George Ryan, until last month the Republican governor of Illinois, has revolutionized the debate over capital punishment. His genius, such as it is, has been to ignore the great moral and philosophic questions that surround the topic and focus on the pragmatic ones.
Last month Congressman Charles Rangel (D., N.Y.) proposed reinstating the military draft. He sees it as a form of vaccination, a way of inoculating the country against war. “A renewed draft,” Rangel argued, “will help bring a greater appreciation of the consequences of decisions to go to war.”
The evidence that Saddam Hussein has an aggressive weapons program can be found in the reports made by United Nations arms inspectors and by Iraq itself. So say the experts who have examined Iraq’s recent 12,000-page declaration to the UN. They point, for example, to supplies of anthrax and biological toxins that are unaccounted for.
During the most recent political campaign, two snipers were on the loose near the nation’s capital, ultimately killing ten and wounding another three persons. You would think that the murder spree would have propelled gun control onto the national agenda. But weapons of mass destruction abroad trumped any talk about weapons of destruction at home.
To worry publicly about the increasing disparities of wealth and income in this country is to invite the charge of fomenting “class warfare.” Nevertheless, consider: Top CEOs earn 1,000 times the pay of an average worker—a ratio that has increased exponentially in the past three decades.
The United States is deeply divided regionally when it comes to violence, gun possession and the death penalty. Dividing the country into 11 different “nations” based on the predominant origins of its inhabitants and the resulting culture, Colin Woodard says Yankeedom (his label for the Northeast) and the Left Coast are most open to gun control and abolition of the death penalty. The Deep South, Appalachia, Tidewater and Far West regions contain the most adamant supporters of the Second Amendment and capital punishment, and they also have the highest rate of murders. If the deadlock between these two extremes is ever to be broken, it will come about through swing voters in the middle states (Tufts magazine, Fall).