Cognitive Dissonance Dept.: Walker, other Wisconsin Repubs think conservative gun owners will have their backs | Wis.Community

Cognitive Dissonance Dept.: Walker, other Wisconsin Repubs think conservative gun owners will have their backs

[img_assist|nid=96002|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=216|height=162]Many progressives have spent much energy noting the enormous ambiguity in the Wisconsin Republican message on guns. That message, of course, is that it's now basically okay for citizens to carry concealed weapons into, among many other places, the State Capitol where Republican lawmakers work. Yet early in the year, Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP legislative leadership temporarily had metal detectors installed at Capitol entrances when protesters arrived to complain about the GOP union-busting bill and other goofball legislation. Keeping the metal detectors in place would kind of kill the concept of concealed carry, wouldn't it?

But in the knuckle-drag region of the Republican mind, there's apparently no inconsistency at all.

Many progressives have noted the enormous ambiguity in the Wisconsin Republican message on guns. That message, of course, is that it's now basically okay for citizens to carry concealed weapons into, among many other places, the State Capitol where Republican lawmakers work. Yet early this year, Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP legislative leadership temporarily had metal detectors installed at Capitol entrances when protesters arrived to complain about the GOP union-busting bill and other misguided legislation. Now the detectors are gone -- keeping them in place would kind of kill the concept of concealed carry, wouldn't it.

Evidently, the conventional wisdom among Republicans is that people who tend to want to carry guns are going to side politically with Republicans. They don't say that, but they must unconsciously or otherwise believe it, or else the Capitol would be a completely gun-free zone, the way it was when anti-GOP forces were pushing through the revolving doors. In their minds, it's not right-wing gun lovers who are the problem; it's lefties who protest against Republicans -- a physical threat to do harm, even, although most lefties don't care to carry guns and in fact think the concealed carry law is foolish in the extreme. Then again, maybe the GOP is now thinking that the pen-is-mightier-than-sword concept might actually have legs.

This GOP mindset is part and parcel of a wider fetish for authoritarianism: When reasoned public discourse fails to achieve your aims, talk up (and bring out) the non-figurative weaponry, identifying some enemies in the process. China's Mao said all power emanates from the barrel of a gun, and he was likewise authoritarian. But note that the guns actually need not be used; they need merely be omnipresent. It's still illegal to wave them around in a threatening or intimidating way, but concealed-carry gets around that little problem.

In short, your state government has now made it possible for you to be more fearful and intimidated all the time, which is just the way an authoritarian-minded "leader" would like to have you. The only thing we don't have to fear is fear itself. And if you end up being anxious enough to carry a gun yourself, then you will have met the enemy and he will be you.

The GOP, being an authoritarian organization, is very, very security-conscious. That's why Walker's security costs have skyrocketed. Ya never know what a crazed, angry peacemonger might try to do if he gets close enough. Granted that politicians of all stripes often receive threats, it seems modern Republicans feel the most victimized, even if they're the least assaulted. Why, a protester might take photographs of them! Or put a daisy into the barrel of a National Guardsman's rifle! Or even shout political slogans! Or try to register to vote! Intolerable! Dangerous!

Of course, most of the rest of us have discerned that vast majority of political gun assaults, such as the one that maimed Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), are committed by people from a way different political range than most lefties inhabit. That's why it's politicians left of center who most often tend to get themselves shot, sometimes even while they're standing on the legislative floor, as happened once right here in Wisconsin, decades ago.

MLK, JFK, RFK and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were not exactly conservatives. Nor was FDR, who narrowly missed being assassinated while visiting Chicago. And let's not forget the Timothy McVeigh types who like al Qaeda killed non-politicians just to make a political point. Now, it's true that some more extreme left-wing groups have used the language of violence on occasion, but the right-wingers outpoint the lefties there, too. And despite a few examples to the contrary, the overall evidence remains pretty compelling: Self-identified right-wingers tend to talk violence and resolve their political animus with gunplay a whole lot more often than do leftiies.

It's also the case that when lefties do go over the edge and become violent, it's sometimes because of agents provocateurs -- the very kind that Walker considered sending out when anticipating the Capitol protests.

So that, I submit, is why Wisconsin Republicans in general think they're safer now that total strangers with minimal or no training will be able to roam through many parts of the Capitol while packing hidden heat. The Republicans see armed conservatives as an extension of official state police protection that they have already strengthened, if only around their own bodies. What gun nut would shoot a Republican? History says gun nuts tend to reduce Republican opposition. So that is a good thing -- if, that is, you're a cognitively dissonant Republican who believes politics is merely war by other means.

Published

November 9, 2011 - 11:18am

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