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August Dakota Poll: Young Adults Call Themselves Conservative, But…

Just like the February version, the August Dakota Poll finds more young South Dakotan adults identifying themselves as conservative (42%) than liberal (23%). But theirs is a queer conservatism. Consider:

  • South Dakotans age 18 to 35 aren't interested in conserving the current two-party system: asked to rate how well "the two-party system is serving the needs of the American people" on a 1–10 scale, 53% give it a 4 or less; only 20% give it a 6 or better.
  • Young South Dakotans wouldn't conserve South Dakota's election system: 56% would like to adopt the Nebraska system—all legislative candidates from all parties go on the same ballot in June, and the top two vote-getters face off in November. Only 29% would oppose.
  • They don't read the Second Amendment as conservatively as the NRA and orange-clad candidates demand: 87% support "reasonable background checks on gun purchases" (that includes 82% of Republican respondents) and 53% say "Local governments should have the authority to ban guns from bars, parks, stores, and restaurants."
  • They aren't strict economic conservatives: as I reported Tuesday, they wouldn't just pass the $8.50 minimum wage on South Dakota's ballot; 56% of them would vote to raise the minimum wage to President Obama's favored $10.10.
  • They aren't strict Grover Norquist conservatives: 70% would raise our minimal teacher pay at least 20%, "even if it means slightly higher sales or property taxes. (A 20% increase would raise South Dakota's teacher pay from 51st in the nation to 41st. We'd still be 16% below the national average and $8,800 behind Minnesota.)
  • They aren't conservative with citizenship: 52% say they'd allow illegal immigrants to stay here and eventually apply for citizenship. Another 11% would let illegal immigrants stay but block citizenship. Only 29% would kick 'em out.
  • They aren't conservative about "family values": 55% say gay marriage should be legal, versus 29% who would keep South Dakota's ban. (But maybe that majority is family-value conservative, taking the position that government should not interfere in two willing adults' decision to make a commitment and raise a family.)
  • They are mixedly conservative on health insurance: almost three times as many respondents think they are worse off under the Affordable Care Act than think they are better off, though a strong 40% say the ACA makes no difference. But asked whether they prefer a mandate to buy private insurance or extending government-based health insurance like Medicare to everyone with income-based premiums, government wins 44% to 26%.

There may be conservatism afoot among the youngest generation of South Dakota voters, but it's not their parents' conservatism.


  1. Craig 2014.09.18

    Part of the issue here (and we have seen this from certain individuals on this very blog) is that the term 'liberal' has been turned into some sort of an insult primarily because people don't understand the true meaning of the term. When you have talk radio and Fox News using the term in a negative light day after day, year after year, and even going so far as to use it as a direct insult - people try to distance themselves from it.

    Then you have the term conservative, which can be divided between those who are fiscally conservative, and those who are socially conservative. I'd argue most young adults are far from socially conservative, yet many consider themselves conservative due to their faith (we are taught early in life that if you believe in God it must mean you are conservative and/or Republican) or their economic viewpoints.

    Boiling it down further, many who proclaim to be fiscally conservative aren't actually conservative... they just want to spend the money in other areas. They would cut social programs yet grow the military. They would eliminate the department of Education yet are perfectly fine spending millions to build new prisons to house low level drug offenders.

    This is easier to recognize on a national level when you have self-proclaimed 'conservatives' growing the national debt faster - and spending more - than their 'liberal' counterparts. Yet it happens in South Dakota as well... wasn't it Mike Rounds who claimed to be a conservative yet grew the state budget 70% during his time in office?

    The reality most people are probably socially liberal and fiscally moderate. They just don't want to admit it.

  2. Steve Sibson 2014.09.18

    "There may be conservatism afoot among the youngest generation of South Dakota voters, but it's not their parents' conservatism."

    Then it is not conservative. This is a sad result of collectivist propaganda in our government schools and our media. That result is why we have a 4 way race for US Senate with 97% supporting one of the three liberals, with the front runner being label a conservative. Yes, I am saying Rounds is a liberal if you evaluate based on conservative principles, and not what the media and the SDGOP establishment is saying. The latter are deceptions.

  3. Clint Brown 2014.09.18

    You know what they say, "if you aren't liberal at 20 you have no heart. If you aren't conservative by 40 you have no brain."

  4. mike from iowa 2014.09.18

    As far as the 2nd Amendment is concerned,how is it that .015% of America's population gets to run roughshod over the vastest majority? Out of approx 320 million Americans,the NRA only has 5 million members.

  5. bearcreekbat 2014.09.18

    Won't these conservative kids be gonna be kicked out the Republican big tent as RINOs if this stuff gets out? They need to be rounded up and forced to listen to talk radio and watch Fox news until they get their priorities straight.

  6. Craig 2014.09.18

    Mike the NRA isn't nearly as powerful as many would have you believe. The only reason they appear to be powerful is because they happen to have the backing of the Constitution.

    That said, for every official 'member' of the NRA you have at least a dozen who support the Second Ammendment yet don't pay dues to the NRA. Much like AARP represents a much larger group of Seniors aside from those paying their annual membership dues, the NRA represents a large amount of Americans who support gun rights.

  7. mike from iowa 2014.09.18

    Craig,I believe you got history wrong. The Constitution supercedes,it does not back,the NRA.(by a couple of hundred years) I also notice NRA headquarters features prominently the 2nd Amendment,minus the part about the well regulated militia. The idea of private ownership of guns being constitutionally guaranteed dates as far back as the 1980's or 90's.

  8. Craig 2014.09.18

    I'm pretty sure you know what I mean but obviously you're correct - the Constitution pre-dates the NRA. My point is the basic premise of the NRA (supporting the right of American citizens to own firearms) is supported by the Constitution. Yes we can argue about specifics and how extreme some of the NRA viewpoints are vs. what the original intent of our founding fathers was... but that is another discussion for another day.

    The only thing I'm confused by is your comment that private ownership of guns only being constitutionally guaranteed since the 1980s or 1990s. I suspect you might be thinking of a specific SCOTUS decision which reaffirmed those rights, but the court system does not grant rights nor take them away - it merely opines on the Constitutionality and/or legality of actions and laws. Thus any right of a private citizen would have existed all along and that right was affirmed by the courts - not established.

    Then again I may have been misunderstanding your statement.

  9. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.18

    Given the rate of young Democrats and Republicans leaving or planning to leave South Dakota. will this push by young conservatives have any influence on our electoral process?

  10. lesliengland 2014.09.18

    .01% financial elite trend and similar % of 2d amend proponents suggests if we don't do something about citizens united ect., joe sixpack will need a constitutional amendment to create a "right" to vote.

  11. mike from iowa 2014.09.18

    Craig-this wingnut dominated,right leaning,activist Scotus pulls laws out of their arses and grants rights to citizens-check Bush v Gore and korporations-see citizens united-all citizens united asked of the court was to allow one non-profit group(citizens united) to show a documentary about Hillary Clinton and what did this court do? Gave individual rights to korporate amerika and decided money was free speech. The 2nd Amendment says nothing about private ownership of weapons.

  12. Craig 2014.09.18

    Settle down there Mike - no body of our government is infallible, but that doesn't mean we disregard every decision ever handed down merely because we disagree with a fraction of them.

    You may feel the Second Amendment says nothing about private ownership of weapons, but I'd argue the vast majority of Constitutional Scholars, as well as numerous courts including the SCOTUS have made it clear the phrase "the right of the people to keep..." does in fact relate to private ownership of firearms.

    Just as our Constitution does not specifically include the phrase "separation of church and state" the interpretation has been abundantly clear. I realize not everyone agrees and you appear to be part of that group, but I honestly don't think anyone can make the intellectually honest argument that the Second Amendment wasn't meant to address private ownership of weapons unless they wish to ignore history including the Federalist Papers as well as the writings of James Madison. The courts have affirmed this view numerous times and it hasn't always been due to activist (or partisan) judges.

    Of course this is veering a tad off-topic, so I apologize to others for the derail.

  13. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.18

    A follow up or added question should have been, are you planning or staying in South Dakota?

  14. bearcreekbat 2014.09.18

    Craig, I agree fully with you about our institutions, including the Supreme Court. No institution is infallible and the Court is no better or no worse. Indeed, the Court often recognizes that earlier decisions were in error and corrects them - Compare, e.g., Plessy v. Ferguson with Brown v. Board of Education, or Bowers v. Hardwick with Lawrence v. Texas.

    But you are dead wrong in asserting that no one "can make the intellectually honest argument that the Second Amendment wasn't meant to address private ownership of weapons unless they wish to ignore history including the Federalist Papers as well as the writings of James Madison." Justice Stevens makes just such an argument in his Heller dissent, joined by three other Justices:

    He specifically addresses the reason why James Madison chose the wording for the Second Amendment. Now I acknowledge that the Heller majority rejected Justice Stevens position and that there are other arguments supporting the idea that Madison intended a private right, but to say there are no intellectually honest arguments to the contrary is simply wrong.

    The other point about Madison is that he had a goal of getting his 12 proposed amendments - the initial bill of rights - accepted by each of the States, which, history teaches, was not an easy task. Thus, whatever he personally advocated, he was smart enough to use language that would be accepted by the States, and as Justice Stevens points out, that language included the militia in the Second Amendment.

  15. owen reitzel 2014.09.18

    actually we have a 4 way race for senate with 1 liberal, 2 conservatives and 1 ultra conservative.
    There is no such thing as a liberal Republican

  16. Jessie 2014.09.18

    As long as we are veering off topic, did the Founders envision Uzis? To their minds, weapons ownership was at best a rifle, more likely a flintlock.

    If the NRA is leaving out the militia part, they are playing fast and loose with the 2nd Amendment.

  17. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.09.18

    I agree with Craig's first comment.

    Liberalism and conservatism have been reduced to mere quips. Neither is honestly or accurately defined in a sound bite.

    "I'm pro-choice." "Oh, you're for killing babies." Right.

    To truly describe either term nuance is required.

  18. o 2014.09.19

    bearcreekbat, no the GOP will never kick these people out from the big tent because they identify themselves as "conservative" (read as "Republican) and will vote based on brand rather than ideology. As such you get these relatively rational people (sorry Sibby, this is the rational branch of conservatism) to vote for the GOP branded wingnuts by touting "conservatism."

  19. Craig 2014.09.19

    >> "If the NRA is leaving out the militia part, they are playing fast and loose with the 2nd Amendment." <<

    On that part of your comment I'd have to disagree Jessie. The "militia part" is a justification for private gun ownership, not a requirement for it. This issue has specifically been addressed by the courts, and the interpretation has been clearly defined as individual ownership was the protected right while formation of a militia was the documented reason which serves as an example of why private ownership is so important. In fact, there was a long discussion about Madison's original text (pre-revision) and the ultimate comma usage in the final published version.

    Either way, as the courts (District, Appellate, and Supreme) have already ruled on the individual right as well as affirming that right numerous times in multiple different cases, the NRA is in no way playing "fast and loose" with the text. They are merely focusing upon the part that concerns them just as a Newspaper lobby might include the phrase "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press". That is a portion of the First Amendment and is settled law, but excluding the portion of the Amendment which mentions freedom of religion or the right to peaceably assemble doesn't in any way suggest they are playing "fast and loose" with the First Amendment.

    As to whether the founding fathers ever envisioned Uzis or similar weapons it is much more difficult to assertain. It stands to reason men of their wisdom would understand and recognize technological advancements would improve upon the weapons they currently had, but nobody can know what level of arms they intended to protect. This is a debate which will rage on for centuries and I dare say nobody can be proven right or wrong because as far as I'm aware the subject was never specifically addressed in any known writings.

    Some will argue "arms" equates to small arms (pistols and rifles) capable of a single shot at a time and which take up to 60 seconds to reload and those which are nearly impossible to conceal. Others would argue "arms" equates to any type of weaponry including fully automatic weapons with homing projectiles and electronic tracking systems, remote triggers, and shooting computers that take the rotation of the Earth into account when determining where to aim. I'd say either of those two views is likely extreme and the true meaning is probably somewhere in the middle - which appears to be what our courts have held to, but I'm not sure we can ever be sure.

    What I will say is the term "arms" should (and thus far has) applied to small arms only. It hasn't applied to tanks, or explosive ordinance, or rockets, missiles, or anything similar. Thus at least those who feel they should have the Constitutional right to own and operate a fully functional Sherman Tank while carrying a rocket launcher on their back and a sling full of hand grenades will have to remain in Montana or Idaho on their ranches muttering under their breathe that the gov'mint just isn't fair.... while we all sleep better at night for having a system of laws which (for the most part) still relies upon a basic sense of logic.

  20. o 2014.09.19

    "There may be conservatism afoot among the youngest generation of South Dakota voters, but it's not their parents' conservatism."

    I agree. I would say it is more like their grandparent's conservatism. It was conservatism pre-Fox news and the subsequent hijacking of conservatism by radicalism.

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.19

    Grandparents' pre-Fox conservatism—interesting observation! Are the kids turning off cable news? Where are they getting this new-old conservatism?

  22. larry kurtz 2014.09.19

    Ozzie: say hi to your dad for me?

  23. mike from iowa 2014.09.19

    n 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation, which contained a provision for raising a confederal militia that consent would be required from nine of the 13 States. Article VI of the Articles of Confederation states,
    "...every State shall always keep up a well-regulated and disciplined militia, sufficiently armed and accoutered, and shall provide and constantly have ready for use, in public stores, a due number of filed pieces and tents, and a proper quantity of arms, ammunition and camp equipage."
    Some militia units appeared without adequate arms, as evidenced in this letter from John Adams to his wife, dated August 26, 1777:
    "The militia are turning out with great alacrity both in Maryland and Pennsylvania. They are distressed for want of arms. Many have none, we shall rake and scrape enough to do Howe's business, by favor of the Heaven."[10]

  24. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.19

    Interesting point on where are young people getting their news.
    I've seen recent studies that show more and more young people don't even have cable, my niece is one of them, they don't read the 'old fashioned' print media either.
    They seem to be getting their news, local and national, from social media. Facebook and Twitter are for old people according to some youngsters.
    They apparently have their sources, Instagram, Tumblr or other social media?

  25. o 2014.09.19

    I would also add that these kids today are more media savvy; they see the manipulation and bias of the source material. As such, outlets like FOX will have a harder time getting these millennials to fall into the party line.

    I also see younger people having a deeper sence of social justice - which I can only hope will turn the economic disparity of our 1% oligarchy. Wealth disparity is not a conservative value, yet is a fine example of a value foisted upon and perpetuated by the in the radicalization of conservatism.

  26. Craig 2014.09.19

    NPR is very popular, as are news feeds or forums from sites such as Reddit or Yahoo News etc.

    I for one still view news on a variety of online sources, but I do not subscribe to any form of traditional print media, I do not have cable television and I don't even watch broadcast news (aside from a few times a year if I happen to catch it at the right time).

    I can't say as I get much real "news" from social media although it does help identify stories and headlines that are newsworthy. In order to get the real story, I still rely upon a variety of media sources including blogs such as this one - because if we're honest... where else would you find all of the information about EB-5 in one place? You might seen an article or two in the Argus, or a 500 word piece on KELO - you might even hear a bit about it on local talk radio or a paragraph in a candidate press release, but there really aren't any "traditional" media sources pulling it all together. You have to hunt and dig to find the information - so gone are the days where I could pick up a paper or turn on the television and consider myself well informed.

    I've never been a fan of relying upon only one or two sources for my news, and the Internet age makes it increasingly easy to remove the spin from the real story. The other advantage of choosing your own media and sources is you can move beyond the latest celebrity relationship news or the ongoing discussions about the latest iPhone and get to the news that matters. The younger generation might very well be more informed than any previous generation... which might explain why some politicians - and church leaders - are so nervous.

  27. Craig 2014.09.19

    As I said Mike (and as the courts have ruled numerous times), the private ownership of arms is a right afforded the citizens due in part to the need to be able to form a militia. It is a not a right granted exclusively to militias, nor is being a member of a militia in any way a requirement.

    I'm not a member of the NRA, but I would staunchly defend the individual right to own firearms just as I would defend freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the right against unreasonable searches. These are rights protected by our Constitution and as an American I respect them. I do not try to change them or adapt them to fit a modern viewpoint. That is a slippery slope that results is far greater ills than any potential advantage that may be gained by manipulating the intent of the Founding Fathers, and I find extreme views on either side of these arguments to be without benefit.

  28. mike from iowa 2014.09.19

    every state ,well regulated and disciplined militias, shall provide and have constantly ready for use,in PUBLIC stores.

    Sounds to me like being in a militia was a requirement and keeping weapons in public storage doesn't sound like private ownership,but I could be wrong. Also,according to our activist wingnut Scotus-the founding fathers meant for their words to be taken literally and that the Constitution is not a living,breathing document.

    Once the makeup of this court swings back to the center,we will see if the judicial activism we have experienced will stand scrutiny.

  29. Bill Fleming 2014.09.19

    Minor correction, but I think it's important, Craig. The Bill of Rights doesn't "grant" rights. It secures the "unalienable" rights we naturally have. Self-defense (and, by extension, weapons for self-defense) is one of those rights , along with life liberty, the pursuit of happiness, etc. (See "Natural Law").

    The question them becomes, what kind of weapons does one need to defend one's self and family? If extended into the "militia" concept, I think we do have to look at the state of our defense systems in present times compared to the times when the Bill of Rights was written. What would an impromptu army of "we the people" need to bring with us in order to defend ourselves from a sophisticated enemy military force? I submit that by and large, we have already surrendered that right.

  30. o 2014.09.19

    Why is "because the Supreme Courts said it is . . . " accepted by the right as reasoning why individuals have a right to own guns, yet rejected as reasoning on a woman's right to abortion?

  31. Craig 2014.09.19

    Bill: "Minor correction, but I think it's important, Craig. The Bill of Rights doesn't "grant" rights. It secures the "unalienable" rights we naturally have. Self-defense (and, by extension, weapons for self-defense) is one of those rights , along with life liberty, the pursuit of happiness, etc. (See "Natural Law")."

    You're exactly right Bill, and although I try to ensure I use proper phrasing to indicate that fact (e.g. when I said "These are rights protected by our Constitution") I'll admit I slip and sometimes refer to those rights as being 'granted' rather than 'protected'. Either way it is an important distinction that our forefathers didn't feel the need to give us rights which they felt were already ours... they merely wanted to ensure it was overtly clear that specific rights were worthy of additional protections.

    @ o - I think you'll find that same hypocrisy on the left just as you do on the right. However, I suspect most people, regardless of political affiliation, are not in agreement with the SCOTUS 100% of the time. I for one do believe they are right more times than they are not, and I believe when you have the same issues being decided time and time again and at numerous different levels of our court system as well as being reaffirmed by higher levels of our court system on more than several occasions (e.g. the right of an individual to own firearms, the right of a woman to choose, or more recently the right of two human beings to be married regardless of sexual orientation) it adds layers of justification to a decision and minimizes the chance of the decision being based upon a partisan divide.

    Yet even with that there are times that I also disagree with the SCOTUS, and as I said previously I do not believe they are infallible. See 'Citizens United' for one such example in recent times.

  32. Craig 2014.09.19

    @ Mike - I realize Mr. Waldman has the belief that the NRA is responsible for manipulating the public to believe the Second Amendment was all about the rights of individuals to own firearms, but I also know Mr. Waldman has admitted in the past that his belief - and his pursuit of this story - was spurred by the Newtown shootings. Thus I don't think I'm going on a limb to suggest he might be a tad biased.

    I'll simply have to disagree with him, and I don't believe his opinion in any way supercedes those of the countless scholars, judges, and historians who have discussed and/or ruled upon this issue. I simply don't concede that this interpretation (that the Second Amendment supports the concept of the individual right to own firearms) is a recent event and I also do not believe it is based solely upon the political leanings of our SCOTUS (especially since similiar decisions have been rendered at lower less partisan courts).

    I am not suggesting that one day the pendulum won't swing the other way and that for some reason we will see the courts re-interpret the intent of our Founding Fathers as they frame the Amendment to focus upon militias. It could happen... but I personally don't believe it would be faithful to the original intent. That is my belief - and currently the belief of the court system and the majority of those who have studied the issue. I realize you disagree and I respect that... this is a polarizing issue which we obviously will not solve here today, thus I'll say we will simply have to agree to disagree.

  33. o 2014.09.19

    Craig: I suppose in the spirit of "minor corrections," those "unalienable" rights, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (to use Jefferson's words form the DOI), are NOT natural rights, they are God-given rights "endowed by their creator . . . " Self-defense is not one of his listed rights, and in fact, it is the government's job to secure these rights. A restriction on gun ownership was not a objection Jefferson levied against the King.

    As for the hypocrisy, my point is that "the Supreme Court says it's OK" is absolute. Either it is the singular justification for all things (and as such the fallacy of an appeal to authority) or more depth is required in the analysis of any right under discussion. Your point that the right to bear arms is founded in a right to self-defense would allow restrictions as long as they do not infringe on self-defense. One small firearm is enough to defend yourself; 25 guns in a home, clips that hold 100 rounds . . . the defense of the second amendment certainly exceeds this limited justification. The absolute right of gun ownership at its current level exceeds any justification except an absolutist designation.

  34. Craig 2014.09.19

    >> "One small firearm is enough to defend yourself" <<

    Against a lone threat I'd agree. Against a larger force... who can really say?

    Heck it took Mel Gibson at least half a dozen guns to defend his son in The Patriot right? When fighting a more well armed force, having more than one would be a great idea.

    Note that yes I'm stating this tongue in cheek and in reality I really don't want to go down this path - just making an observation... we can't really know every aspect of the original intent... and the forefathers didn't leave us any footnotes.

    Society will collectively determine where we land, and chances are most people will adapt without much issue. Such is life.

  35. mike from iowa 2014.09.19

    District of Columbia v Heller(2008) the first time the Scotus said personal ownership of firearms is 2nd Amendment right.

  36. Craig 2014.09.19

    C'mon Mike - I can find people who honestly believe we are entering a period of Global Cooling and have 'evidence' to support their views. An opinion doesn't change history.

    Besides - Toobin isn't exactly what I could call non-partisan.

    As far as your comment relating to Heller - that decision didn't change the law... it affirmed it.

    Seriously - who are you trying to convince - me... or yourself?

  37. o 2014.09.19

    I do not put much in the "framers' intent" justifications. The role of the Supreme Court is to ensure the Constitution is a living, breathing document. The point of our amendment and court decision process was that the Constitution does not stand alone, nor is it immutable. A reasoned look at history would say that the founding fathers were probably more concerned with the defense of country more than the individual when crafting the first amendment - hence the "well-armed militia" verbiage inclusion. That puts more pressure on the Supreemes to not so much be the stuarts of our constitutional rights, but the definers who keep these rights in context of the society we now live. In that spirit, I see the SC as a failure. The swaying toward an individual right emphasis on the second amendment opened a Pandora's box that has made the US less safe - not more (although it has made gun manufacturers more profitable). When even the most reasonable restrictions are rejected out of hand on the basis of constitutionality, the court has failed to allow our rights to mirror and be the product of our society. As such, they are reduced to the perpetuators of anarchistic absolutes.

  38. o 2014.09.19

    Sorry - second amendment - not first.

  39. Bill Fleming 2014.09.19

    O, the "Natural Law" referenced in the DOE and secured by the Bill of Rights is based on the writings of John Locke. And I assure you, self defense is very much a part of it. Here is the chapter from Locke's book which greatly influenced the Founders:

  40. o 2014.09.19

    Bill, I am with you on what natural rights are, I even agree that Locke was an influence on Jefferson's writings, but my point is that Jefferson never directly delineated that right - nor did he focus on the individual's self-defense. I also still hold the expressed written justification of the Second Amendment was for a well-armed militia - not for the protection of the individual. That is why our current interpretation of Second Amendment rights are the creation of the SC (through Heller)- not of direct Framer's writings.

    Let me be clear: the individual DOES have and individual right to own guns under the second amendment. I cannot contest that fact; that is the law. I only object to how that came into being. It was the creation of a Supreme Court, not a clearly defined mandate from the Founding Fathers. Again, the SC CAN do that, I only wis they had not.

  41. Bill Fleming 2014.09.19

    Most sources I know cite the Bill of Rights (1st 10 Amendments) as being specifically intended to secure unalienable natural rights.

  42. o 2014.09.19

    Again, that is what guides the Supreme Court (and academics) in their interpretations (but only the Supremes' count). The influence, intention, and interpretation are all open for evaluation of meaning. The FF's verbiage is the only concrete direction we have to what they said.

    Jefferson lists "life" as an unalienable right. Weather gun ownership protects life is a pragmatic discussion separate from his writing. I will not concede that gun ownership automatically protects life through self-defense. I would argue that in reality, the absolute individual right of gun ownership destroys life, and as such, ought to be restricted to at most what is needed to ensure the verbiage of the Second Amendment: "A well regulated Militia."

    There is no natural right to own a gun.

  43. grudznick 2014.09.19

    Mr. Fleming, the gravy flows tomorrow morning and John Locke will be a topic.

  44. mike from iowa 2014.09.19

    Craig,how many court cases affirming your idea of personal ownership of guns can you find going all the way back to 2008? Fake Noise and the NRA are not unbiased sources. At least Toobin is supposed to be a lawyer. DC v Heller speaks for itself.

  45. Craig 2014.09.19

    Not sure what you mean Mike. DC v Heller speaks for itself in that it went into great detail to detail the history, language, and revisions of the text which resulted in the Second Amendment including analysis of the Constitutional Convention. So yes it speaks for itself - I'm just not sure it speaks the answer you like. We should note that decision was an affirmation of the conclusion the DC Court of Appeals had already reached, which was simply an affirmation of rights already protected in practice (surely you agree individuals were legally purchasing firearms long before 2008).

    McDonald v Chicago was a more recent case which expanded upon Heller. Not sure what is else required - the SCOTUS is the highest court of the land.

    By the way - I like Toobin, and he is a trained laywer, but he is merely one opinion. He isn't shy about his biases thus my point is his view does not carry more weight than judges who have ruled, or Constitutional Scholars who have come to the same conclusions surrounding individual right of ownership. You automatically discredit anything the NRA says because of their bias... why not apply the same criteria to those on the other side?

  46. mike from iowa 2014.09.19

    I'll simply have to disagree with him, and I don't believe his opinion in any way supercedes those of the countless scholars, judges, and historians who have discussed and/or ruled upon this issue. I simply don't concede that this interpretation (that the Second Amendment supports the concept of the individual right to own firearms) is a recent event and I also do not believe it is based solely upon the political leanings of our SCOTUS (especially since similiar decisions have been rendered at lower less partisan courts).

    R these not your very own words? Is 2008 ancient history?
    Heller is not simply an affirmation. It is a first of its kind declaration by an activist court in the short history of trying to revise the meaning of the 2nd Amendment.

  47. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.09.19

    Larry, that's a great link to a powerful article. I have described myself as an FDR, McGovern, Wellstone Liberal Democrat. I need to add Elizabeth Warren to my description. I'm particularly happy that Weiland is considered in that mix. MN has Betty McCollum, a wonderful Congresswoman.

    I certainly agree that Democrats need to clearly stand for something, someone. That is the 99% that Occupiers so eloquently described.


  48. larry kurtz 2014.09.19

    Agreed, Deb: we can't just surf the wave, we have to kick into it.

  49. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.09.20

    BTW, I've seen several polls/surveys/unscientific stuff that says many young people get their news from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. The quip is, they get their news from the Comedy Channel, and their comedy from Fox News.

    Yup, those kids should all vote all the time!


  50. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.20

    Good one Deb, it would not surprise me one bit if that were true.

  51. Craig 2014.09.22

    Deb - you might recall a few years ago when Bill O'Reilly mocked The Daily Show viewers for being 'stoned slackers' and made some comments about them being uneducated etc. Problem is, studies have shown the viewers of The Daily Show were more intelligent, had more degrees, were paid more, and were more well informed than viewers of the O'Reilly show.

    Meanwhile, other studies have shown that viewers of Fox News are not only less informed of the issues facing our nation, but that in many cases they were misinformed and/or were less informed that people who watched no news at all! Amazing.

  52. Craig 2014.09.22

    Mike: "Heller is not simply an affirmation. It is a first of its kind declaration by an activist court in the short history of trying to revise the meaning of the 2nd Amendment."

    As I said Mike, I disagree with that premise - both that it was the first of its kind as well as the meaning of the Second Amendment being revised. The court does not draft law they merely interpret and apply it. Heller didn't define any new rights and merely reaffirmed the rights we as Americans already held. You have presented the view that people believed the Second Amendment only applied to militias and that the intrepretation was modified only since the 1970s, but there were many who argued that the Second Amendment applied to individuals long before the 1970s - some of those arguments did not prevail, but for every case that discussed the militia clause there was someone else on the other side arguing for individual rights.

    For example - recently there have been those arguing that the contents of a cell phone were private and should not be searched by law enforcement without a warrant - the fact it took until 2014 for the SCOTUS to rule on that fact doesn't change the argument... it merely affirms the right and applies the unreasonable searches premise to it. It doesn't mean those pushing for this right were incorrect prior to 2014... it just means the intrepretation of law took a while to catch up.

    So prior to Heller, it was back in the 1930s (US v Miller) when the SCOTUS last ruled on a Second Amendment issue and that involved the legality of a sawed-off shotgun. Either way, that case was - and still is - debated as to what the outcome actually supported. Some argue it was focused upon the militia aspect while many others believed it supported an individual ownership premise for the purposes of a militia... which is to say the formation of a militia was the justification for individual ownership.

    In fact, the court went to great lengths to discuss what a militia was, and explained that it included men which were only soldiers on occasion. It was never suggested nor stated that someone need be a member of the military but rather suggested they could potentially serve if needed.

    After Miller there were several other cases including US v. Emerson which many scholars will tell you was the one cases where the history of the Second Amendment was actually examined in greater detail than ever before. The result? Support of individual ownership. Emerson also stated that this ruling was consistent with Miller in protecting individual rights.

    Putting all of that aside, I'm not sure I understand the point. We know the SCOTUS has a history of making mistakes (Dred Scott, Plessy v Ferguson, etc.) but in time it seems errors are corrected. Thus I'm not about to argue that segregation is Constitutional, but rather argue that the court was wrong and that even if it did rule as such history has proven the decision was incorrect the entire time.

    It seems over time the court seems to get things right, and as it clarifies positions and interprets the Constitution, more times than not over time it appears to get closer to the original intent. Whether this is because of increased awareness, greater education, or more reliance upon the will of the people I cannot say. What I will say is that I believe the court got it right with Heller, and I cannot imagine this being challenged and overturned in my lifetime. You can chalk the decision up to good marketing by the NRA or whatever... but I'll chalk it up to the court being faithful to what the original authors of our Constitution had in mind and the fact they did far more research into original intent than cases prior.

    That said, people tend to only refer to courts as being "activist" when they reach a decision they themselves disagree with. I'm not about to put much credence in the label as it does nothing to support (or counter) a valid argument.

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