Glenn Reynold's writes that the NRA convention was cheerier this year than he remembers it being a decade ago when the Democrats were trying their darndest to confiscate every gun in the country. This turnaround is a great example of how our two-party political system is supposed to work.
I was struck by the contrast this time around. People seemed much happier, and more optimistic. Most, I think, expected that the Democrats would retake the White House in the fall, but they didn’t seem to expect a return to the Clinton gun-grab efforts.
It’s easy to see why. Hillary is now going out of her way to explain what a hunter she’s always been, and how much she values gun rights. Obama is tagging along as best he can, talking about the Second Amendment and the Constitution, though his record as a Director for the virulently anti-gun Joyce Foundation makes that even less persuasive than Hillary’s attempts. But sincerity isn’t the point, since we’re talking politicians here. The point is that they feel they have to lie. Democrats seem to have given up on gun control — they’ve picked up Congressional seats mostly by running pro-gun candidates in conservative districts — and gun-rights people find themselves a constituency that’s now being courted by both parties, rather than being taken for granted by one.
Gun rights are wildly and broadly popular, and the Democrats have built their current majority in Congress on their acquiescence to that fact -- unpleasant as it may be to their elites. The center point on the issue of gun rights has shifted towards popular opinion because of the competition between the parties for voters near the middle. This is how the two-party system is supposed to work, and it's the sort of effect that doomed last year's "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" despite Congressional and Presidential support.
As much as we Americans like to complain about our bloated, unresponsive, and ineffective government, the two-party "first past the post" system appears to be far superior to the more widespread parliamentary system which is commonly based on proportional representation. (Though, for example, England uses a "first past the post" parliamentary system.)
In a parliamentary system with proportional representation, small political parties can get representation in the legislature with just a small percentage of the vote. For example, in continental Europe it's not unusual for a country to have a Generic Left party which receives 48% of the vote, a Generic Right party which receives 47% of the vote, and a Nazi/Communist/UFO party which receives 5% of the vote. The Nazi/Communist/UFO party only receives a tiny percentage of the vote, and in America they wouldn't win any seats in Congress. Under a proportional representation parliamentary system though, they get 5% of the legislature... and that 5% is enough to swing control of the legislature between the two major parties. The result is that the Nazi/Communist/UFO party gets to break every tie and therefore has power that is far greater than its numbers would suggest. Why should they "move to the middle" when their lunacy lets them play kingmaker?
There's a lot more that could be said on the matter, probably better than I've said it, but hopefully this post whets your appetite and gives you an even greater appreciation for the wisdom of America's Founding Fathers.