One of the reasons I am most excited and most dread the prospect of an election pitting Senator Elizabeth Warren against President Donald Trump is that it would reveal exactly what kind of leader we want.
Do we want someone willing to present thoughtful, comprehensive plans for public debate or a shameless huckster who seems to earnestly believe that simply calling the ideas that flit through his mind like those of a goldfish “the best plan ever” is sufficient consideration to enact massive social change?
It’s exciting because one choice represents what our nation desperately needs, and it’s terrifying because the other represents what we seem to want.
I’m not going to delve into the specifics of Warren’s incredibly detailed plan, but its key components represent a much-needed shift in national gun policy. Her plan moves beyond the most common-sense reforms that most Democrats agree on, like universal background checks, red flag laws, and spending money to research the epidemic of gun violence in this country to address civil and criminal liability for CEOs and gun dealers who break the law, buyback programs for weapons that should be off the streets, and establishing a real waiting period for gun purchases.
You might hate elements of this plan, thinking some go too far or that other elements are simply not strong enough, but how much better for the country would it be if we could discuss policy at this level of specificity rather than hurling invective and generalizations at one another?
Somehow—maybe it’s cable news, maybe it’s Twitter, maybe it’s campaign strategists—we seem to have given up the notion that campaigns should be about more than buzzwords and extremist rhetoric; they should be about competing plans for improving our communities and nation.
The simple truth, despite the overheated rhetoric on both sides, is that we are neither going to ban private ownership of guns nor permit an entirely unregulated market, and continuing to imagine that angry catastrophizing will either represent the views of most Americans or lead to fewer gun deaths will do anything other than move the needle on cable news ratings undermines good public policy.
No right in the Bill of Rights comes without nuance and restrictions. Can we please move the debate to where those restrictions should be on the Second Amendment?
Love or hate Warren’s policy prescriptions for gun violence and the other issues facing the nation, but you have to admit that her focus on policy over posturing and results over ratings might just be what this country needs to get back to a functioning form of government, one in which Congress and the President actually serve their constitutional functions to provide for the general welfare of the United States.
For all the talk about what the Founding Fathers wanted for this nation, we seem to have lost sight about what they seemed to believe in most: the idea that reasoned debate, based on evidence and analysis, would make a republican form of government better than the whims of monarchs. Let’s honor that idea and get back to debating policies like the one Warren presented, both to reduce the staggering number of gun deaths in the United States and to improve the odds that we can debate more of pressing issues we face.