To my gun-owning friends: The dam is bursting

by Guest Blogger Mark Amidon

Anyone who has known me for more than two conversations knows that I don’t believe much in the efficacy or desirability of Big Government Programs. “Gun control” would be one of them. But we live in a system with many democratic elements, which means that when there’s a big enough idea out there, it’s going to find its way into legislation.

The NRA in particular has devolved over the decades from a gun-owners’ club (I remember Eddie the Eagle) to a shill for the gun manufacturers. They have put up a fairly solid wall and bought a lot of legislators to keep any notion of gun control out of the regulations. In many aspects of our politics, “compromise” is such a dirty word that no negotiation has been taking place at all.

 Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., holding a filibuster over the need for the Senate to address gun laws

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., holding a filibuster over the need for the Senate to address gun laws

This is turning a complex, nuanced situation into a binary (“black or white”) one. By opposing any “erosion” of gun-ownership rights, you (or your lobbyists) have drawn the proverbial line in the sand, and held fast and strong for decades. You’ve built a huge dam to hold back the waters of control.

Here’s the thing: dams burst. By holding back against compromise, you have created an uncompromising situation. You have accidentally created an environment where more and more people outside your “gun culture” are no longer willing to live and let live. You don’t have to worry about your more strident opponents anymore; you have to worry about everyone in the undecided middle of the bell curve. Those are the folks who always wind up being the “swing vote”.

The rhetoric has been “Big Government is coming to take your guns!!!”, but that didn’t actually have support in the middle of the bell curve. Things like keeping guns away from the mentally ill, guns away from parolees, guns away from “terrorists”; those are what had widespread support. But the gun lobby held fast against that. And built up pressure behind the dam.

You know what’s going to finally enable Big Government to take your guns? The critical mass behind the dam. By not compromising on a political point, you have opposed actions which wouldn’t actually compromise your core belief in self-protection, or even having cool toys. If you don’t help draft legislation which will actually address the biggest concerns (a “floodgate” in your dam, to extend the analogy), that dam is going to burst.

Figure out which of your principles are actually not subject to compromise, and then see which proposals actually don’t compromise them. And don’t let the shills tell you which they are.


Mark Amidon is a small-‘l’ libertarian who keeps getting mistaken for liberal or conservative by conservatives and liberals, respectively. While holding anarchy as a lofty ideal, he nonetheless appreciates Hobbes’s “Leviathan”, and is more a data-driven being than an ideologue.

Bernie Sanders is not “The One”

And neither was Barack Obama.

Many of my liberal friends seem to be falling into two categories:  Either Bernie Sanders is the savior we’ve all been waiting for, or he’s a fraud and real liberals should be supporting the Green Party candidate instead.*

The answer is between the two extremes.

Nobody is perfect. There’s plenty of stuff about Obama I disagreed with when he was running (and through his Presidency). But he was clearly the better choice of those who had the possibility of winning the election.

If you refuse to support the best candidate who can win because they are not pure enough, you’re going to end up disappointed a lot.

As I’ve said here many times, politics is the art of compromise. I’d rather compromise and get 50% of what I want than be stubborn and get 0%. If you don’t understand that, you will lose. Over and over again.

This is the main problem with the Tea Party extremists on the right — they cannot understand that reasonable people can differ with them, and as a result, our government gets very little done these days because they hold their breath until they turn blue instead of working to accomplish some of their goals. They may win the lower races, but they’re never going to win the Presidency.

The left’s version of the Tea Party is not much better. They demand purity, and thus throw their vote toward Ralph Nader or some other third party, which only helps those on the right win elections.

Some people are just blind followers. Their candidate (or religious leader or political viewpoint or favorite band or preferred sports team…) is perfect, and anyone who doesn’t see that is just plain wrong and must be insulted. It’s impossible to discuss the good and bad points with these people.


*Then there are my liberal friends who are supporting Hillary Clinton, but the attitude I get from them is more of a resigned “Well, I think she can win” vibe;  I don’t sense a lot of enthusiasm there.

The Left Wing’s Tea Party

Liberals who say things like “There is no difference between Obama and Bush” are the left’s version of the Tea Party — radicals who think that compromise is evil and you have to be completely pure or else you’re “one of them.”

They are just as impossible to debate as the Tea Party extremists who vilify any conservative who dares to think that maybe evolution is real or that perhaps we should do something to help

One of the reasons we are so divided as a nation is because we demand that everyone agree with us 100% or else they are the enemy. There is no room for compromise, there is no room for reasoned debate.

I’ve been arguing with some liberals lately about this, and they are treating me as if I am not on their side. When I say “I would love for Bernie Sanders to be elected but if he runs as an independent, I will vote for the Democrat” suddenly I become “one of them” — clearly, I support the terrible economic and foreign policies of those in power.

Despite everything I have always stood for, despite all I have written here in opposition to that very concept, my desire to not cast a protest vote and thus allow the Republicans to control all three branches of government is seen as a sign that I am merely supporting the status quo instead of being a reasonable attempt to prevent more harm from coming to our country.

I’m not pure enough for them.

But as I have said before, politics isn’t perfect. We don’t always get the candidate we want so we have to choose the better of the choices. The only time in my life where the Presidential candidate I supported in the primaries got the nomination was with Obama. Every other time, I ended up voting for the Democrat simply because he was better than the Republican (with the exception of 1980 where I voted for a third party. Never again.).

If that makes me “part of the problem” in your eyes, so be it. Get used to never getting what you want.

You will never get everyone in America to agree with you. Politics is the art of compromise. I’d rather compromise and get 50% of what I want than be stubborn and get 0%.*

Demanding absolute purity is what the Tea Party does. Let’s not use them as our template.

* And just to prevent the inevitable debate that happens whenever I say this, I am talking about compromising political issues, not compromising your ethics.