I’m currently reading The Storm Before the Storm by Mike Duncan, which covers the period preceding the fall of the Roman Republic. It’s a fascinating book that covers a period of Roman history that doesn’t get enough attention. One of the reoccurring themes in the book is how long established unwritten rules were being continuously violated by ambitious politicos.
Political debate here in the United States is experiencing a similar trend. Although political matters here haven’t quite devolved to the point where politically ambitious individuals are able to raise a street gang to murder their opposition, plenty of other unwritten rules are being violated. For example, at one point there was an unwritten rule against using children as political pawns. That rule has been violated numerous times already but even by past standards the gun control advocates are being extremely blatant:
We’re seeking wisdom from the mouths of babes, these days. So I asked my 12-year-old son if the country would be a better, safer place if the government tried to disarm some or all Americans to reduce violent crime.
“I think that would have the opposite effect,” he said. “The fewer people who are armed, the fewer people there would be to fight against criminals.”
So there we have it: the launch of Pre-Teens Against Infringements of the Right to Self-Defense, right here in my living room.
If you’re less than bowled over by my son’s insights, you’re forgiven. He’s short on experience and incompletely developed in his analytic skills. He also is one person, offering an opinion heavily colored by his parents’ views and the particular American subculture in which he’s raised.
There’s no logical reason why his participation in the discussion—which his mother and I encourage as a stepping stone to full engagement in the world around him—would be more convincing than the arguments of pundits, criminologists, and philosophers, just as there’s no logical reason to pay special attention to the teens now calling for more-restrictive gun laws in the wake of the Parkland shooting. There’s no logical reason that is—but we keep conscripting the tykes into political disputes in an effort to end debate, not advance it.
It’s rather ironic that gun control advocates are, on the one hand, claiming that 18-year-olds aren’t mature enough to own a firearm but people much younger than that are mature enough to be taken with the same seriousness as adults in political debates.
My point in this post isn’t that kids should be ignored during political debates. Different people mature at different rates. Some people are incredibly mature at a young age whereas others seem to never mature. Some kids certainly do have the maturity and intelligence to discuss political matters whereas some adults do not. However, most of the gun control advocates aren’t genuinely listening to what the kids are saying. They’re using the kids as political pawns. Their participation is being pushed so their parents can claim that anybody who opposes gun control hates children. Of course, this is how children are always used in political debates, which is why there was an unwritten rule against using children in political debates.
I’m not going to go so far as to say that the United States is the same as the twilight years of the Roman Republic. History doesn’t repeat itself. It does rhyme though. And there are a lot of things that rhyme between the United States and the Roman Republic during its twilight years.