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If we want any part of President Obama's initiatives described in his inaugural speech to become reality in the next four years, we'd better gear up and get ready to fight, because they're dog-whistling the troops, particularly on the topics of climate change and gun control, just like they did in 2009 with health care reform.
In 2009, we were caught unawares. That can't happen this time, at least not if we hold any hope of getting things done this time around. Conservatives are already launching the time-honored strategies of lies, inflammatory speech, and exaggeration to push back on any effort whatsoever to make progress on climate change and gun control.
Fox News led the parade Tuesday morning with the theme that climate change isn't real, beginning with Fox and Friends Tuesday morning, and continuing on with Rush Limbaugh pompously pronouncing it a "hoax."
Meanwhile, there's a rising anti-chorus over mild gun control measures which are long overdue, in which the same overarching themes employed in 2009 over health care reform are beginning to emerge. Some examples:
- In Ohio, state school board president Debe Terhar is defending her decision to share a Facebook photo of Hitler along with a message criticizing Obama's gun control proposals.
- NRA President Wayne LaPierre gave a fiery speech on Monday night (video above), where he claimed the only reason to maintain a national registry of gun owners is to "tax them or take them," and further claiming that the REAL motive was to leave guns in the hands of the wealthy and criminals.
- Anonymous has gotten in on the debate, using the Obama to Hitler comparison as well.
- Juan Williams, writing for Fox News, claims that gun control is now "central to Obama's legacy." That's a clear-cut call for conservatives to mobilize.
- Sheriffs in right-wing states are vowing to resist any efforts to implement gun control measures passed by Congress or tightened enforcement required by executive order.
- Now the far right wingers have declared 2/23/2013 a "Day of Resistance" over the proposed gun measures. Anyone remember the call for the "tea party" which supposedly arose from the grassroots? Yeah.
These should raise the hackles on everyone's neck as we're thrust back into the days of death panels and socialism, resplendent with Obama as Hitler images, cries of armed resistance, and more. Indeed, some conservatives have figured out a way to resurrect death panels in the context of gun control, by inventing the myth that Obamacare will require doctors to inquire about guns in the home.
There will be protests at town halls, there will be more astroturf organizations with names like Americans for Constitutional Solutions and the like, and there will be a steady drumbeat on the part of the right wing to systematically tear apart every effort to actually move America toward some semblance of civilization.
Not this time. We won the health care battle and lost the war in 2010. They don't give a damn about climate change and guns as much as they do about firing up their dispirited base in order to win some elections in 2014. The sooner we recognize it and push back, not by dignifying their accusations, but bringing our own arguments forth into the public square, the better.
To that end, the answer to the nonsense about climate change should be strong economic arguments for making the changes that will slow our contribution to climate change while building the economy. President Obama made that argument in his speech, when he said, "We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries. We must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure, our forests and waterways, our crop lands and snow capped peaks."
With regard to gun control, everyone seems very concerned with the rights of gun owners, and seems to think they trump everyone else's rights. How can the right wing, who claims to stand for the rights of innocents to life, tolerate dead children in a classroom? For those so devoted to the constitution, how can a right to life and liberty be trumped by one person's right to use a gun to take those?
Take the message back and make this an argument about the rights of every American to live in relative safety without the fear that their children and loved ones will be taken from them because there was no balance between the rights of gun owners and the rights of innocents.
Wayne LaPierre speaks for gun manufacturers, not gun owners. When he speaks of rights, he is speaking for the corporate persons who profit from the death and mayhem their products wreak on our society.
The bottom line here is that progressives have to take the offensive on these questions and get the public on our side before the wingers erode the support we've built up for both of these initiatives. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and Sandy Hook, more Americans are open to reasonable gun control measures and climate change initiatives than ever before. The right wing knows it, and they're going to use it. It's up to us to stop it before it starts.