Barack Obama, Kevin McCarthy, and why we should politicize everything

Let’s use the gun issue as an example. Every time there’s a mass shooting, gun advocates say, “Now is not the time to politicize this.” In other words, let’s not translate the events of the world into the political realm, where they might influence the choices we make. Let’s not look at how public policy affects people’s lives; let’s not consider whether we might do things differently; let’s not introduce legislation, or point out where the parties stand, or heaven forbid encourage voters to make their choices based on where politicians stand on this issue.

But of course that’s exactly what we should do, and when our attention to a particular issue is roused, that’s precisely the time to address it through our political processes. After a shooting is precisely the time to politicize the gun issue, just as after a flood it’s a good time to make disaster preparedness political so we might save more lives and property the next time.

That isn’t to say that in our haste we can’t make mistakes, because we can and do. But often, the lack of politics is what keeps problems festering. Politics is how we take isolated events and conditions, like an incident of mass murder, and connect them to something broader so that change can happen.