Watching the recent political debates on gun control, and more importantly, how to handle the Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after his capture, I had a thought. Let me say right off the bat that I’m making some generalizations, and I am confident that there are many exceptions to these generalizations. However, I still want to make them, because I hope it might shed some light on the current political problems in the U.S.
Here’s a trend I’ve noticed among Republican politicians:
1. They argue against many laws because of the slippery slope they might lead down. A few recent examples include minor gun control laws that might lead to eventual loss fo 2nd Amendment rights and gay marriage which might lead to marrying animals, etc.
2. They seem much more willing to bend current laws in any particular situation. For example, some called for treating Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as an enemy combatant, even though most believe that would not be possible with current laws.
This seemed like a strange contradiction to me at first, but I realized that it actually makes sense when put together. If you’re open to making exceptions, any movement in one direction makes room for even more exceptions.
Look at it the other way around. Perhaps Democrats are not as worried about the slippery slope of a new law because they are more likely to attempt to follow the letter of the law without exceptions.
For me, this was an enlightening moment of thought. If the way our two political parties and their followers understand law and it’s place in society is different, then of course it’s going to be much more difficult to agree on what any particular law should be. It’s a fundamental philosophic disagreement on the meaning and nature of law!