Long before the Parkland massacre most Americans agreed that mass shootings were intolerably frequent. After Parkland the sentiment has reached a fever pitch. The time for real action has come.
And there are sensible preventive measures that can and should be taken. Mass shootings are not natural phenomena or an unavoidable fact of life, like Florida hurricanes. Other developed countries don’t suffer mass shootings nearly as frequently, or on the same scale, as America.
Indeed, there are reasonable gun measures most Americans agree with—background checks, curtailment of assault style weapons, and elimination of bump stocks, among others. Based on recent polling data, these measures should have broad bipartisan support from elected representatives.
And yet they don’t. Far from.
So why can’t our representatives agree on even widely supported gun measures? Even here in Florida where I live and where the mass shootings in Parkland, and before it Orlando, took place.
It’s because the two-party system is broken and has been for some time. Parkland merely shined a glaring spotlight on just how irreparably broken it is.
The parties are increasingly dominated by their extreme far left and far right, with their positions mirroring the rigid absolutism and inflexibility of these two extremes. A fact exemplified by the gun debate.
The Democrat Party has taken the position that private gun ownership is dangerously backwards with no place in modern society, and the Second Amendment an archaic relic that should go the way of the dinosaurs. For Republicans, the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms is fundamental to freedom, expansive, and inviolable—even classroom teachers should carry guns!
These extreme positions persist even though most Americans occupy the center on the issue: guns can and should be reasonably restricted, but Americans have a Second Amendment right to lawfully own certain guns for protection.
But on the gun issue, like so many others, the far right and far left make any compromise—however reasonable—impossible between the two parties. As any concession is deemed traitorous—resulting in punishment, often in the form primary challenges. A fact that special interests, like the NRA and others, cunningly exploit to keep the two parties beholden to them. This growing extremism is also why party membership is rapidly shrinking and why most Americans now claim no party affiliation, as people increasingly find both parties wholly unrepresentative of their views and values.
So, the question begs, if the two parties are increasingly unrepresentative of most Americans and can’t manage to enact even the most sensible widely supported measures to protect their citizens and children from mass shootings—why should the two-party system continue in America?
It shouldn’t. It can’t.
Parkland has shown us why more than ever a strong new party is necessary.