by GREG RUSSAK
History is replete with milestones and turning points. We have arrived at another, for the country and for the GOP.
This one is centered on the Second Amendment. The debate rages about its meaning, intent, and relevancy in a modern world and, in the wake of yet another tragic shooting, what to do about gun violence. The burden and judgement of history, in my opinion, now rests squarely on the shoulders of the Republican party, not the president.
Public consensus seems clear. When polled, Americans say they want more checks in place before guns can be purchased. We also are saying that we want fewer - not more - dangerous weapons in the hands of ordinary civilians.
The leadership of the GOP seems to be ignoring reality yet again. They've done so at nearly every turn since the 2008 election cycle, the short-lived and fading Tea Party movement that disrupted the GOP and elections in 2010 notwithstanding.
On some level, it seems to be getting worse. A party willing to give any consideration at all to the likes of a Donald Trump, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, or Rick Santorum is already difficult to take seriously. Mitt Romney, by most accounts, was the least offensive choice they could present.
On the issue of gun violence, Republicans who now insist on adding public concerns and sentiments about guns to the growing list of realities and shifting societal norms and values they choose to ignore do so not only at their own peril, but they put their entire party at peril for the 21st century.
The reelection of President Obama seems not to have taught Republican leaders a thing except that the more extreme the position they take, the more airtime they'll get with Fox. They truly seem intent on listening only to and parroting the most extreme voices. This time those voices belong to Wayne LaPierre and David Keene of the NRA. Republican leaders are choosing them over their rank-and-file members and even over those Republicans who self-identify as NRA members.
So how is it possible in the wake of so many gun-related tragedies that elected leaders from the Republican party are not uniform in their support for ANY proposals from the president to reduce gun violence?
Is there a turning point in the history of the GOP that helps to answer this question, and that helps to inform us about what the question about gun legislation reveals about the underlying beliefs that have guided the party's thinking into the present day and possibly into its future? [MORE]