As I write this, it looks like Raphael Warnock has won a U.S. Senate in Georgia, while the race between Republican David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff remains too close to call. Who’s to blame? Fingers are being pointed at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for thwarting a vote on $2000 stimulus checks shortly before Election Day, Kraken theorists like Lin Wood and Sidney Powell who encouraged voters to stay home, President Donald Trump for bashing the Republican governor and secretary of state while also embracing the idea that the presidential election in November had been stolen and the voting process could not be trusted; as well as Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger themselves, for allowing the fraud to continue with the Senate elections.
In truth, there’s enough blame to go around that the various parties will simply keep pointing the finger at others rather than accept any responsibility themselves. In my opinion, though, the lion’s share of the problem rests at the feet of the president and those supporters of his who encouraged Georgia voters to stay home and not cast a vote.
If Democrats do end up taking both seats, which seems likely, the results of the Senate elections are going to have a huge impact on the chances of anti-gun legislation (more on that in a moment). Before the first background check or gun ban bill is even heard in committee, however, the Senate chamber is going to be the scene of the next act in the self-destruction of the Republican Party, and that too is going to have a huge impact in our ability to defend against some of the expected legislation.
President Trump has made clear that any Republican who doesn’t try to challenge the results of the Electoral College is going on his enemies list, and son Eric made the threat even more explicit on Tuesday night.
This guarantees that over the next couple of years the Right is going to be waging two political wars; one with Democrats and one with itself. I won’t attempt to predict exactly how the fight will play out (at least not in this post), but as Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” A Republican civil war is coming, but I cannot tell you how long it will last. Politically speaking, both sides are likely to lose, at least as long as Democrats maintain their own fragile coalition.
I truly believe that if Donald Trump had won a second term, the Left would be in roughly the same place as the Republicans are today. The divide between the progressives and the socialists, already on display in the criticism of Biden’s establishment cabinet picks, would have caused the party to fracture in the stress of an election loss. Virginia congresswoman Abigail Spanberger and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would be fighting for the future of the party, with AOC vowing to fundraise for socialist candidates in every Democratic primary in 2022.
The biggest difference if the script was flipped is that Joe Biden doesn’t hold as much sway over Democrats as Trump does over Republicans (or at least a good chunk of them). Sleepy Joe is seen by most Democrats as a placeholder; the establishment face that wouldn’t scare voters away, but not the Moses who’s going to lead the Left to the promised land of utopian socialism.
There are some on the Right, of course, who absolutely see Trump in messianic terms, and they will brook no weakening of the faith. Stray from the Path and you are ex-communicated, and if you’re a politician there’s the promise of a primary challenge in your next election. For some politicians that will be enough to keep them in line. Others, not so much.
There are some Republicans (in both factions) who believe the party needs a cleansing. A political enema, if you will, to flush out the waste in the GOP. This intra-party fight is going to play out over the next two years, and the biggest threat to gun owners is that a “centrist” bloc of House and Senate members from both the Democrat and Republican party become the decisive force in Congress. Would they support Biden’s gun ban and compensated confiscation plan? I don’t know. Would they back a universal background check bill? I think that’s a far more likely possibility, at least as a first step.
Could they get to 60 votes, which is what is needed in the Senate for cloture? Possibly, though at the moment I’m more concerned about Democrats using parliamentary games to attach gun control measures to must-pass bills and through processes like reconciliation that only require a bare majority to pass. There’s also the possibility of Democrats nuking the filibuster, even though at least two Democrats have gone one the record to say they wouldn’t support that extraordinary move. Given the stresses that our republic is under, I put even less stock than usual in the promises of a politician, but I’ll be delighted if my skepticism proves unwarranted.
The federal legislative threat to our Second Amendment rights just went from Defcon 3 to Defcon 2, and once we see how the power structure in the Senate is going to play out it could easily drop to Defcon 1. Despite all that divides us, no matter how repugnant the members of the two factions find each other; gun owners and Second Amendment supporters are going to have to work together to defend our rights.
That includes supporting organizations that are engaged in lawsuits that will eventually be presented to the Supreme Court, working with your state-level 2A groups (and doing your homework to know which ones are effective), helping local ranges to promote events for new and would-be gun owners of all kinds, and even working with those we hope get primaried in 2022 if it helps push back against the Biden/Harris anti-gun agenda.
I was going to end on that optimistic note, but I’m leaving out another factor that would increase the chances of gun control passing in Congress; widespread or large-scale political violence. Pushing hard for gun control is a political risk at the moment, especially given the number of new gun owners, but just as support for gun control spikes after a mass shooting, large-scale acts of political violence will be used by that “moderate” bloc I mentioned to call for as many “common sense” gun control proposals as possible. In politically charged moments even those who generally support the Second Amendment can go weak-kneed, and the bloc could add to their numbers at least temporarily.
I’m not hoping to see that kind of violence at all, but I can’t say that I would be surprised if we did, and I suspect many Americans feel the same way. I think we’re in for some challenging times ahead, and that goes for far more than just our Second Amendment rights.