… what do you have to lose by bluffing?Â Larry Pratt talks a great game, but it’s mostly talk:
Pratt said the NRA may not want go all out against Sotomayor because her confirmation seems assured.
At least three Senate Republicans have said they would vote for her: Sens. Dick Lugar (Ind.), Mel Martinez (Fla.) and Olympia Snowe (Maine). Democrats control 60 seats in the Senate and leading Republicans have promised not to filibuster Sotomayorâ€™s nomination.
â€œI donâ€™t think they want to be seen as having lost a battle,â€ Pratt said of the NRA.
â€œTheir philosophy seems to be nothing ventured, nothing lost,â€ he said. â€œNormally, we can-do Americans say â€˜nothing ventured, nothing gained.â€™
Remember a while back we examined the sources of NRA’s political power.Â We also examined GOA’s fund raising.Â Now can someone explain to me how an organization that has 20,000 to 40,000 members, and who’s PAC only spent $147,000 dollars in 2008, has anything at all they can use to threaten a Senator’s seat?
Once you start thinking about that, GOA can score the Sotomayor vote however they want because they have nothing they are putting at risk by doing so.Â GOA only needs to be concerned about how they look to the people who send them money.Â They have no concern about the relationships they have on Capitol Hill, because they don’t have much to be concerned about.
Is it really smart politics to tell a representative “You’ve been with us on most everything we’ve wanted for all these years you’ve been in the Senate.Â And you’ve been with us on most of what we’re asking for this term, but if you vote to confirm Sotomayor, we’re going to flunk you.”Â Because this is essentially what GOA is doing.Â What incentive does the failing or low graded Senator have to care a whit about your agenda for the rest of his term?Â And if you’re GOA, what grassroots army are you going to send to vote him out when he’s next up before the voters?Â Where’s their electoral ground game?Â Their network of volunteers?Â Their well financed PAC?Â These are important questions. Because if a Senator crosses you, and you can’t defeat him, you’re done.Â He called your bluff.Â Do that times twenty, and pretty soon, you’re up the creek without a paddle.Â You will not have the votes to get the rest of your agenda, and you might end up weak enough for the opposition groups to run a bill against you.
The reason politicians pay attention to NRA is because they aren’t sure NRA can’t move enough votes and money to actually defeat them.Â But that uncertainty cuts both ways.Â Anyone who’s had any experience in working in or following electoral politics knows how many variables go into winning or losing an election.Â It is the political equivalent of war.Â Everything that happens between elections is diplomacy.Â We engage in diplomacy because war is risky, and outcomes can be unpredictable.Â It’s risky for both sides.Â What GOA proposes is to declare war on the Democratic Congress.Â A Democratic Congress that, so far, is willing to pass pro-gun measures, and is wary of running gun control.Â This is foolish beyond belief.
NRA’s grading system is like an axe.Â Every time you chop a piece of wood with it, it gets a little more dull.Â So far, we’ve successfully split some pretty tough logs, but we’re only about halfway through this wood pile.Â The only opportunity to sharpen the axe comes at election time, and we’re still more than a year away from that.Â In the mean time, there are people demanding that we swing wildly at the marble pillars, in hopes that we’ll split them.Â Well, maybe we will, and sometimes you do have to take a swing, and risk it all.Â But you should understand what you’re risking.Â We have to keep the axe sharp.Â We still have ATF reform we’d like to move.Â We have D.C. gun rights to restore.Â We have National Reciprocity to try to pass.Â There’s a lot on the agenda.Â We may also face a situation where Obama replaces one of the Heller five, and in that instance, we will need to swing the axe at marble.Â NRA would be irresponsible if they did not keep an eye on the overall agenda, and instead engaged in the kind of brash grandstanding that is a particular proclivity of Gun Owners of America.