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You Can’t Vote Your Way Out of a Mass Shooting

If we had actual representative democracy, we wouldn’t be in this situation

At the end of June, in a year when the country is averaging 11 mass shootings a week, the U.S. Supreme Court struck a blow to gun control, affirming that Americans have the right to carry firearms in public. More people will take up deadly weapons as a result of this decision, and, of course, more people will die from those weapons. The ruling broke 6-3, and three of the conservative justices in the majority were appointed to the court for life by a president who lost the popular vote by three million yet won office through the peculiarities of the Electoral College.   

Whatever your view of how the nation was founded or is meant to function, you can’t call this representative democracy. A government that reflected the will of its people would enact the overwhelmingly popular proposals for reducing gun violence, not obstruct them. It would also legislate according to the will of the 61 percent who say abortion should be legal in all or most cases and didn’t want Roe v. Wade overturned, or take stronger action on climate change, as two-thirds of Americans would prefer. Democrats’ consistent failure to bring these broad, winning voter mandates to fruition is the reason their endless campaigning and fundraising on the issues has come to seem tedious and cynical. And here’s where it gets you in the end:

Thank you, former media columnist Ann Brenoff, for suggesting to a survivor of a shooting at a Fourth of July parade which claimed six lives that she needs to vote. I’m sure she’s never heard that before, never even considered the civic option of expressing her political views at the ballot box. If there’s no candidate she prefers, she can just write in “Don’t Kill Me.” Problem solved.

Speaking only for myself, I’ve voted Democratic going on 20 years, and I can’t say it’s significantly affected my odds of being caught in a massacre like this one. “Please Vote” as a response to random, mechanized terror is becoming the liberal “Thoughts and Prayers,” less an acknowledgement of what happened than a plea to move on and not think too critically about it. There’s a blithe assumption that the dead are martyrs for — and the wounded are now champions of — a cause you’re not even willing to name, let alone fight for. The president refers to voting as if to avoid phrases like “murder” or “bloodshed” or “epidemic of gun violence.”     

I don’t know how many more times we can tell you that we’ve been voting, and remain frustrated that Democratic leaders and legislatures are nonetheless held hostage by a radical minority imposing Second Amendment absolutism. It’s like you’re asking us to spend another $5 on a rigged carnival game — as if the sheer force of belief could thwart the scam. And you’re perilously close to blaming the victims of American dysfunction for the tragedies that befall them. 

Hey, they should have voted more, right? If only they’d lived to have the chance.