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Filibustering the Surgeon General, Courtesy of the NRA

Posted By Jonathan Noel, Friday, May 9, 2014
Dr. Vivek Murphy's confirmation to be Surgeon General has stalled, languishing between the nomination and confirmation stages for very obvious, but completely ridiculous, reasons.

Guns and the NRA.

When Dr. Murphy was testifying at his confirmation hearing, he intimated that guns were a public health issue.  (I'm not sure how to argue against that.  Firearms killed nearly 32,000 people last year.)  But that was enough to get the NRA, Republicans, and some red-state Democrats up in arms (pretty good pun, right?).

He'll take away your guns! He use his power to attack the second amendment! He'll make you make sure you are a responsible gun owner!

There are a lot of things to take away from this ridiculous fight.  Another needless fight.  Republicans doing whatever they can to make sure nothing gets done.  A politicized argument for what amounts to a position with no actual power.

But the most concerning is the NRA.  The NRA is NOT a public health organization, and in my opinion, they do NOT look out for the safety and welfare of the country.  As so eloquently put by Paul Waldman, the NRA advocates for fear (seriously, go read his blog post. I think his description of the NRA is spot on), and represents the interests of the gun industry.  

Yet, here we are.  A public health appointee is held up by a non-public health organization.

Something isn't quite right about this.  The New England Journal of Medicine called it "policital blackmail."  The ironic part is that support from the NRA has no bearing on whether or not a politician wins an election.

In the short term, the Senate just needs to vote on Dr. Murphy's nomination.  The Surgeon General has done a lot of good, but it is still largely ceremonial, with no real power outside the issuing of reports.

In the long term, we need to find a way to change the way Congress functions so that they are less afraid of the next election, less influenced by organizations who don't belong in a debate, and more inclined to actually do something because doing nothing isn't working. 

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