Most can sense the unease and uncertainty all around us. Still, we’re not quite free from a pandemic that continues to make people quite ill. We have rising interest rates. Inflation and gas prices through the roof. A major war in Ukraine impacting the whole world. Water shortages – and mandated cutbacks. Homelessness, overflowing and unavoidable in our everyday lives. Mass shootings are everywhere and nearly every day. Drug overdoses remain unabated. Health continues its unprecedented costliness.
And yet, in all this, businesses remain so busy our traffic is gridlocked. “We’re hiring” signs are everywhere with starting wages higher than ever. If you want a job, you have your choice of dozens.
Are we going forward or are we going backward? Or are we just treading water, waiting for a giant shoe to drop?
Don’t worry, we will get through. We always do. But this time is different than before. This time, time is no longer on our side, and we’ve got to get past the culture wars that divide us and get to productive problem solving.
It’s an amazing phenomenon in American politics that we can be surrounded by so many very real challenges and opportunities – and still, we’re drawn to fight two culture war issues that are dragged out and whipped up to frenzy every election cycle.
Women’s health rights and firearm management. Known provokingly in culture wars as gun control and abortion. Over and again. And health rights become “abortion” and firearm management becomes, menacingly, “gun control.” (Funny, does anyone want gun “uncontrol”?)
These are like shiny objects spun before our eyes, distracting us from the wider issues we face. We can argue forever over women’s health rights and firearm management – and America will slowly decay from lack of direction, investment, and real-world planning for a better future.
We’re out of time, and the sheer body count tells us we must get to common-sense ground on firearm management. Compassion and common sense tell us we must consider women’s rights and health in reproductive matters. We must compromise, get to sound agreements, make the changes, and move on from these perpetual fights.
It’s basic: No one WANTS abortions. No one hopes for them. Yet, contraception and early-stage pregnancy decisions remain a vastly personal, intimate, women’s health concern.
Reasonable people can’t mandate a rape victim, an incest victim, a violence victim, an impoverished woman, an early teen – forced pregnancy and birthing. This is no one’s choice but the woman’s. And reasonable people can’t mandate forced birth should the woman be carrying an unviable embryo, or one stricken with terrible disease. Whose choice is this, but the mom’s? Come on.
We can and should have common-sense laws governing the protection of viable pregnancies past reasonable terms. As every other advanced country has done, let’s accept reasonable, compassionate, medically sound regulations and once and for all, move beyond this issue.
And today, mass shootings have accelerated and are terrorizing vast swaths of America. While we’re arguing about abortion, living children in America are dying more from gunshots than any other cause. American kids are getting slaughtered. Grocery shoppers, getting mowed down. Church goers, blown to heaven. Random street shootings in cities everywhere, every day.
Reasonable people say, “Something has to change.” Eighty percent of Americans and a super majority of gun owners agree that gun proliferation is out of hand. We can agree that 18-year-olds have no sound reason to own AR-15-type weapons. Firearm management is reasonable if we are reasonably thinking people.
Here too, we must just get to common sense, pass common-sense regulations, and move on to pressing issues determining our future. Firearm management is easy: Assault weapons are military-grade weapons and should be removed from public circulation and reserved for the military. And we enforce reasonable background checks and licensing for everything else. There’s no need to “come take away” self-protection weapons or sports weapons. The Second Amendment is interpreted to protect that. Still, common-sense firearm management must be accepted in this modern, largely metropolitan world of 2022.
Let’s agree to sane, pragmatic solutions. Something actionable for real results, solving these forever fights, once and for all. We have plenty of other issues to consume our time.
Firearm management and women’s health rights shouldn’t be our never-ending political distraction. It’s time America to constructively compromise and move on to other giant concerns:
Let’s build water management and delivery systems. Let’s modernize water rights laws. We can solve our water problem working together.
And let’s fix homelessness. Plaguing every large city in America, we must muster the resolve to powerfully fix this problem, affirmatively, compassionately, quickly and completely.
What really matters to people today? It’s homelessness, water management and transportation infrastructure. All fixable if we finally compromise and cooperate.
We’ve got the money. For once, that’s not the problem.
We’re never going to agree on everything. So, let’s mostly agree on the most important things, and build a better California and America for today and our future.
California, America, get back to common sense. Bite down, compromise, and build forward, actionably and productively.
Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.