The secret to the NRA’s success, we are repeatedly told, is the fact that gun rights advocates are single issue voters, ready to set aside even economic self-interest in pursuit of their obsessive desire to own assault rifles. Fair enough. In a winner-take-all electoral system, single issue voting is one of the few ways to express cardinal rather than simply ordinal preference. I have a dream, and here it is. The only thing that can successfully counter a single-issue voting bloc is another single-issue voting bloc, especially a voting bloc that has not in the past voted at all but is now motivated to get out to the polls. The high school students’ gun control movement has the potential to be just such a counter-weight to the gun rights activists. Using social media, the students can communicate with an extremely broad segment of the 18-21 age population, historically the least likely to vote. If they really do mobilize, the idea of voting, and voting only for pro-regulation candidates, could easily go viral, tilting even solidly red districts blue. We shall see.
I do not speak, read, or write Korean, I have never been to the Korean Peninsula or even to Asia, and in the immortal words of Will Rogers, all I know is what I read in the papers, so take what follows with enough salt to satisfy a chef in a Chinese restaurant. I got my start in political activism sixty years ago with the campaign for nuclear disarmament. I wrote, spoke, marched, and protested in favor of getting rid of nuclear weapons, not merely limiting their possession to America, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain. Well, we failed big time, and the world is now awash in small, medium, and large fission, fusion, and dirty bombs capable of being delivered by everything from an intercontinental ballistic missile to a suitcase. By my count, there are at least nine countries that have workable nuclear weapons, the most recent of them being North Korea. Only one nation has actually used nuclear weapons in war, namely America, which, I think we can agree, somewhat limits its moral authority in this matter, though not of course, its presumption of moral superiority.
At the moment, one of the most urgent dangers of catastrophic [even if not nuclear] war is America’s bipartisan insistence that North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons is “unacceptable” whereas Pakistan’s, India’s, Israel’s, Russia’s, France’s, Great Britain’s, and China’s is not. [I leave to one side the possibility that Iran will develop nuclear weapons.] If America launches a pre-emptive attack on North Korea’s nuclear weapons sites, a million or more men, women, and children could die in the resultant war.
There now seems to be a genuine possibility that Trump will agree to North Korea’s continued possession of nuclear weapons in return for their agreement to discontinue further development of more sophisticated delivery systems and the regularization of relations with South Korea. This would be a triumph for North Korea, giving it everything it has sought for more than sixty years. Trump would trumpet the agreement as proof of his spectacular deal-making, and in all likelihood John Bolton would resign in outrage. One can but hope.
Meanwhile, Michael Cohen is going to be indicted. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.