The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Politics

April 11, 2013

Gun debate shows that even in a democracy, a passionate minority can defeat the majority

(Continued)

“The GOP leadership continues to be shackled to old positions that are no longer important to a majority of voters,” Lombardo said. “Ninety percent of these Republicans who oppose gun restrictions that are widely supported by most voters come from strongly conservative districts.”

“Not enough Republicans come from swing districts,” Lombardo said.

Lehane said there have been other times when the nation’s political system got out of step with majority opinion. In the 1950s and ‘60s, he said, support for civil rights legislation was thwarted by an odd-bedfellows Democratic Party heavily influenced by Southern conservatives, some of them segregationists.

The shock of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, plus President Lyndon Johnson’s persuasive skills and, ultimately, a political realignment that gave Republicans control of the South, brought U.S. policy more in line with mainstream beliefs, Lehane said.

Now, he said, it may take “some type of significant external event,” such as an economic collapse, coupled with effective leaders and a motivated public to put public policy more in sync with public opinion.

But with Republicans and Democrats responding mainly to their ideological bases, Lehane said, “instead of moving to the 50-yard line, both sides are sprinting to their end zones.”

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