Thoughts on guns, transportation and extremism

Published January 12, 2023

By Thomas Mills

As the legislature kicks into action, I don’t have any deep thoughts about a specific topic. Instead, I’ve got a lot of little thoughts about several things happening around the state and nation. 

Last week, a six-year-old boy brought a gun to school and shot his teacher. The story got a fair amount of coverage, but no broad outcry to restrict access to guns. Republicans have won that battle. As a country, we’ve decided that the price of freedom is the lives our children. The proliferation of guns in this country has made shooting the leading cause of death among children. 

Republicans have been claiming that guns make us safer, but that’s been proven wrong again and again. More of our kids are dying and, if you believe Republicans, we’re in the midst of a terrible crime wave despite more guns than any country in the world. They can’t have it both ways. Either more guns reduce crime and gun deaths or they don’t. Clearly, they don’t. They’ve just made us a more callous society that puts a lower value on life. 

This week, state house Speaker Tim Moore panned Charlotte’s transportation plan for putting too much emphasis on public transportation and bike lanes. Moore wants to put more emphasis on roads. He says that when you drive around Charlotte, you don’t see people riding bikes of busses, because they are almost all in cars. That’s partly because you’d be crazy to ride a bike on the streets of much of the city and public transportation is too inconvenient because it needs to be upgraded. I’ve spent a bunch on time in Charlotte the past few months and driving around there is awful. 

One thing we should have learned by now. More roads just brings more traffic. And building those roads and adding those lanes causes headaches that can last for years.  Moore is really just advocating for traffic jams and longer commute times.

I used spend a lot of time in Minneapolis. When I first started going, the city was just starting the first phase of its light rail project. Over the next fifteen years, I watched the rail system drive development and growth, particularly as the line opened between Minneapolis and St. Paul. Areas around stops grew with residential development, retail, and services. Once blighted areas became bustling ones. Good public transportation planning is about the future, not the present, something I don’t think most conservatives can comprehend since they are quite often trying to go backwards instead of forwards. 

A conservative group called Alliance Defending Freedom filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the Department of Public Instruction. The group claims the Governor’s School wrongfully dismissed a teacher because of the teacher’s conservative values. Another right-wing group called Ed First, says the school wanted the teacher, David Phillips, to “follow its radical Marxist programming.” They attacked Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt for calling Phillips a “racist.” I can’t find any evidence that Truitt called the guy a racist, but I have few thoughts.

First, Phillips, his attorneys, and that group Ed First are all victimhood conservatives. Everybody is always against them. They take abhorrent views and then are offended when people call them out for their bullshit. I suspect that Governor’s School had enough of Phillips making himself out to be some sort of White, Christian martyr and canned him.

Second, any group that talks about “Marxist programming” is a radical, right-wing organization that doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously. I’ve thought about what they mean. Marxism is about eliminating class differences. Groups like Ed First have attached ethnicity, religious affiliation, and sexual preference to Marxism. They don’t believe in racial, sexual, or religious equality and, in their opinion, anybody promoting those values is Marxist. It’s just nuts, but it’s also widely accepted in Republican circles.

Finally, I doubt I agree with Catherine Truitt about much, but I’m glad she’s publicly defending the Governor’s School against people who would tear down all of our institutions. Those groups are the ideological brethren of the Members of Congress who held up the speaker vote. They want to burn the system down. The GOP has allowed them to get a solid foothold in their party and they are going to have a hell of a fight to dislodge them. Truitt is doing the right thing by pushing back instead of cowering. I wish more Republicans would follow her example instead of pandering to extremism.  

Well, that’s what I’m thinking about.