Profile Piece of NAGR/RGMO’s Dudley Brown

This is a very interesting article for people who like politics, essentially describing one viewpoint on how Colorado was lost. I don’t know enough about Colorado politics to have any insightful commentary, but the state, like many other western states, strikes me as having a pretty strong libertarian streak, much of which I’d imagine is incompatible with Brown’s very strong social conservatism. There’s a strong current in the GOP base, and especially in the Tea Party, that if we just run candidates that are conservative enough, we’ll never lose. I’ve never believed that to be true, and Colorado is evidence. You can run candidates that alienate other parts of your coalition, and hand the election to your opponents. That if we just run someone conservative enough is a myth peddled by talk radio hosts that making their livings telling people what they want to hear. The reality is getting to enough votes to win an election is not so simple.

Brown may be correct that the Democrats in Colorado have really stepped in it with the gun issue. I hope he’s correct in that. But for gun rights to be secure in Colorado, or anywhere, over the long term, you have to have a workable governing majority, and sometimes that involves making compromises. That would seem to be something Brown has trouble with.

35 thoughts on “Profile Piece of NAGR/RGMO’s Dudley Brown”

  1. I really don’t get the GOP and its social conservative nonsense. As a life long GOP member, I’m getting pretty sick of candidates who step in the abortion bear trap and stay stupid stuff. I’m a fiscal conservative and believe in states rights. I don’t want gov’t defining marriage. Be cause I believe in limited gov’t I’m pro choice and don’t think the gov’t should be telling you what you can and can’t do with your body. I’m anti death penalty not only because it’s cruel and unusual punishment but also because it’s not effective. I certainly hope we get more libertarian boat rockers in the GOP and they start making more noise. If the GOP sticks to social norms of 50 years ago, they’re going to all be out of office.

    1. To be precise, states have powers. The People have rights.

      The States surrendered some of their powers with the 14th Amendment, and allow the Federal Government to step in where necessary to protect the rights of the people.

      We need to stop pushing the “state’s rights!” line. First, it makes us look like Stars & Bars flying neo-Confederates once it is condensed to a sound byte. Second, in the long run, that philosophy means that we will NEVER roll back the 2A violations occuring in large parts of the country. If you plant your flag on “State’s Rights!” then that means that NY, CT, CA, etc have the “right” (and power) to infringe on the first ten Amendments to the Constitution as much as they desire, the rights of the people be damned.

      I don’t think we want to surrender half the country just yet for a “state’s rights” argument. We can agree that the powers of the federal government should perhaps be lessened in favor of enhancing those of the states, but not at the expense of the rights of the people.

      1. No, states DO have rights — two categories:

        1. States have property rights over property owned by the state government. These are pretty much the only rights a state can enforce against a person — if the state didn’t have property rights, they couldn’t charge you with theft for just taking government property. (Likewise, the federal government has property rights over federal property.)

        2. States have rights in relation to other states or the federal government (under the Constitution, they have delegated their rights in relationship to foreign nations to teh federal government.) For example, land may not be taken away from one state and used to create a new state, without their consent.

        The Supreme Court has referred to specific rights of states, in cases where a state was a party. As recently as SIX WEEKS AGO (majority opinion by Sotomayor — and she’s not exactly an unreconstructed Confederate sympathizing segregationalist.)

        The guys who wrote the Constitution, wrote and argued over the Bill of Rights, referred to State’s Rights — and NOT as a codeword for slavery and rascism.

        Heck, nations have rights, in relation to other nations. (Google, “rights of belligerent states”; note that “state” in this context means “nation”.)

        The fact that a state can sue another government (state or federal) pretty much establishes that they do have rights. Access to the courts as a civil plaintiff (as opposed to a criminal prosecution) is a “right”, not a “power”.

        Note also that the People have “Powers” in addition to “Rights” — the Tenth Amendment doesn’t even mention “rights” — but it reserves all unenumerated “powers” to the states and the People (but doesn’t state which ones revert to the states and which are still retained by the people; the idea being the state constitutions will make that split).

        What states lack are civil rights and human rights.

  2. Something I believe that article does not touch on enough, is that NAGR is one of several/many fronts for a Dominionist Christian network that is into EVERYTHING conservative, using their respective issues to promote candidates and other individuals who will promote a broad religionist agenda, even if they are at best only so-so on the organization’s nominal issue. Each has a front man (like Dudley Brown) for its public face, while the behind the scenes operatives and worker-bees are usually the same several people. But invariably their “Christian” sectarian affiliations will be the same, or at least very similar.

    1. I think Dudley Brown is motivated by one thing: money in Dudley Brown’s pocket.

  3. Equally vexing is the view that if the GOP just puts someone “moderate” enough they’ll easilly win elections. See the last two presidential elections.

    Or look at Christie who is ridding the mantle of “electability”.

    Even though he’s just as hostile to libertarian views as any Social Con. Perhaps moreso.

    Which shows a “centrist” has the same problems of coalition building and handing the election to opponents.

    Many see the election as the Dem versus the Mayor from Footloose or the Dem versus the wanna-be-Dem.

    And when it’s framed like that…

    Which is how a state with a libertarian streak can end up with California lite governance.

    1. Christie seems to do doing pretty well at coalition building in New Jersey, considering he’s a Republican in a very Democratic state who is expected to sail to re-election to the point where no Democrat wants to take him on. I am not happy with Christie’s views on a great many things, and I won’t support him if he has national ambitions, but it’s hard to argue he hasn’t built a coalition around him that can win. The issue then is whether you might as well vote for a Democrat, but if you look at Christie’s predecessors, I think it’s hard to argue.

  4. From the article:

    “He’s built RMGO and the Na(onal Associa(on for Gun Rights (NAGR) into a double-barreled fund-raising machine that bullies anyone who compromiss Brown’s pro-gun, anti-abortion, anti-gay agenda”

    Bingo! There’s my problem with these “single-issue” front outfits: If I’m going to listen to what a “gun rights” organization tells me about why I should support something or someone, I don’t want to have to wonder whether the real reason for endorsement isn’t something else. Any parrot can be taught passable gun rights rap in about fifteen minutes, and I don’t want to wonder if maybe the parrot doesn’t give a crap about gun rights, but has been put on his pedestal because he would be death on gays.

    1. The problem is you can’t support a politician on gun rights alone, just like any other single issue. What about their stance on the UN (which impacts gun rights), federalism, judicial restraint, etc. None of these other issues are “gun rights” specifically, but they impact us.

      1. But, I want my candidates — and the outfits that front for them — to be completely honest as to where they stand on those issues. Then I can decide for myself, “tactically,” or on principle, how to vote. I remember one example of a state-level “single issue” RKBA group in another state, that refused to support a gun-rights incumbent with a pristine record on guns, because he was pro-choice. Their excuse was that if they supported him, they would lose to many of their members who were pro-life. That was bullshit — it was because of where their stealth leadership was coming from.

        I also saw in that article, the description of how Brown was being sued by a gay couple whose wedding image was used for an anti-gay political mailing. I am weighing how much of the story to tell, but Brown did not author that concept. It was used by one of the background people in their network, in a congressional campaign back in 1998 (I think). That candidate, appealing to “friendship,” called me up and pried a sizable (for me) donation out of me, for what he promised was going to be a “real gun rights campaign.” He lied. It wasn’t. He used my money (and presumably a lot of other people’s) to do a homophobic hate-mailing exactly like the one Brown is alleged to have made. If guns were mentioned in the campaign at all, I certainly never heard about it.

        You can think as you will, but I would not have donated money for that purpose. So, as a gun rights advocate I was suckered, using my soft-spot issue, by a Liar for Jesus (though in those days I first started to refer to them as the less concise “Bear False Witness for Christ Crowd.”) I don’t know if my candidate who used that tactic in the ’90s originated the idea, but I know that today he works with Brown. You do the math. Any chance gun rights advocates are being suckered?

      2. That’s something every individual has to weigh when they cast their vote. It depends on what you view as a workable political system. Much more than parliamentary systems, ours depends quite a lot on civil society to do coalition building, since parliamentary systems can form coalitions within the government.

        Political parties are the instrument of coalition building. Ideally, parties bring interests from civil society into the tent and form them into a political machine that can win elections. I don’t have a use for groups like NAGR from a gun rights perspective because I’m unwilling to accept the other baggage Brown drags along with it. I make enough compromises every time I punch a ballot, I don’t need to make those same compromises at the civil society level. I want my gun rights groups advocating for gun rights, and I, as a voter, will weigh that against other issues I may or may not be willing to vote on.

        If a home for gun rights could be found within the Democratic Party, I’m happy for that, and would expect pro-gun civil society to try to exploit that opportunity. Because it’s an issue I care about, it gives me more options if I don’t want to hold my nose for and punch the ballot for whatever skunk the GOP is running. It’s also far better for any issue if it has bipartisan support. The problem with mixing issues is as soon as you do it, you have to start making compromises as to what’s important to you. I’d rather make that compromise for myself. I don’t want Dudley Brown making it for me.

        1. I don’t mind a group mixing issues — as difficult as that may be — if they are up front that they are doing it. They can handle any conflicts their way, and I’ll deal with them my way. But I can’t say it too many ways, when they style themselves as “single-issue,” while in fact placing high (or higher?) priorities on “other” issues that they don’t mention, or barely mention, that is fundamentally dishonest and is deliberate deceit. In my opinion, that is just as dishonest as the other phony gun groups we have spent hours excoriating in other threads. That they are dishonest “conservatives” rather than dishonest “liberals” imparts absolutely nothing to be preferred, in my book.

          When I was first active with GOA, more than 20 years ago, I would wonder why I got faxes from them that came from an “English First!” fax machine. In those extremely naive days (I was young and a believer; barely into my forties) it never occurred to me that it was because they were the same organization, operating out of the same office, with the same equipment; or that both were fronts for something else.

  5. The problem is your notion of abandoning the things you personally don’t like, and foisting “compromise” on those things to build coalitions in your view won’t work very well and can easily backfire on gun owners and effectively shut us out of the race. It’s actually what has happened more often than none. I have yet to see a “libertarian on social issues” Republican win outside of his very small home congressional district. To play on a national scale you can’t have contradicting values or even your base won’t turn out for you. Look at Romney.

    Take the immigration battle. If the GOP wants to win immigrants they are pushing to legalize, they can’t just go libertarian all of a sudden and expect to win on a national scale. In the same breath as “we must bring them in from the shadows,” Republicans also admit that most immigrants are conservative Christians who favor some level of government intervention in various matters. So… where does that leave gun rights in the national political scene? That is a big issue, and one with an unknown end, but it’s one of several ways that your argument can blow up in your face.

    1. I think the GOP’s best way to be a player again on the national scene is to become populist and start making sure that people actually have enough money in their pockets to buy those guns in the first place.

      1. I’m not sure I disagree that embracing populism isn’t the way back to a winning coalition. And that pains me, because I am probably farther from populism than from the GOP coalition at it stands now.

    2. “I have yet to see a “libertarian on social issues” Republican win outside of his very small home congressional district.”

      Point of inquiry: Where else can he win?

      1. Exactly.

        My point is that that view won’t get a Republican who is otherwise strong on gun rights nominated in a national setting. Also, most folks who are “libertarian on social issues” also don’t let that libertarian strain carry into other areas such as gun rights, electronic privacy rights, etc. It’s more of a unicorn. So Republicans really do need to be decisive to actually appeal to libertarians (if they, in fact actually have a desire to) or, at the very least, be principled enough to appeal to enough conservatives/libertarians to form a true coalition that distinguishes them from the “gang of 535” that otherwise rules Washington.

        1. I guess this is a pointless “what if?” argument, but I would submit that if he hadn’t been primaried out by the conservatives in the early Republican primaries and caucuses, Gary Johnson, with a record as a re-electable libertarian-leaning Republican governor, would have been far more electable than Romney turned out to be. And while I wasn’t starry-eyed over Johnson, by any means, he nonetheless provided a mix that I found acceptable enough to vote for.

    3. To some degree you have to expect coalition members to shill for their interests within the coalition. It is to be expected. The question is whether the coalition members can live with each other, and give enough here and there so you that can win elections. Any time I cast a GOP vote I’m having to compromise on things I believe in. It’s going to necessarily be that way for most people, because that’s what being in a coalition means. The question then becomes what you do when you no longer have a coalition that can win elections, and how you grow your tent.

      1. I’ll apologize again for perhaps saying it too many ways, but your vision of a coalition depends strongly on all participants being up-front about their agendas. My constant theme is, the subversive nature of people who use stealth and decoy issues to advance agendas they won’t own up to. I had more than enough experience with that here in PA back in the 1990s.

          1. I’m tempted to say “easy,” but it’s not, really. The answer though is to look for it, and not to trust that everyone who can spout about the Second Amendment really cares about the issue. Most of the stealth guys know we’re just to easy.

  6. The guys running the Recalls in CO have absolutely nothing nice to say about RMGO.

    They note that Brown has been fundraising off the recalls, but hasn’t done a damn thing to help.

  7. Other people who have associated with him and then shied away have told me their suspicions that while Brown personally lives very well, a lot of the money raised for guns gets diverted to other groups for other issues. There is a reason most of these groups are drop-dead protective of the secrecy allowed 501(C)(4)s as to where their funding comes from, and it’s not to protect the privacy of you and me. It’s so their members don’t question why the money they donated to protect their (e.g.) gun rights, is being diverted to other groups and other issues. And, it can flow both ways, as needed.

  8. Colorado resident here. I’ve met Brown a bunch of times and no thanks. He is emblematic of the problem with self-described social conservatives. Yes I agree with him on guns, though I wish he was less a dick about it, but I very much disagree on the government getting a say in ‘moral’ issues. You are not a small government conservative if you want Brown’s big government ‘conservative’ agenda.

    We (gun owners) will win in Colorado and we will do so in spite of folks like Brown, who have a much different and expansive agenda.

    1. I consider myself a “classical” libertarian, by which I mean, what “libertarian” meant 25 – 30 years ago, not what it means today — whatever that is. It is more than that many years that I have listened to the “conservatives” argument that libertarians are supposed to put aside their philosophical differences with conservatives, and cooperate on achievable, shared issues. I fell for it until I noticed that the cooperation was never reciprocated; libertarians were supposed to support conservative candidates for their, say, economic positions, while for conservatives, anything that violated their social conservative laundry-list was a poison pill that obligated them to attack a libertarian-leaning candidate viciously.

      Having awakened to that, I am thinking there is nothing dishonorable about reversing that scenario.

      1. I can see what you are saying, Andy. I think this current debate between Chris Christie / Rand Paul underscores some of that. The latter seems to support cooperation with libertarians even though he leans social conservative, while the former wants to have nothing of cooperation with libertarians and would rather go his own way. He would even go a step further and pull out the long knives and actively campaign AGAINST civil liberties to prove his stance. Such is the scary and volatile world of Republican politics right now. And yet another presidential race is upon us already it seems…

  9. Dudley Brown spends far too much time badmouthing the NRA and too little focused on gun rights issues. Dudley Brown’s main focus is Dudley Brown.

    He lost my support years ago.

  10. I’m not a fan of Dudley Brown–but he does far less harm to the GOP, gun rights, and freedom in general than David Frum and his pet dog Christie. So why aren’t you condemning them?

    1. What harm is Christie doing to the GOP? Last I checked he can’t affect policy anywhere except in New Jersey.

      And Frum I have attacked before, when he’s open his trap on the gun issue. I am not a fan of Frum. I don’t consider him to be a moderate progressive.

      1. Candidate Christie does as much damage as candidate Romney did. He will not listen, run an elitist campaign, and would actively campaign against otherwise helpful conservative/libertarian candidates by opening his puss. No thanks.

  11. Christie will sign anti-gun leggislation soon in NJ. I bring him up because lately he’s been acting as Frum’s attack dog: he copied Frum’s misleading statement that Kentucky takes in money from the Feds. (Actually, Ft. Knox takes in money from the Feds; this is a clever way of Frum to say that all servicemen are mooching welfare recipients–when in fact it is Frum who fits that description. Not to mention, he’s lived in two countries and fought for zero).

  12. There’s no such thing as Dudley Brown of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners because RMGO has not existed for five years.

    They stopped filing any tax returns in 2007. Even after the Denver Post highlighted their incompetence in June 2012 (over a year ago) they never bothered to pay attention…

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