The snow has yet to melt off the graves of the twenty children who were slaughtered at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT and Congress has forgotten about them entirely. As I write this (March 19), Spring has not yet started and Senate Democratic leadership has given up bringing to the Senate floor legislation that would ban assault weapons and the high capacity magazines used to kill 20 children and 6 teachers. As I write this, it is also ten years ago to the day that the invasion of Iraq began. Somehow, in a truly sickening way, the symmetry is startling.
Whether it was ten years ago when Democrats gave in so easily to President Bush's mad dash towards preemptive war, or the current Democratic cave-in to the power of the NRA and their absolute refusal to value life above gun manufacturing profits, Democratic leadership seems to be permanently impotent.
I knew that no matter how horrible the massacre in Newtown was, that the shock and outrage we all felt would not last through the holidays into the Spring. We are just not wired for long periods of attention.
I must admit though, I did have some hope upon seeing President Obama's State of the Union speech where he ended it calling - no, shaming - members of Congress by demanding that the people of Newtown deserved a vote on preventing gun violence. He called Congress out stating rightfully that the people of Aurora, the people of Tucson, the people of Oak Creek, WI, and the people of Chicago all deserve a vote. Heck, he could have named practically every city and town in the United States as gun violence has become so pervasive and we have grown so accustomed to it. I can still remember his speech. I can almost hear his voice as he called for Congressional action. I had a small glimmer of hope then, that perhaps this might be enough to rip the Republican and Democratic umbilical cord tied to the NRA.
I should have known better. The problem with this issue isn't Republican entrenchment, as it is with so many other issues. The problem is Democratic backbone - or a lack thereof. Senate Democrats are refusing to bring the assault weapons ban and the ban on high capacity magazines to the floor for a vote. Newtown, Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek, Chicago, everywhere, you don't get a vote. You do not get a vote despite the fact that a ban on assault weapons is favored by 57% of the US public, and despite the fact that a ban on high capacity magazines is favored by close to 70%. How foolish I was to believe that if the American people wanted something they would get it. Not here, not with this Congress and not with the Senate Democratic leadership who seem incapable of leading.
115 days from the shooting in Newtown and we have lost the outrage and the determination to "do something to end gun violence" that we kept hearing elected "leaders" ramble on about.
Ten years since we invaded Iraq.
There is something so horribly poetic that we give up on ending gun violence the same day that, ten years ago, we gave up on common sense alternatives to unnecessary warfare. Ten years ago we had a President and Vice-President with an insane certainty in their own righteousness. Today we have an insane lobby group with enormous money and a paranoid fear of the repeal of the 2nd Amendment; something I will bet my legs will not happen in my lifetime or in ten lifetimes to come. Insanity reigned ten years ago and insanity reigns today. Any political opposition offering reason and peace as viable alternatives, both then and now, is out to lunch.
Why is our society so violent and so resistant to rational thinking such as searching for weapons of mass destruction before we initiate full-scale warfare? Why are we so focused on preserving the right to shoot hundreds of bullets in literally seconds - something that actually is not a right guaranteed by any reasonable reading of the Constitution - at the expense of lives of our children? And why are we so paralyzed and resistant to reasonable action such as banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines, or actually demanding that the rationale for preemptive war be proven before we kill hundreds of thousands of people? Maybe smarter people can answer these questions. I cannot.
I am not surprised that there are some who want access to military-style weapons because they, who happen to mostly be white middle-aged men, believe that there will be a government takeover, which happens to be led by a Black man.
I am not surprised that there are some who want to invade other countries and mask those efforts with lies and deceit and who are pushing us still towards another unnecessary war with Iran.
I am not even surprised that the Democratic leadership caved ten years ago and today and pose little threat to the forces which drove us to war then and which drive us towards ever-increasing gun violence today.
I am not surprised that the rest of us have grown used to unrestrained violence and those who profit from it and a lack of leadership standing up to it.
I am not surprised that the response of people of faith to all of this has been at best muffled outrage or at worst, acquiescence.
I just am not surprised anymore.
And this is why Jeremiah still weeps.