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Buying Elections

I am not a fan of the ballot. When there was murmuring about passing that in Pennsylvania, I wrote my reps. I got an unusual phone call back from a staffer of my State Senator, perplexed someone wrote them on this topic and looking for clarification as to my reasoning. My response basically was, “Look at how badly the ballot has screwed up California. It’s not democracy, it’s mob rule; the victor is almost always the side that spends the most money. It’s a great way for monied interests to dupe the people into voting for nonsense legislators would never be foolish or stupid enough to pass.” I was reassured by the staffer that the article I read was not indicative of a serious effort to get the ballot passed in Pennsylvania (which would require a Constitutional Amendment) and that my Senator would be unlikely to support such an effort should it come up. That was before Bloomberg started using the ballot to buy his political preferences.

Everytown for Gun Safety, the gun control group founded by billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has been leading the charge, throwing its financial weight behind three of the four measures. The organization plans to spend $25 million nationwide on the issue, almost as much as the powerful National Rifle Association has spent on television advertising for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

NRA has made the calculation that Trump is a better investment than fighting the ballot initiatives. The collective wisdom of gun fora will certainly declare, if Trump wins and puts desirable people on the Court, that was a brilliant move! If he loses, or screw us, NRA will be the worst gun rights group ever! It’s a tough position. NRA is not capable of outspending Bloomberg in a ballot fight, so fights must be picked carefully. Past ballot initiatives we have won on have been defeated purely through grassroots effort. In both Massachusetts’ handgun ban ballot initiative, and California’s handgun freeze initiative, we were outspend heavily, but we had enough people on the ground who were good organizers to get it done. We’ve seen some of that recently (like the Colorado recall) but not nearly enough. Our people are very good at self-organizing when you hit at the heart of something very important to them (like  gun or magazine bans).

What you can expect Bloomberg keep doing is using the ballot to nibble around the edges. It’s an expensive thing to do: so expensive that once more money limited gun control groups realized they couldn’t go big, so they might as well go home. Bloomberg doesn’t seem to mind blowing tens of millions of dollars for incremental, marginal gains. People in Washington State may just have seen a glimpse of what Bloomberg has in store for them next. But I have to wonder if he’ll go for something big like universal registration, or some other real culture breaker. Bans on private transfers will largely be ignored by both the public and the authorities. It’s unfortunate to see Bloomberg win a victory, but it won’t break the culture. It won’t make the activists and hard core gun rights folks leave the states this passed in. At some point, Bloomberg will probably have to go after a culture killing issue to really win, and flip a state into the anti-gun column. Otherwise he’ll spend a decent chunk of his fortune whittling away at the margins. When and where will that move occur? Your guess is as good as mine.

14 Responses to “Buying Elections”

  1. AnOregonian says:

    “At some point, Bloomberg will probably have to go after a culture killing issue to really win, and flip a state into the anti-gun column. Otherwise he’ll spend a decent chunk of his fortune whittling away at the margins. When and where will that move occur? Your guess is as good as mine.”

    The when and were is the “west coast wall” (but I thought walls were bad) and the intent is to flip Oregon and Washington. At least in Oregon, the Democrats have started talking big in their safer enclaves about their moves in this upcoming legislative session.

    It sounds like the debate right now is whether they have the support to go full California or if they’re going to be going after just magazines in this first pass.

  2. Zundfolge says:

    The idea that “he who spends the most wins” is not true.

    Here in Colorado, we had a recall election for some Democrats that rammed through some dumb gun control laws. Ole Bloomie outspent the recall effort by 8 to 1 and lost soundly.

    We must keep up the fight, but eventually he’s going to run out of money or die (and I don’t think his heirs will be as on fire to waste their inheritance on gun control).

    The more we get him to waste his money the sooner he’s broke.

    • Sebastian says:

      It’s usually true. There are exceptions. When we self-organize, we can beat well-funded opponents. But we’re not always good at that.

    • SPQR says:

      We won two of three recalls in Colorado (the third, Hudak, used a provision of the recall statute to resign and save the seat for Democrats ) but only one was “soundly” victory. The Colorado Springs district recall of Morse was a narrow victory.

    • Archer says:

      Except that he has too much money to be broke.

      The man makes about $10 billion per year. 10 or 15 million here and there is pocket change. It’s 1/1000th of his income.

      To consider that ratio, think about this: Do you make $50,000/year? If so, can you donate $50 or $75 to a cause you’re passionate about? Would it break the bank to do that once or twice a year?

      THAT’s the issue we have with Bloomberg and his money.

  3. Fred says:

    Linked at #Gab.ai

    @ProGunFred
    #2A

  4. CarlosT says:

    I like Seattle. I grew up here and have spent most of my life here. But as someone who just wants to be left alone and leave others alone, I don’t fit in anymore. The ways things are going, I’m not sure there’s going to be any place to go that’s a better fit soon.

    • David says:

      Missouri

    • Ben says:

      Come to the east side of the state. The weather is hot and dry, the air is choked with wildfire ash, and every important decision is going to be made by the morlocks in King County, but at least people will leave you the Hell alone.

      • CarlosT says:

        People individually may leave you alone, but that doesn’t stop Olympia and Seattle from wanting to live your life for you from afar.

  5. Ian Argent says:

    Culture killer: there’s a move afoot in NJ to require an FPID before someone can rent a gun, ostensibly reduce range suicides. That this would basically destroy the rental range business if never mentioned.

    I meant to do an article about that, by life happened.

  6. Jim says:

    As far as Washington background checks on private sales, it’s a sick joke that is ignored by the people and unenforced by law enforcement.

    • Archer says:

      Oregon, too.

    • Miles says:

      Yes, it’s a “joke” until an anti-gun county prosecuting attorney with an ambitious agenda for political advancement to greener pastures decides to make an example out of some poor schmuck who doesn’t do that background check and the gun winds up being used later in some homercide.

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