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Save Your Prayers and Pass Some Laws

Congressmen and women, stop saying there's nothing we can do. Stop offering prayers as substitutes for action.

"When our politicians sow divisiveness and hate for political gain; when they sell their votes and their honor to the highest bidders; when they reject reason for bigotry, blame and bias, this is what you get," Atcheson writes. (Photo: Elvert Barnes/Flickr/cc)

OK, enough. 

The degree of crazy in our country is simply no longer tenable. 

"So, Congressmen and women, stop saying there's nothing we can do. Stop offering prayers as substitutes for action."

The degree of meanness and divisiveness is no longer tenable.

The degree of anti-science, anti-reason, anti-Enlightenment bullshit is no longer tenable.

Fifty-nine dead and 527 wounded should be statistics from a war zone, not a civilian tragedy. But when our politicians sow divisiveness and hate for political gain; when they sell their votes and their honor to the highest bidders; when they reject reason for bigotry, blame and bias, this is what you get.

And it’s not just guns.  We are drifting into uncharted territory with climate change, and it will kill as many as 100 million people between now and 2030, while impoverishing and dislocating a billion and a half more, and causing the extinction of as many as half of all species.

Why are these immediate and long-range tragedies unfolding?  Because we no longer make our decisions based on evidence, reason, and the scientific method.  We have become a faith-based nation.  And under cover of faith, our leaders in both Parties take cash under the table and offer prayers and heartfelt good wishes instead of action. 

I’m a long way from religious, but one of my favorite religious parables centers on a woman marooned on her roof in the midst of a deadly flood, with the rain continuing to fall and the waters continuing to rise – a particularly apt metaphor for today’s troubles.  A man in a boat passes by and offers to help her, but she declines, saying “The Lord will protect me.”  The waters continue to rise, lapping at her feet, and a helicopter drops a rope and urges her to grab it.  Again, she declines and says her prayers will take care of her.  But soon the waters cover her and after struggling mightily, she drowns.  When she arrives at heaven she asks the Lord, “Why didn’t you answer my prayers?” the Lord answers, “Who do you think sent the boat and the helicopter?”

So, Congressmen and women, stop saying there’s nothing we can do. Stop offering prayers as substitutes for action.


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Save your prayers and your good wishes and pass some goddamned laws.  And not something that nibbles at the edge of our problem, like keeping mentally ill patients from buying semi-automatic machine guns and grenades.  Ban the sale of machine guns and semi-automatic weapons; register all firearms; close all the loopholes.  Require extensive background checks and long waiting periods. Require trigger locks, training, and storage requirements.  We make people pass a driver’s test.  Why not one to own a gun?

And stop saying this is not the time to talk about gun control. It’s long past time.

And Democrats, don’t pretend you’re not complicit in this madness.  Stand up to the NRA.  Lead the polls on this issue, don’t follow them.  Hell, the vast majority of Americans already back stricter gun laws.  With a little guts, you could move them to back more stringent laws that would actually make a difference.

And when you’re done with that, stand up to the fossil fuel lobby and the crazies who are denying climate change.  And don’t adopt any neoliberal half measures.  Ms. Clinton accepted the science – which clearly and unambiguously said we had to leave 80 percent of the fossil fuels we’d already found in the ground – yet she backed fracking and exploration for new fossil fuel reserves.  How the hell can you rationalize that?  At the end of the day, it’s this kind of gutless pandering to the moneyed interests that allowed Trump to win with only 26.1 percent of the eligible voters backing him.

The sane people have nowhere to go.  Both Parties engage in imaginary thinking.  Yes, Republicans are far worse, but that’s small solace.  Sort of like saying I’d rather crash into the wall at 50 miles an hour than 100 mph.  Both end in disaster; the only difference is how long it takes. 

And this flirting with the Dark Ages isn’t restricted to mass murder by guns or climate change.  Faith-based reasoning is what made so many people think Obamacare was evil and it’s why Republicans couldn’t come up with a rational alternative.  They're stuck on the roof with the crazy religious lady, and it’s killing us.

It’s why their budget makes no sense.  It’s why these self-described deficit hawks are exploding the deficit even while they increase taxes for the majority of Americans. They are held in thrall to corporations and the ultra-rich, and they’re trying to pray away the reality of their policies with trickle down homilies and supply side bromides.

Meanwhile, the neoliberal Democrats mumble meaningless mush under their breath, caught between a belief in reason and the reality of depending upon the rich and corporations to help them purchase their way into power.

And then there’s we the people.  Pretending that there is any way a political system that runs on money could actually represent people is an act of faith that is destroying the country and the world. We hold Congress in contempt – approval ratings for it hover below 20 percent and have for years, now.  Yet we keep sending “our” guy or gal back, year after year.  It’s time we stopped sending the same jackasses back to Washington.  If your congressperson doesn’t back gun control, campaign finance reform, climate change laws and doesn’t believe in the Enlightenment; if he or she offers you prayers, faith and unfounded hope, but not action; kick him or her out.  Now.

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John Atcheson

John Atcheson

screen_shot_2017-07-26_at_9.09.47_pm.pngJohn Atcheson is author of the novel, A Being Darkly Wise, and a book on our fractured political landscape entitled, WTF, America? How the US Went Off the Rails and How to Get It Back On Track, both available from Amazon. Follow him on Twitter @john_atcheson

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