grand and glorious exceptions are various nurses unions. As far as I can see, they are the most radical public force of any significant number in current US politics. (as in the OTHER factor contributing to surging positive sentiment for “medicare for all,” along with grouchy Sen. “I wrote the damn bill”)

      2) Re pessimism: if one is not pessimistic about the future^^^ of “the grand American experiment in self-governance” then one is either 1) not paying attention, 2) does not want 
to know (e.g: 65 million HRC voters), 3) is in an actual coma … as opposed to the many types of self-induced ones, including but not restricted to, the “I don’t want to hear negative things” militant pollyanna-ism*** of “the liberal left.”

      ^^^ This, of course, assumes that said experiment has actually HAD a past independent of the massive volume of well-broadcast, self-congratulatory propaganda

      *** See wiki article on “Pollyanna,” section on “plot,” for meaning and derivation