After Newtown, Gauging Emotions' Pull In American Politics

A discussion in advance of President Obama's Hartford speech on gun control.

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Flickr Creative Commons, jareed
Bill Curry
Photo:Chion Wolf
After Newtown, Gauging Emotions' Pull In American Politics
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After Newtown, Gauging Emotions' Pull In American Politics

Most political arguments are about authority, in the sense of "Who's wielding it right now?" and "Where does it truly reside?" 

In pre-Enlightenment Europe, the authority of church and state were merged and there was therefore an easy answer. The King has the authority, because the King is right, and the King is right because he rules at God's pleasure. 
Part of the upheaval that led, eventually, to the founding of this country, was based on that notion that all people are endowed with the ability to perceive -- through reason, if you will -- what is right and what is wrong. And if your mind tells you the king is wrong and something else is right, go with your mind. 
It's less clear where an individual's emotions fit in, back in the 18th century. But today, emotions seem to rule many of our political choices. That's our topic today.  
You can join the conversation. E-mail or Tweet us @wnprcolin.



E-mail from John

I only caught the introduction of the topic before I had to return to work but it is a very interesting topic. The Newtown tragedy has put a spotlight on this issue and I can see both sides. As a parent I can't begin to understand what those families have had to deal with and I can see their focus on doing whatever can be done to curb future gun violence. Then as a citizen who has to deal with the laws written it is a different story since I have to comply with what is now legal. The difference is, I was legal before and had done everything I was supposed to do to be legal and I'm now finding that I now need to make changes to stay legal. While that can be considered an annoyance the penalties for not complying are extremely serious and carry mandatory sentencing for what just last week was not considered criminal.
While I can see the emotional why of the changes I do not see the need for the increase in the criminal penalties. The one thing that I see as a little disheartening is the that people who are law abiding are now being treated as threats to society. I'm sure you may disagree but the only people being affected by this new law are those who want to stay within the law.

E-mail from George

I think is was it JFK who said something like: "We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of fact."