Assault Weapons: The Art of the Art of the Possible
by Bob Schwartz
Watching Joe Biden back off the primacy of an assault weapons ban in the curbing of gun violence—following Senator Diane Feinstein’s introduction of exactly that legislation—is discouraging. And it brings to mind Picasso and Pollock, among others.
Politics is said to be the art of the possible. The motto is roughly “we fight the fights we can win.” Very pragmatic, and there is something to commend pragmatism. That won’t be much comfort, though, when well-meaning politicians have to show up at the next inevitable massacre and solemnly announce that they aimed at the possible, and even then settled for half.
Exactly what kind of art is politics?
Here’s a style of art, the kind everybody finds acceptable and can endorse. Who is going to argue about Rembrandt?
Then again, over time there were a number who wanted to argue about and with Rembrandt. By the time the twentieth century rolled around, artists wondered why they had to pay slavish homage to ideas that no longer suited the times. They determined that new ways were not only possible, but that they must be possible.
And so Picasso
and Jackson Pollock
Maybe every progressive politician who is wavering on support for an assault weapons ban needs to visit some museums with modern art; there are plenty in Washington. Then maybe they will discover what real courageous progress is. The possible is limited only by our imagination, spirit and will. That’s the real art.
I’m not sure I’m disappointed, only because it was expected. This administration is nothing if not pragmatic, and they’re not going to let their principles get in the way of making a deal.
That being said, I think that if they can pass legislation limiting the capacity of gun magazines, it’s a huge step in the right direction.