A radio talk show host expressed his views on the concept of “limited government,” and a caller insisted that the phrase “limited government” was a right-wing dog whistle for racism. The host asked for an explanation and the caller said, “cutting government services disproportionately harmed minorities and that was the intention of ‘limited government.’”
It was apparent the caller confused “less government” with “limited government” because the radio host never advocated ending federal programs. Actually, the entire premise of the radio discussion was framed by a previous caller that insisted the federal government needed to increase its efforts to end gun violence.
The radio debate took place days after the deadliest mass shooting in American history occurred in Las Vegas, killing 58 and injuring over 500.
It was in this context that the radio host cautioned the previous caller against granting consent to the government to restrict a constitutional right. The radio host suggested government needed limits so it didn’t arbitrarily infringe on individual liberty.
Now, the caller that associated “limited government” with racism ignored how the radio host steered the discussion from “limited government” to government limitations. From the latter perspective, the questions are what can government policy prevent and what can’t it. If government policy can’t prevent something, no policy should be made because the unintended consequences of “legislative overreaction” are difficult to reverse.
But the wishful thinkers who were morally outraged by the mass shooting in Las Vegas kept calling the radio show to explain why more federal gun legislation was needed immediately.
Recently, Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.), a gun control advocate his entire career, insisted that his fellow Democrats stay away from gun control. Schumer wants the Democrats to mount serious opposition to Republican proposals to cut tax rates for the highest income bracket, oppose tax increases on middle-class earners, fight proposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, and insist that tax reform does not add to the deficit.
Schumer believes it’s smarter to focus on economics instead of gun control going into the midterm elections. (Democrats have 10 seats to defend in states won by Trump, in many of these states guns are a big part of local culture.) But gun control activists are upset with Schumer’s strategy.
The director of 1Pulse4America, a gun-violence prevention group created after the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, said, “Democrats need to find courage and learn to speak to the issue. There’s a lot of anger in this movement about the response from the Democrats right now. People think it’s totally inadequate.”
But political strategist David Saunders stated polls may show strong support for various gun control proposals, but the minority that oppose these measures have more political clout. They are more motivated because they are single issue voters.
Senator Schumer’s problem isn’t Republican control of the legislator.
It’s the inadequacy of moral outrage behind gun control. It doesn’t convert into a monopoly of single issue voters because the outrage is temporary, so as far as Schumer is concerned, gun control can wait until the next mass shooting after the midterms.
(J. Pharoah Doss is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
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