Thursday, April 18, 2013

Urban columnist: Congress bowed to rural gun nuts; Small-town writer: Rural folks aren't stupid or mean

A pair of writers, one for the Miami Herald, the other from a small, rural town, offer differing opinions on rural life and how it affects the gun-control debate. Miami Herald writer Fred Grimm says Congress is too heavily influenced by rural interests, and not just on guns. Center for Rural Stategies President Dee Davis, writing for the Daily Yonder, published by the center, said his friends and neighbors are caring, good people who would gladly face a little extra headache in purchasing a firearm if it meant a safer America.

Grimm opines that gun legislation was doomed from the start because of rural America and the structure of the Senate, which ignores population. "Once again, senators representing less than a third of the national population were able to ignore all those awful images from Newtown and thwart legislation that looked a hell of a lot like the national will. Their disproportionate power was on display Wednesday in the Senate, where some gun nut from Wyoming has 17 times more clout than a no-account from Florida."

Davis, left, says the supposedly rural interests who blocked the gun bill aren't lined up with people in Whitesburg, Ky., where he lives: "In 30 years I still have not locked the door, and I haven’t had a gun in the house." Of the legislation to expand background checks, and Grimm's notion that rural people don't care about events like the Newtown shooting, he said, "The rural people I give a damn about are all people who give a damn about those little boys and girls in Connecticut and those mommas and daddies there living in anguish because they could not protect the ones they held so dear. The rural people I care about here aren’t stupid or mean, and they can handle a momentary inconvenience for the public safety." (Read more)

Grimm, right, says the rural power in the Senate has led to a host of inequties, most recently in the immigration-reform bill: "Farm workers would be given a special five-year path to citizenship, as opposed to the 10-year deal for other illegal immigrants. Another amendment would create a special 'blue card' system exclusively for farm workers. Because with the distorted distribution of political power in the U.S. Senate, a Mexican farm worker in Mississippi has more worth than a Haitian roofer in South Florida. . . . Surely the founding fathers didn’t anticipate a situation in which workers abandon rural America and head to urban job centers even as rural America accrues more political clout. The voters migrate in one direction, the power and money flows the other." (Read more)

UPDATE, April 19: Grimm wants those who think he is "an urban elitist" to know that he is from Pineville, W.Va., worked for papers in West Virginia and Mississippi, and was the Southern Bureau chief for the Herald.

The editors of Bloomberg News, owned by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, agree: "If the nation’s laws fail to represent the views of the overwhelming majority of its people, representative democracy becomes a shallow and unsustainable exercise. Just as gun laws have failed to keep pace with the advance of technology, which puts ever greater firepower in the hands of virtually anyone who wants it, the Senate has failed to adapt to the urbanization and suburbanization of the nation, enabling rural representatives to veto the will of an increasingly metropolitan majority. The Senate cannot, and indeed does not, function if 60 votes are the threshold for every proposal." (Read more)

Dylan Matthews writes on Ezra Klein's Wonkbook for The Washington Post: "The smallest 20 states amount to 11.27 percent of the U.S. population, but if all of their senators band together they can successfully filibuster legislation."

Read more here:

No comments: