As Democrats and Republicans fumble their way toward a Grand Bargain to avoid the fiscal cliff, the tragic shooting in Connecticut points to the need for another, more important compromise. As with the fiscal cliff talks, I’m under no illusion that my compromise will be implemented. But as with the fiscal cliff, we’ll learn a lot if we ask why such an obvious solution cannot get done.
If you’re an average American, you have strong feelings against half of this phrase: “pro life gun control.” Which half depends in large part if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. In light of what happened on Friday, Democrats are right to raise the question of gun control. But Republicans can’t help but notice the irony—the utter lack of self awareness—in Democrats who are rightly outraged at Friday’s gruesome killings by a stranger but would defend the right of those same children’s mothers to more gruesomely kill them in the womb.
So on behalf of the children—which is what both sides claim to care about—I offer the idea of a Grand Bargain. Republicans vote for gun control—even kick in the death penalty for good measure—if Democrats agree that it’s morally wrong, and should be illegal, for a mother to abort her child (except when necessary to save the life of the mother). Whichever side cannot agree to this compromise loses all moral authority to govern.
I like this compromise in part because both sides have much in common:
1. They both defend extreme positions, partial birth abortion on the left and the need to possess assault rifles on the right.
2. Both claim criminalizing their position would be difficult to implement: are we able to collect the more than 200 million guns that exist in our country vs. are we going to fill our jails with women who had abortions? The answer is No on both counts, but we could, as David Brooks mentioned, limit the number of bullets that exist in our land and we could, as everyone knows, punish doctors who perform illegal abortions.
3. Both sides realize that their view is increasingly difficult to defend. Ultrasounds have lowered the support for abortions, as even supporters now concede they should be rare. And school shootings have lowered support for the right to bear arms, for even gun owners have kids.
4. Both sides will say that the other position, not their own, is the problem that must be solved. Great! That is the beauty of this compromise. Each side can give up something they cherish in order to eliminate what they believe is a scourge on our kids. If they won’t do this, then one can only conclude that they love their freedom to abort or their freedom to bear arms more than they love their own children. Is that something they want to admit?
A side benefit of this compromise is that it will benefit our other Grand Bargain. If we can compromise to save our kids, then we’ll have more children to pay back all the money their grandparents already spent. Everyone wins, especially the children.
I understand the politics makes this compromise virtually impossible, but that’s another reason to get behind it. The sheer difficulty of this task supplies an opportunity to show our children how much we love them. Someday when they ask why we gave up our beloved rights to eliminate the evil on the other side, we can say we did it for them. After all we have stolen from them, don’t we owe them this much?