Sun, Apr

Biden Tells the Gun Nuts to Shove It


GELFAND’S WORLD - There has already been a lot of coverage on Joe Biden's State of the Union speech, so there is no need to rehash it. But there was one aspect that has not been getting the kind of coverage that it should have. Joe Biden readjusted the boundary lines of the Democratic Party coalition by telling the gun nuts to shove it. In so doing, he made clear that there will no longer be even the slightest attempt to win votes from those single-issue voters whose obsession is their unlimited access to firearms.

You might summarize this approach as a rejection of those who like to quote the Second Amendment as their watchword, and then to cite Supreme Court edicts that go in their favor.

Ordinarily, this is not the way you do politics. Building a winning coalition involves getting votes from as many people as possible, which means, in practice, reaching out to as broad a coalition as you can. There have been plenty of hunters and those who engage in sport-shooting who voted for a Democrat from time to time, so it didn't usually make sense to antagonize them.

But in the State of the Union speech, Joe Biden drew the line at assault weapons and large magazines, calling for government regulation of both. This was as clear a statement as you are likely to hear that he was telling the gun lobby where to go, and that place is not the Democratic Party.

I tend to think of Biden as principled, but I do not think of him as politically foolish. What was he doing? One possible explanation is that Biden was reaching out to a group of people who might join the Democratic Party coalition in future years.

Who are they? They are the victims of shootings, the students who have to live under the threat of the "active shooter," the parents of all those school children, and coming generations who will grow up under those conditions. They are the rest of us, the ones who hear about the mass shootings twice a day. They are the people who watch the daily news stories about the latest shooting and have the ability to empathize with the survivors.

In brief, they are the people who have the ability to learn from other peoples' mistakes.

The new Democratic coalition is available to the former students who survived the Florida school shooting and became leaders in the gun control movement. The coalition is available to college students who are made aware of the term "live shooter" on a daily basis. The potential members of the new coalition are there for the taking, available to anyone who can show the leadership and steadiness that they crave.


We have just passed the second anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine by the Russians. The fact that Ukraine lasted more than 3 days, and then continued to last more than 3 months, should have said it all. The western allies poured assistance into Ukraine in the form of ammunition and machinery. Unfortunately for Ukraine, and a terrible blot on American history, the Republicans in congress are supporting the Russian invaders by withholding aid. How can Republicans who claim to support South Korea turn around and support the side which has allied itself with the North Korean dictatorship? How come nobody is asking them?

This is also the 4th anniversary, give or take a week, of the pandemic becoming official in this country. It has taught us something about how far advanced molecular biology has gotten. But it has also taught people (some of them not too well) that rejecting science can get you killed. Covid is still killing Americans, but luckily at a hugely reduced rate.

Other takes from the Biden speech

There were a lot of things of note in Joe Biden's State of the Union speech. Nervous liberals were terrified that Biden would limp into the chamber, ramble on about nothing in particular, and then have some sort of a seizure the way Mitch McConnell has been doing. Instead, we got a version of Biden we have seen before, but this time giving himself a bit more free rein. He made his strongest points simply by quoting Donald Trump directly. What sane, normal person could fail to be concerned when hearing them?

On a night where Biden had to show strength and stamina, he began by essentially shouting his lines. And he kept it up for an hour.

Perhaps Biden's strongest moment came when he addressed the Supreme Court directly. He also addressed the American people in that same moment, when he asked us to give him a congressional majority so that he could deliver on a promise to bring back the policy of Roe v Wade.

And that part of the speech signified another group Biden is willing to give up in his redrawing of party boundaries -- the anti-abortion group. It's clear that the more politically minded in the anti-abortion coalition realize the plank they are walking out on, witness their immediate caving on the in vitro fertilization (IVF) issue. If an embryo is a human life in utero or in a fallopian tube, then it must also be human life when it is in a vat of liquid nitrogen. In protecting IVF and the clinics who engage in it, the Republicans are admitting, however unwillingly, that a fertilized egg is not entirely or exactly a fully formed human being. If they really had believed that part, they should have opposed IVF all along.

(Bob Gelfand writes on science, culture, and politics for CityWatch. He can be reached at [email protected].)