A sit-in on the House floor initially seems like the most un-Hillary thing conceivable — a point that was only underscored when Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren put in an appearance. Yet at least one of the measures they’re fighting for fits in perfectly with the call to return to “the spirit of 9/12” in the wake of the Orlando attack. Liberals once would have protested against dystopian Bush-era measures like the no-fly list, and now they’re nonviolently resisting in order to expand their scope.
This bill is the perfect distillation of the signature Clinton gesture: the “pivot.” The term has become a cliche meaning “move on to the next topic,” must as “deconstruction” means “close analysis” in popular usage. But the popular reception misses an important element — maintaining a foothold in one issue in order to swing your policy-leg (or whatever) onto an adjacent one. In this case, Democrats are “pivoting” from anti-terrorism into the vicinity of something like gun control. The result is a centrist pre-compromise that concedes the terms of debate to the “guns don’t kill people, people [specifically Muslim terrorists] kill people” crowd. A spoon full of racism makes the gun control go down.
Except it won’t, and everyone knows it. They are fighting to have an on-the-record vote. And the only purpose behind that can be that they are then able to tar their opponents with that vote in campaign ads. It’s a symbolic gesture to enable a symbolic gesture that they can use to show that they “fought for” a good policy (again, a symbolic gesture — “fighting for” is a substitute for winning, the political equivalent of a participation trophy).
Except it’s not even a good policy. Maybe with 20/20 hindsight it would have prevented this one individual massacre. Maybe he would have just found another way to get guns. I don’t know. But in the hypothetical situation where it miraculously passes, they’re setting themselves up for a big fall when the next attack happens — because suddenly the debate wouldn’t be about those mean Republicans in the NRA’s pocket, it would be about how the Democrats made big promises about gun control legislation but it didn’t work.
We’ve all heard of 11-dimensional chess — this is 11-dimensional idiocy. And again, it’s very much a return to the spirit of 9/12, where the Democrats’ brilliant plan was, “Hey, what if we took this illegitimate president whose brother stole the election for him and gave him literally everything he wants?”