The recent school shooting in Nashville, which is just the latest of too many school shootings and mass shootings in this country, has left me with a conclusion I did not want to reach. It makes me sad and angry to think about it. However, I can’t see around it.

Are you ready for it?

I have concluded our elected officials don’t really want to solve the problem of mass shootings. They’re raking in too much political hay from grandstanding about them and blasting the “other” party for what they want to do and/or their lack of action.

I know that’s a terrible thing to say. However, look what happens whenever one of these events happen. We get lots of grandstanding, yelling, screaming and righteous indignation. There are also fundraising pleas from organizations and political action committees seeking to fight whatever the other side wants to do. In the end, however, little or nothing gets done.

If they were really serious, they would stop with the rhetoric and get to work. The President, the leadership of Congress, and the leaders of both parties would set up a bipartisan panel to look at the issue, get testimony from experts, law officers and victims, and try to create a bipartisan action plan based on the conclusions they have reached.

Fat chance of that ever happening with our current people in Washington.

That’s how American politics are these days. Our elected representatives have no real desire to solve problems. They’d rather make a lot of noise about them so they can get their donations while doing absolutely nothing. The only exception is they will act if it makes them look good to their constituents and makes their opponents look bad.

Our politicians make every issue a political issue and use them to divide us. An example of this was the nation’s response to the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. It should have been treated as a public health issue. It was treated as a political issue with all kinds of grandstanding.

The result? Over 106.2 million Americans have had the virus, and 1.16 million have died. Those are the highest numbers for any country in the world.

The American border with Mexico is another example. We could have a just and fair border and immigration policy, but the very people who could create such a policy are the people who are making political hay from grandstanding about the situation as it is.

One of my all-time favorite TV series was a British satire series from the early 1980s, “Yes, Minister!” and its follow-up, “Yes, Prime Minister!” It followed the misadventures of Jim Hacker, a well-intentioned but not very bright Member of Parliament who became a cabinet minister when a new government was elected.

In his department, Hacker often clashes with the lead civil servant, Sir Humphrey Appleby, who appears to have made it his life mission to make sure nothing ever changes or gets done.

In one episode, Hacker is delighted to hear he’s been appointed to head a special commission to create a coordinated transportation plan for the United Kingdom. Sir Humphrey informs Hacker such commissions were formed when the government needed to demonstrate it was doing something. As for a coordinated transportation plan, Sir Humphrey said that would never happen.

The reason such a plan would never come about, Sir Humphrey said, was because the very people and agencies who could create such a plan and carry it out were the same people who benefitted the most from keeping the current system as it was.

This series may have been British satire, but there was a lot of truth in it for us Yanks. I can see this same principle in so many areas of American politics.  Clearly, there are big political bucks to be made from grandstanding and getting nothing done.

This won’t change until the American people start holding our politicians accountable and stop rewarding them for their grandstanding. Actions should speak a lot louder than words.

Perhaps we Americans should look somewhere other than Washington for solutions, or most state capitols, for that matter. The grandstanding and lack of action we see in Washington has spread to the states, and many state legislatures have become almost as useless as Congress in actually addressing the issues.

Maybe there are things that can be done on a local level, beyond preparing law enforcement agencies to deal with mass shootings. This is America. There is likely no shortage of ideas out there. If Washington and our politicians won’t deal with problems, it will be up to us to deal with them. If we have to bypass them, then that’s just how it is.

Perhaps we should reward our grandstanding politicians by showering them with bricks rather than awarding them with donations. That might get the point across.  


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