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Carroll County Times Opinion

Dean Minnich: GOP partisans keep it simple, stupid | COMMENTARY

Connect the dots: This past week in Congress, Republicans and Democrats argued what’s more important, the right of civilians to have access to weapons and ammunition made for war, or the safety of the public to send their kids to school or the store, or just show their face on the street.

Gee, that’s a tough one for the GOP.

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Polls show that, overall, more than seven of 10 Americans think mass shootings could be prevented if a real effort was made, but 44 percent of Republicans say murdering kids and shoppers is a price of freedom. Six of 10 Republicans prefer arming schoolteachers after training them at the FBI Academy. Republicans say the real solution would be more mental health screenings.

If they really believe that, I’d start with screening the Republicans.

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Hearings have begun on the Jan. 6 attempted coup that resulted in an assault by a mob on the Capitol, while other Republican functionaries in four swing states plot ways to put their own vote counters in place to steal the next election without having to send a mob. Why send thugs to change the count when you can cheat the system right at the polls?

Meanwhile, polls show that in Maryland, Trump would win an election over Gov. Larry Hogan by 2 to 1.

Maryland, my Maryland.

In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, the polarization of Americans is a two-part horror story, and the scariest part of it all is that it’s supposed to be that way. The consequences were underestimated, but the division of powers was planned in the formation of a government with three branches, each of which played an equal role in making laws and then protecting them from the inconsistencies of changing leadership.

Representative government means elected representatives and senators defend the interests of their constituencies at the grassroots level and vote to make or change laws withing the framework of a less pliable constitution. The Supreme Court sees to it that the president, serving as executive officer of the government, puts the plan to work, even if Congress makes the plan but fails to approve funding it.

Whenever there is a disagreement, it signals a conflict of definitions of rights and responsibilities. Over time, Americans have become very good at demanding their own rights even as they shed any responsibilities for observing rights of others.

Most people are as interested in how government operates as they are knowing the number of beans in a soup. They settle for “keep it simple, stupid.” That is, they call on absolutist partisanship from those who watch the pot in government offices, from town halls to Washington. Reasonableness is not as valuable as winning for the party and those who donate money to campaigns. Voters are easy to please. Just tell them what they want to hear.

Republican senators are willing to vote to change gun laws in the wake of recent slaughters. To show how responsive they can be to mass shootings with high-velocity ammunition fired out of high-capacity magazines by teenage nuts, they agree to what they like to call the most significant changes in gun laws in 20 years.

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What changed was that more money will be sent from Washington to their states to encourage better background screening, the taking of guns from “red flag” owners who should not have weapons, and providing mental health programs.

What did not change was raising the age of eligibility to buy certain guns and high-capacity magazines, use of war-class killer ammo that tears bodies to shreds, and the attitude of those who think the carnage is the price we pay for living in such a freedom-loving country.

You should thank your elected GOP officials for the effort. Send them a nickel for their next election campaign.

Dean Minnich writes from Westminster.


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