Could the American people declare an armistice in 2022?
Before it was Veterans Day, the US celebrated November 11 as Armistice Day. That was the day in 1918 when the Great War — what we called World War I before we knew we had to start numbering them — finally ended. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the guns fell silent. After four years and millions and millions of deaths, the war to end all wars concluded when Germany and France agreed to stop fighting.
In the 21st century political battlefield, two of the most polarizing issues are guns and abortions. Political parties use them as wedge issues, dividing Americans by stoking fears that the other party will take away access to one of these things. For an American Union of swing voters to draw in voters from both sides of the aisle, we need a way to rise above these fears.
Terms for an armistice
The legislative package supported by the American Union offers a better social contract for the 21st century, one that ends poverty with universal basic income, ends mass incarceration with major criminal justice reform, and ends the endless wars by bringing our troops home. To deescalate tensions around guns and abortions, it establishes a 10-year truce on these issues.
Incentives for each side
Each side gets something for coming to the table. Gun control activists would get universal background checks, which the NRA opposes. H.R. 8, which was passed by the House in 2019, is included in the legislative package.
For pro-life activists, they get codification of the Hyde Amendment, an restriction tucked into the budget every year since 1977. It restricts the use of federal funds for abortion, with exceptions for rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother. This year, President Biden proposed a budget without the Hyde Amendment, so an ongoing battle would be avoided.
Compromises for each side
Pro-gun activists are wary of the threat of new gun restrictions, such as proposals for banning “assault rifles” like H.R. 1808. To address this, the legislative package restricts the consideration of “any bill, joint resolution, amendment, motion, or conference report” that would “prohibit the manufacture, sale, or possession of a firearm.”
For the pro-life activists, they must accept a similar restriction on abortion bans. Congress would be barred from considering “prohibit[ions] or restrict[ions on] access to abortion” such as H.R. 626 or S. 294. We can agree to stop fighting by taking gun and abortion bans off the table.
A 10-year sunset
Congress would be restricted from considering any repeals or amendments to this four-part legislative truce. This constraint would automatically be repealed 10 years after enactment, but in the meantime, violation of the law would be a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by between five and thirty days imprisonment. If Congress breaks the truce, they can take their vacations in a local jail.
Addressing root causes
It’s worth asking what motivates those who seek to ban guns or abortions. For many on both sides, there is a common answer — preventing needless deaths. A Rasmussen survey last August found that 93% of Americans believed it is important for our leaders to focus on things that bring people together, and the legislative package supported by the American Union will advance that goal by addressing this shared desire to protect life.
Despite the fact that America’s population has grown by more than 30% since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, the total number of abortions is down to a record low. This is a good thing, and begs the question, how low can we go? With a public option for health insurance, women will have access to better healthcare, including long-acting and reversible contraceptives like IUDs, reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies.
Ending poverty with universal basic income [UBI] will further drive down demand. One study found that 2/3rds of women seeking an abortion said they couldn’t afford the baby, and in 2014, 49% of women who got abortions had family incomes below the poverty line. Like a seesaw, the number of abortions will go down when every American rises above the poverty line.
Just as importing in protecting the lives of babies is the inclusion of 18 weeks of paid family leave in the legislative package. The United States is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t guarantee paid time off for new mothers, which has been shown to reduce the infant mortality rate. If we could lower ours to the European average, an estimated 9,000 additional babies would reach their first birthday each year, meaning that we can prevent one needless infant death every hour of every week of every month of the year.
Reducing gun deaths
Annual gun deaths in America, on the other hand, have increased in the 21st century along with the population. The legislative package addresses the drivers in several ways. First, the majority of gun deaths are suicides, whose common causes include financial problems, drug abuse, depression, and difficulties with relationships. Poverty can exacerbate all of those conditions. By establishing a firm economic floor with UBI, we will improve America’s overall mental health and reduce suicide.
Second, a small but highly visible portion of gun deaths come from mass shootings. Sadly, this is not a new phenomenon in America; we’ve been here before, 80 years ago during the last round of the Phoenix Cycle. In his book Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, Sebastian Junger observed: “The first time that the United States suffered a wave of rampage shootings was during the 1930s, when society had been severely stressed and fractured by the Great Depression.” By addressing wealth inequality with UBI plus a value added tax (VAT), we can patch the fraying fabric of our societal bonds.
Another aspect of mass shootings was identified by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone after the Parkland school shooting. “Deep-seated cultural ideas about the virtue of military supremacy and the political efficacy of violence,” he concluded, are related to the rise in mass shootings. By striving to end the endless wars and reducing military spending in the legislative package, we can reduce the glorification of violence while at the same time demonstrating that reasonable adults can work out their differences rationally.
Who wants to end the fighting?
We still remember the historic agreement to stop “the war to end all wars” on November 11, 1918. Will future generations look back at 2022 as the year Americans embraced their constitutional duty to “insure domestic tranquility” and agreed to an armistice on guns and abortion in order to end poverty, end mass incarceration, and end the endless wars? Learn how to be part of the solution at AnAmericanUnion.com.