Embarrassing

I'm almost done reviewing my "Apple's 2013: iOS 7" post, so that's coming soon. In the meantime, a few words about what just happened in Congress regarding the gun control bill.


I made the mistake late last night of posting a thought I had regarding President Obama's ineptitude on Facebook. First of all, I posted it late last night, which is usually the first warning sign that I probably shouldn't say anything - good things rarely come of ideas between 11pm and 6am.

That post read thusly: Obama can't pass a gun control bill with a 90% public approval rating after a school shooting. That's now a political fact.

Needless to say (because anyone who's voiced anything remotely close to a political opinion on Zuck's Big Blue Argument Hole knows what happens next) the more right-leaning of my Friends (uppercase, for the title designation and not the emotion) responded with typical skepticism and criticism.

Jordan (of Philosophy Baker, who's rocking a real nice Squarespace template, if I might say so myself) said the statement I made was not political fact as much as it was spin, because similar statements could be made blaming the fall of the bill on Congress. Others expressed skepticism of the 90% figure (to which I direct them here.), and others said this was just like President Obama's healthcare bill, in that Congress hasn't cared the way citizens feel about its actions for a while.

None of these were really what the post was about, and in retrospect there's a lot more to say on the subject, so I'll clarify.

Obama's speech after the bill failed was an account of how the gun lobby and their purchased senators intimidated cowardly moderates and liberals to voting against the bill, making it fail. He said that the fact that Congress couldn't do what was obviously the will of the people was "embarrassing".

That's not why I'm embarrassed.

First of all, the gun lobby's going to do what the gun lobby is going to do - lobby for increased rights to own and purchase guns without restriction, and fight attempts to do otherwise. Expecting otherwise is the bad idea, and if this sort of thing isn't accounted for in the beginning of a political strategy, that's not their fault.

It's also not reasonable to expect Congressmen who've received donations from political lobbying organizations to vote against their contributors, or to expect cowards to be anything other than cowardly. A reasonable political tactician will factor this stuff in before they begin their strategy.

The only people left to blame are the ones making the strategy - the Democratic political organization, led by the President. So, did they forget about the NRA's primary purpose, the Republican's steadfast opposition, the gun caucus, or the cowards? Were they asleep, or in a light fugue state? I don't think so - their biggest problem is more simple than that.

It's that they're smug.

Smugness, when asked to accomplish What They Want To Happen, takes into account all of the opposing teams, and assumes that What They Want To Happen will happen because it's obviously the right thing to do. Smugness assumes posession of the right idea, and believes that if not granted their wishes, in time they will be vindicated by the gradual procession of time towards what they know to be the future.

If that sounds like Conviction, it's close, but there's a crucial difference. Conviction necessitates Action - someone with conviction works hard to accomplish their goal, because they know it's the right thing to do and because they know how important it is to get done, and the consequences of not doing it. The risk of failure, for themselves and others, propels someone with conviction to action.

Smugness requires no action - it's the idea that what they believe is so right and so pure and so just that to not do it isn't even imaginable. Who would do such a thing? Such a thing would be 'stupid'.

Republicans have conviction. Republicans have beliefs, some of which I agree with, and most of them I don't, but they have conviction in those beliefs. They are convinced that the things the believe in are of paramount importance, and to risk their defeat would be devastating.

Democrats are smug. Democrats have beliefs, too, most of which I agree with and some of them I don't, but they haven't seen the need to work particularly hard or be effective enough to accomplish them. The healthcare bill that Republicans and other right-leaning people oppose so deeply is more like their alternative than what Democrats actually believe should be the case, because Democrats (with the White House and a large Congressional majority) couldn't hold steady against opposition. When they were defeated, they retreated not to conviction, but to smugness - they know they're right, just you wait and see!

It must be frustrating to support a party that doesnt feel the need to enact their political positions into law.

When it comes to guns, though, where there are lives at stake, where communities are under martial law, where ther is no clearer distinction between business interests and the will and desires of a nation, where a vocal minority forces a majority to live in a state of fear because of a refusal to live in a state of safety, and when the reality of the dangers of reckless gun policy and unregulated gun ownership are as fresh as a few months old in the minds of America, people expected that the powers that be get something substantive done. Instead, they got President Obama and the Democrats, and what they've just bungled is the equivalent of not being able to pass increased airport security after 9/11.

The thesaurus entry for "smug" lists its synonyms as "self satisfied" and "complacent". Are there any better descriptions for why the Democrats failed to pass a bill like this? Theye were so sure of themselves that they didn't put in the work necessary to do what needed to be done, and as they stand up now and try to tell their party faithful that this is only round one, that there's more to this fight, and that they'll push hard for what they believe in, I'm embarrassed for them. You don't get another round after a knockout.