Here’s a future scenario, one that could happen as soon as November 7th, 2012. The election returns are in and the Democrat - if it’s this year, that would be Barack Obama - wins the election by a slim but conclusive margin. In the small hours of November 6th, ordinary people in big and small towns find themselves out on their streets screaming, along with their neighbors, that the election was stolen and that “n____” will be taking away their guns and herding them into concentration camps within the week.
This is not far-fetched so far. This is reality in Glennbeckistan and Bachmannville and I fully expect that if Obama wins the election that right-wing mouths will be filled with fear-flecked foam.
Possibly, if the right-wing media has done their job too well, the scenario expands; the ordinary people rush into their houses and grab their NRA-guaranteed armaments, and flood en masse to the nearest liberal’s house, breaking in the door and spraying each room with round after round of semi-automatic ammunition. And the next house and the next. The school teacher’s house, the fire station, the judge, the gay couple down the street, anyone who has been identified as a potential enemy by Fox News or Rush Limbaugh. A Republican city council member or maybe the local pastor rushes out to beg the mob to stop. “Traitor!!” shrieks a woman, as she and the self-appointed militia spray him with bullets.
Mitt Romney comes on the television and disavows the killings, as the death toll mounts into the thousands and more, many from stray bullets that their fellow gunmen are painting their towns with. He limply asks his fellow conservatives to stay at home and let law enforcement do it’s job; he neglects to acknowledge that that his fellow Republicans have decimated local police ranks, and he doesn’t condemn the killings. Instead, “Armed terrorist groups” are blamed, and a rumor is cannily spread by the NRA that the National Guard is doing the killing. Instantly, anyone with a uniform is a new target - the undermanned police force, off-duty military, security guards, all un-prepared to face a growing armed mob.
Meanwhile, innocent people lay dead, men, women children, labeled by the mob as “libruls.” No one fought back. There was no gun fight in the living rooms or in front yards, because those who don’t hear the NRA’s clarion call to Arm and Resist are not prepared to fight their neighbors. This is America, after all. No, liberals are not stocking up on ammunition.
Maybe we should.
If you have made an innocent, reality based comment on any political story these days, you have likely been personally defamed and threatened by someone who ignores the article subject and goes directly for your jugular. No reasonable discourse is possible, we’ve all seen that happen over and over again. It mystifies us - how can they be so deluded, so angry, when their assertions are so obviously lies, planted by those who would profit from their fear. Even people we previously thought of as sensible, intelligent people get unhinged when Obama’s name is invoked.
And we back away and huddle together, sure that we are right about things, and hopeful that we have the votes to prevail. But even when we win, we might be losing. Too many Democratic politicians have completely given up on gun control and are not even calling for a renewal of a ban on assault weapons. The NRA is confident, powerful, and rich, and they write the gun laws. No, every right-wing-nut is guaranteed an arsenal of assault weapons for just this purpose, to fight back against an illegitimate government - it’s in the Constitution. No matter if it was elected by a majority of citizens - in their eyes, it’s illegitimate.
If you step away from the idea that the conservatives know what they are doing, and that the voters buying into their lies are stupid, there’s a compelling argument to be made. The Right Wing has created a monster, and hasn’t foreseen the consequences of inciting fear and then giving an impressionable populace the means to act on it. These people are happy to hate us, happy to kill us and in the moment, will gleefully spray a theater if it’s full of uppity feminists, liberal professors, gays, blacks, latinos, everyone who has been scapegoated by the right. In fact, James Holmes and Jared Loughner are embraced in some conservative circles. Maybe they are stockpiling those assault rifles for the right moment to take us all down.
Likely it’s not a conscious plan, and I doubt seriously that Boehner, the Koch Brothers or even Glenn Beck has imagined a worst-case scenario like the one I described. No, I’m not seeing a conspiracy here. But what they have set in motion can far exceed their expectations and not in a good way. Fighting in the streets is not a desirable outcome of anyone’s political strategy. But even the leaders of the French Revolution eventually were led to the guillotine.
I’m not seriously proposing that liberals start buying guns and stockpiling ammo. I doubt that would happen anyway, we generally prefer to bore our opponents to death during lengthy policy discussions. But I also don’t want to be in the position of staring down an AR-15 by a neighbor who takes his Second Amendment Solutions seriously. And never doubt that the NRA is perfectly happy for the occasional crackpot to murder your children in defense of their members' right to carry deadly force, for some future imaginary conflict with an evil president. 'Acceptable losses,' they admit to each other. 'Likely, those Batman fans deserved what they got.'
No, I'm not advocating that liberals arm themselves. Some right-wingers try to make the case that if some of the theater goers were carrying guns, they could have taken Holmes down. No, a gunfight in the movie theater is not something that should happen in our country. More importantly, a pistol against a semi-automatic rifle is not an equal fight. And in peacetime, with the crime rate way down, why do they even bring up these arguments? What are they afraid of? Maybe it's us.
I do think we should get off our butts and hound our hapless politicians until the worst of the assault weaponry is banned. I do think that a popular movement to discredit the NRA is in order, and I think it can be done, after what we've accomplished with Komen and the backlash to the GOP War on Women. Military armament does not belong in the hands of a peaceful citizenry, and we are only arming our executioners if we let this go on any longer. The Facebook campaign is mightier than the AR-15.