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Nov 6, 2013
I’m going to wander a bit off topic here for a bit, because I think figuring out the future of the coalition, so to speak, has an impact on gun rights.
There’s been a lot of talk in the comments about where the GOP needs to go on social issues, and a lot of talk about how the GOP just needs to give up on all that SoCo mumbo jumbo and focus exclusively on fiscal and liberty issues. Given that I am probably more socially liberal than your average Democrat, I find this position to be emotionally pleasing, but setting that aside, and looking at things as a careful observer of politics, I don’t think that’s true. I think the GOP needs to moderate its position on social issues, but I don’t think they need to piss away the SoCo vote entirely to win. A lot of our troubles lately have been that the GOP is just fielding awful and often underfunded candidates. But I do think there are some political realities SoCos need to understand, and the GOP needs to understand.
The first is that the gay issue is lost. To younger voters, speaking against gay rights and gay marriage sounds like burning witches at the stake levels of backwardness. This issue is changing very quickly in favor of social liberalism. Where the GOP needs to focus is on SoCo fears that churches will be forced to marry gays, or that religiously-owned businesses will be forced to accommodate gay lifestyles, despite religious objections. While I generally believe homosexuals should enjoy the benefit of living in a society free of discrimination, again, looking objectively, I think the GOP could stake out a narrow position that religious freedom trumps anti-discrimination laws under some circumstances. But this is a tightrope, and it’s a fine line between standing up for freedom of conscience and favoring discrimination against homosexuals. I don’t know if I trust the GOP to walk that line in what is a complex issue.
The abortion issue is not lost. There are still plenty of voters out there who believe abortion should be unlawful in some circumstances. But only a minority of people believe abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. SoCos need to accept they can only move the needle on abortion at the margins. This is a fact of life for just about every other issue, but for some reason social conservatives expect not only complete philosophical purity on this matter from candidates, but expect them to be vocal about it. All this without expecting it to carry any electoral consequences. That’s not true for any other issue, and it’s not true for abortion either. If you’re loud and proud that you reject abortion in all circumstances, you’re going to lose in swing states, and apparently even in some red states. If you reject the morning after pill, it’s going to be successfully spun as rejecting contraception, because that’s how most voters view it. The GOP should stay far away from anything that even smells like restricting contraceptives. They can make a case the public shouldn’t have to pay for it, but beyond that, stay away.
Now, the gun issue gets lumped into the tent of “socially conservative” quite often, but I don’t really think it belongs there. Guns are a liberty issue. To the extent that one wants to consider it a “socially conservative” issue, I don’t think it’s a losing issue for the GOP. We’ve seen repeated evidence that the anti-gun position is a losing issue for Democrats. My last headline on this topic was a bit of a joke, because that’s what Bloomberg is going to spin, but the truth is if we’d have given Bloomberg another few weeks to sink another few million into campaigning for McAullife on gun control, I think Ken Cuccinelli would be the next governor of Virginia. Somewhere between the time Bloomberg stepped into the race in a big way and the election, this race went from a blowout for McAullife to a nail biter. And I’m not the only one who noticed this. But even with all that, we can still only move the needle on the margins, it’s just that after years of doing that, we’re making steady progress.
Immigration is the other big social issue, though I believe that whole area is fraught with land mines. I don’t envy any political strategist trying to figure out how to navigate through it. I personally tend to favor easy immigration law, but more restrictive laws on earning citizenship. I tend to think the GOP should work out a deal where all the illegals who have been here for years have a path to a green card, but not citizenship. But would that be cutting the GOPs own throat? I don’t know. Like I said, it’s a tough issue politically. I tend to have faith that hispanics will integrate just as well as Italians and other formerly disfavored ethnic groups did. But I do think there should be long term consequences for entering the country illegally, and that consequence is you never get citizenship, or get to vote.
Nov 6, 2013
Unfortunately, the two Supreme Court justices who did not deserve retention were retained. However, with 99% of state precincts reporting, the favored judge of Superior Court won, Vic Stabile.
Locally, our elections were a mixed bag. On the one hand, the lesser of two evils won the county-wide offices. However, a MAIG mayor managed to retain his seat by a stinking 8 votes.
This is why gun owners need to at least look at what’s happening right in their backyards. I’m not saying you need to track every little borough happening or know every little piddly fight going on between township and county or whatnot. As I told folks yesterday, simply look up the page to see if your mayor is in MAIG. If s/he is, vote for the opponent. It’s a simple strategy. In Pennsylvania, mayors aren’t legally allowed to make gun policies, so you don’t need a “pure” candidate, just send a message by voting people out if they back Bloomberg.
Nov 5, 2013
But just barely, it’s looking like. A few weeks ago it looked like Cuccinelli was going to go down hard, probably by double digits. I don’t honestly think Bloomberg did McAuliffe any favors, since it was during his big gun control push that he started losing ground. But a win is a win, and hopefully the GOP does well enough in the down ticket races that we won’t have much to fear from McAuliffe. We shall see. But I think this is another indication that strong social conservatives aren’t viable candidates in swing states.
UPDATE: More on Bloomberg not helping.
Nov 4, 2013
Unlike many states, Pennsylvania gun owners actually have a method to send a direct message to the judicial branch about their views on how judges might be doing at either upholding or uprooting our rights to keep and bear arms.
Pennsylvania does a range of judicial elections – outright partisan competitive elections at some levels and during some years, and then retention elections (simple, is this person doing a good enough job to remain on the bench vote) for some levels of the court. There are perks and drawbacks to such a system, but it is our system. That means we gun owners should participate.
Tomorrow is Election Day, and the only offices on the ballot are local, county, and judicial. It means that turnout will be ridiculously low. Gun owners need to be concerned since we just had an elected judge make a completely new interpretation of our concealed carry laws that made any Pennsylvania resident carrying on an out-of-state license a criminal.
In fact, two Supreme Court justices are up for a retention vote tomorrow. One of them, Chief Justice Ron Castille, wrote the opinion that has opened the door to redefine Pennsylvania’s self-defense standard from one which requires the state to disprove a claim of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt, to one where the defendant has to prove self-defense by a preponderance of the evidence. This would essentially shift the burden from the state to the defendant. If gun owners think this is a bad idea, then vote against retention.
Gun owners aren’t the only interest group that should be looking more to the courts as voters. A Tea Party group is also encouraging voters to vote against retention of both justices up tomorrow. Whatever you think about their views on whatever it is that’s irking them is irrelevant, what it presents is an opportunity to see that Castille is especially weak.
This isn’t the only time in recent months that gun owners have needed to wake up to judicial elections. In Erie, there’s a low level judge who just blatantly ignored the state’s preemption law. This is a situation that can easily be solved at the ballot box, and the message will spread to other judges.
Unfortunately, of all the bad rulings issued for gun owners lately, Chief Justice Castille is the only one facing an immediate election. However, he can be sent home. We should take the opportunity to help him enjoy his retirement a little earlier than he expected. (He actually faces mandatory retirement next year, so it’s pretty pointless to keep him on the court. Unfortunately, he is fighting that mandatory retirement. Though he can’t fight a voter-mandated retirement.)
Nov 1, 2013
Yesterday, a story popped up on Photography is Not a Crime (another great blog highlighting rights of the law-abiding that are frequently trampled) about a low level ACLU representative getting angry at a photographer for taking photos on a public Massachusetts street that she just happened to be working on that day.
The girl decked out in her ACLU gear didn’t just inform the photographer that she’d rather not have him take her photo, she tried to claim trumped up charges that he was engaged in a criminal act by taking a photo that just happened to have her in it.
This doesn’t surprise me coming from ACLU representatives because I witnessed a group of ACLU “volunteer observers” at the 2004 Pittsburgh NRA meeting trying to intimidate NRA supporters who were snapping photos of the anti-gun protests taking place on the public space outside of the convention center with similar threats.
One girl in particular, probably an older college student or recent graduate, was particularly aggressive in claiming that gun rights supporters had no right to take any photos at all on the public sidewalk and that she would report us to the police if she thought we took any photos of her sitting on the sidewalk.
I just point out this story because it’s useful to understand that the underlings who may be representing ACLU in some form at any gun-related events may try to use the same false charges that photography in public places is a crime against gun owners to try and intimidate them from documenting an event or participating one way or the other in public protests. I have never seen another ACLU volunteer observer team at an NRA meeting again, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen again.
Oct 31, 2013
Give credit to the WaPo for this one, they just rated Bloomberg’s effort to attack Ken Cuccinelli on gun rights 3 “Pinocchios” out of a possible 4. In fact, in their minds, these attack ads by anti-gunners should be considered to have “[s]ignificant factual error and/or obvious contradictions.”
They note that nothing that the ad complains about in regards to Cuccinelli’s record has anything to do with the murderers they show on the screen. Unfortunately, that won’t keep Bloomberg’s $3 million spend off the air.
Oct 30, 2013
In any political struggle, there’s going to be extremes. Most people lie somewhere in the middle between two viewpoints on any given issue. Electoral success can generally be determined by how well you manipulate that vast middle into supporting your position, or at the least not getting too enthusiastic about opposing you. This is something folks in the conservative movement need accept if they want to start winning elections.
What success gun rights have enjoyed has been achieved by fielding large numbers of single-issue voters, while simultaneously not motivating the vast middle to do much of anything in opposition. Whether this is because they share vague agreement or tepid disagreement is of little consequence; the point is we offer an upside to politicians for agreeing with us that has very little downside. We certainly face extremists in the gun control movement, but in terms of numbers, the passion is on our side of the issue, and anyone who is honest about it will acknowledge that.
Now lets bring in in the “War on Women.” The “War on Women” is largely a dog whistle from the left to the vast middle about control of reproductive choices. The calculation is that they are closer to the center of the issue than social conservatives, and they can sway the middle on this kind of rhetoric. The message is that the evil Republicans don’t want you to have any reproductive choices, while Democrats are all for whatever floats your boat. What concerns me about the “War on Women,” is even Bloomberg is jumping on that bandwagon (article highlighted in yesterday’s post). The question a lot of socially conservative voters need to ask themselves is why this is a winning formula lately. I think it’s a winning formula because reproductive choice is an issue that sways the middle in favor of the left.
The middle has shifted on a lot of social conservative issues. I don’t think this means social conservatives need to accept the radical pro-choice position of Democrats on this issue, but they do need to accept that abortion being either legal or illegal in all circumstances is a minority position and work within that framework. Coming out and saying abortion is wrong in cases of rape or incest is an extreme position. It’s like arguing that we ought to completely deregulate machine guns, or stand firm on gun rights for bank robbers. You can come up with beautifully constructed moral and ideological frameworks for why this ought to be truth, but that truth has exactly jack to do with winning elections, and winning elections is in the only way you get to set policy in a republican system of government. In most cases, a viable candidate is only going to carry some of your ideology. If you’re very lucky, he or she will successfully carry a lot of it, and how much of that they can carry depends on factors hardly related to your moral, ideological, or philosophical, views. It’s much more related to likability, marketability, and an ability to break down complex and difficult topics into soundbites that appeal to the instincts of people who barely pay attention.
Four years ago a fairly strong pro-gun social conservative, Bob McDonnell, handily defeated a moderate Democrat, Creigh Deeds to win a four year term as Governor of Virginia. Today, a very strong pro-gun, social conservative, Ken Cuccinelli, is looking likely to lose to a very strong anti-gun progressive, with numerous skeletons in his closet. The Democrats are playing straight from the “War on Women” playbook, and they are winning. Even Bloomberg is joining that bandwagon because he knows gun control won’t motivate anybody. That’s saying something. Whether we who oppose the left want to listen or not is another matter, but it bears directly on whether we’re going to start winning the important elections again. Social conservatives don’t need to give up all their issues, but it’s high time they started thinking about the same tradeoffs other issues have had to deal with in order to actually win.
Oct 29, 2013
Mike Bloomberg is putting nearly $3 million into Virginia’s elections across different races now. Politico is also reporting that Bloomberg has made smaller investments in lower level legislative races.
For those gun owners who say that they aren’t concerned about the gubernatorial winner because the legislature will keep the gun control threat at bay, this may possibly change your calculations.
Oct 29, 2013
The White House Office of Public Engagement, which is under Obama’s favorite aide, Valerie Jarrett, is still somewhat on top of gun control as a primary goal of this Administration.
They are hosting weekly meetings with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action, the Center for American Progress, Organizing for Action and Americans for Responsible Solutions in order to plan out the future of more gun control in the next 3 years.
Interestingly, it would seem that Vice President Joe Biden has either been sidelined for not getting “the job” done before, or he’s just lost interest in it since there is no path to federal legislation. The gun control groups have now made it very clear that they are steering clear of federal gun control and focusing on the states.
Oct 29, 2013
The same company that built the nightmare that is Healthcare.gov is also responsible for the boondoggle that was the Canadian long gun registry. Mark Steyn does a great job at highlighting what their previous “success” means the American people can expect from just the website fiasco in Obamacare:
The registry was estimated to cost in total $119 million, which would be offset by $117 million in fees. That’s a net cost of $2 million. Instead, by 2004 the CBC (Canada’s PBS) was reporting costs of some $2 billion — or a thousand times more expensive. …
That works out to almost $300 per gun — or somewhat higher than the original estimate for processing a firearm registration of $4.60. Of those $300 gun registrations, Canada’s auditor general reported to parliament that much of the information was either duplicated or wrong in respect to basic information such as names and addresses.
He continues to explain that there was supposed to be a helpful toll-free number to support the database, but it was never used or really useful. Then, the company said that they just needed to start over, so they were given an additional $81 million, on top of the $2 billion already lining their pockets, to build a second registry. About 4 years beyond their deadline for the new registry, they still didn’t have a functioning product.
Interestingly, the gun registry isn’t the only other high profile failure of this company. Apparently, the Ontario government gave up a diabetes registry that the company was contracted to do after not meeting deadlines and being over budget, but the taxpayers were still out $46 million for a database that was never used.
Steyn also points out that despite these very spectacular and very public failures, the company’s executive brags, “[w]e continue to view U.S. federal government as a significant growth opportunity.” Your money, and now every detail of your healthcare decisions, are in the very best of hands…
Anyone want to bet that another “growth opportunity” they see for the federal government is another gun registry? It would be interesting to know if they have ever hired any lobbyists to push that type of legislation. If they could make more than $2 billion on the last attempt to simply register 7 million long guns in Canada, think about how much they would stand to make trying to register all of the guns in the U.S.