A new manifesto: "Lack of Common Sense"

CBS Illustration/AP/Journal Newspaper, Ron Agnir

(CBS News) When Thomas Paine wrote the essay "Common Sense," it rallied the American colonists to take on the greatest power in the world and what resulted was the United States of America.

Maybe what we need these days is an essay called "Lack of Common Sense." How else can we account for the current state of affairs?

Of course, there are legitimate reasons for people to own guns, for both sport and protection. But doesn't common sense tell us we must keep guns away from people like the Colorado shooter?

Don't we all agree on that?

Finding a solution to fix that won't be easy. But if that is the goal, shouldn't that be where we start the discussion? Where's the common sense in not starting there?

This is not about ideology; it is about the safety of innocent people, and going to the movies without fear of being killed.

It's like so many of the issues these days. The one thing gone missing from the argument is common sense.

Why? Because we've allowed the lobbyists and the partisans and the ideologues and, yes, the people who make money out of politics, to take control of the argument and shift it, from common sense to endless hairsplitting, meaningless rhetoric and ideological talking points designed to avoid blame - and fatten campaign war chests.

Common sense doesn't really fit when the goal is not what's good for us but what's good for my side.

We remember Thomas Paine saying in another essay, "These are the times that try men's souls." But maybe we have forgotten what it took for the courageous people of his time to do what they did.

Here's a clue: It wasn't a fear of getting beat in the next election.

  • Bob Schieffer On Twitter»

    Bob Schieffer is CBS News' chief Washington correspondent and anchor of Face the Nation.

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