Civility does not mean avoiding debate or stating unpleasant truths. It does mean discussing the issues, not each other.
Gun safety is a partisan issue whether we like it or not. Voting for gun safety in 2018 means voting Democratic.
Many important restrictions in the Iran Deal last for more than 15 years, and some are permanent. But even under the logic of those who refuse to acknowledge the full range of restrictions, the Iran Deal still makes sense.
Important reads from Marc Stanley, Alan Solow, and Barbara Goldberg Goldman.
Don’t miss two great events on March 12 and March 14 in Chicago and Highland Park. Details beneath the Video Clip of the Week.
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My idea of civility is focusing on issues, not people or motives. Let’s debate ideas, and let’s debate them hard, but let’s also respect each other. This newsletter believes in the politics that Bret Stephens describes, which “believes in the virtues of openness, reason, toleration, dissent, second-guessing, respectful but robust debate, individual conscience and dignity, a sense of decency and also a sense of humor.” And let’s not be too quick to take offense. Can we agree on this?
We complain about partisanship in Washington, but sometimes we have difficulty seeing that because Washington is so partisan, it makes sense to vote based on party. We like to think of ourselves as above it all. We like to think we are independent. So we don’t like to be told to vote Democratic or Republican, because we feel like we are part of the problem if we give too much weight to party affiliation.
But if we don’t vote based on party affiliation, we ignore a core reality of American politics. There is no better predictor of how a politician will act than party affiliation.
In 2016, the Republicans ran the least qualified person in history for president. Trump ran a campaign that highlighted his ignorance, bigotry, and vulgarity. You would think that if ever there was an election where Republicans might support the Democratic nominee, this would it. Yet of the 77 prominent Republicans who supported Hillary Clinton, only one was an elected official, and that elected official, Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY), was not running for re-election.
Some elected Republicans said they would not support Trump, but none of them supported Hillary, and if I recall correctly, the only candidate on the ballot who could defeat Trump was Hillary. If you think that it is unreasonable to expect an elected Republican to support a Democrat, then congratulations: You understand how much party affiliation matters.
Last week, after another horrific gun massacre, with high school students in the gallery, the Florida House voted 71-36 not to consider a ban on assault weapons. All 71 voting no were Republicans. Former Rep. Ron Klein (D-FL) wrote that
It is immoral and unconscionable that Republicans and their leaders in Congress and the state legislatures have continually scuttled common sense gun reform, as this epidemic of violence rages. They, including President Trump, continue to try to change the subject and blame anything but guns, as we lurch from one mass shooting to the next.
In Illinois, we still have yet to see one Republican elected official or candidate commit to supporting the Democratic nominee in IL-3 over an actual Nazi.
The only way to enact gun control is by electing Democrats. Paul Waldman explains that
if you vote for Republicans, you are voting to make sure we do absolutely nothing about this problem, a problem that kills around 30,000 Americans every year. You might say, “That’s not what I’m voting for. I’m voting for low taxes and less regulation and restrictive abortion laws.” Sorry. You may be voting for those other things, too, but if you vote for Republicans, you are most certainly voting to make sure we do nothing about gun violence…
The Senate doesn’t filibuster every gun safety bill – Republicans do. The House doesn’t refuse to allow those bills to come to a vote – Republican leaders do. Washington didn’t pass a bill last year making it easier for people with mental illnesses to buy guns – Republicans in Congress did, and Trump signed it…
voting for Democrats is no guarantee that we’ll begin to solve the gun violence problem, [but] voting for Republicans is a stone-cold, absolute, ironclad, 100 percent guarantee that we won’t.
Why didn’t Democrats pass gun control when Obama was president? Democrats had a majority in the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate for a grand total of four months during Obama’s presidency. That’s not much time to get anything done in Washington, and Obama’s focus was on the getting us out of the worst economic downturn since the Depression, which he accomplished via the stimulus, as well as Wall Street reform, the Affordable Care Act, rescuing the auto industry, recapitalizing banks, the Children’s Health Insurance Authorization Act, and other reforms.
But in 2013, following the school gun massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, the Senate voted down all of Obama’s proposed gun safety reforms. Ninety percent of Democrats supported the reforms, and 90% of Republicans opposed the reforms. Some Democrats do take NRA money, and some Republicans would support gun safety measures if their leaders allowed a vote, but it is clear which party is mostly to blame.
Some of my best friends are Republicans. Not really, but it seems like the thing to say at this point. My guess, though, is that Republicans don’t want children to die. That means that if someone votes Republican, that person either doesn’t understand the role of political parties in today’s America or that person believes that other policies are more important than gun safety.
I would vote for a Republican over an actual Nazi or even over a Democrat as unqualified, bigoted, and vulgar as Donald Trump. Party cannot be the sole factor. But if you care about the issues, it’s one of the most important factors.
Another way to think about the Iran Deal. Many important restrictions imposed on Iran by the Iran Deal last beyond 15 years and some, including a ban on nuclear weapons, are permanent. But even those who don’t acknowledge these key restrictions should still support the JCPOA.
As John Kerry asked last week, “If your house is on fire, are you going to refuse to put it out because you’re concerned that it might light on fire again in 15 years? Or are you going to put it out and use the intervening time to do the best you can to prevent it from ever catching fire again?”
On Thursday, for the tenth time in a row, the IAEA confirmed that Iran remains in compliance with the JCPOA. All of us who care about the safety and security of the U.S. and Israel should oppose attempts to undermine the Iran Deal, whether through legislation or executive action.
ICYMI: Marc Stanley on Trump’s ambivalence about Israel’s right to defend itself. Alan Solow warns Trump that you can’t force a peace deal. Barbara Goldberg Goldman rejects Trump’s anti-immigrant stance.
Tweet of the Week: Sarah Chadwick.
Photo of the Week:. Trump’s notes for his meeting with Florida teens.
Video Clip of the Week: The Oscars are next Sunday, so Honest Trailers: Get Out.
Two events you don’t want to miss: On Monday, March 12, Alan Solow and David Goldenberg are hosting a lunch in Chicago with special guests Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) in support of Congressional candidates Ken Harbaugh (D-OH) and Elissa Slotkin (D-MI). For more details and to RSVP, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
On Wednesday, March 14, Dana Gordon and Steve Sheffey are hosting an event for Ken Harbaugh from 7-8:30pm in Highland Park. RSVP here or by replying to this newsletter. Contributions welcome but not required. Ken will talk about gun safety and other pressing issues.
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