Another topic people have been speaking about lately is “How do we create a pro-gun insurgency within the Democratic Party.” This is a great, worthwhile topic, because if the gun issue enjoys bipartisan support, our fortunes won’t rise and fall with a single party. So what drives success? What’s driven our success, and this works regardless of party affiliation, is the single issue voter, and it is through the single issue voter that we can win among Democrats too.
Reality is that most of us here aren’t single issue voters, but I think most of us are near single issue voters. In other words, I’d be hard pressed to vote for anyone who’s a hard core Bloomberg-backed gun control supporter, regardless of party. But I’d also be hard pressed to vote for a true communist, fascist, socialist, or theocratic candidate just because I agreed with him on gun rights. I voted for Bob Casey in 2006, despite Santorum carrying an NRA endorsement in that race, and knowing that Casey’s A rating was a promise (at the time, now we know it was a lie) rather than a record, because Santorum had pissed me off on too many other issues. So the single issue has its limits. But nonetheless it ranks very high in my political calculus, as it does most of yours. We have to have these folks in both parties in order to win, and that means getting more people to politically identify as gun owners.Â It doesn’t matter worth a damn whether someone owns a gun or not, what matters is whether they politically identify as gun owners. One of my biggest fears is that we continue to improve our standing in polling and public opinion, but start losing the single-issue voters necessary to keep winning elections. The former doesn’t mean squat if you can’t keep the latter growing too.
In truth we’ve already seen how a pro-gun insurgency works in the Democratic Party, because it happened between 2004 and 2006 with the Blue Dog wave that swept the Democrats into power. The Democrats had been in the political wilderness for some time, and gun control got much of the blame from Democratic strategists, so they started running candidates whose views on gun rights reflected those of the districts they were running in. Combine that with broad dissatisfaction with the GOP, and you had a recipe for the Democrats taking the House and Senate. We actually did quite well in the 2006-2010 Congress. Better than we’ve done since, in fact. The problem is that the Democratic strategists thought they could piss off their districts on every other issue and that gun rights would be enough to save them. They were wrong.
So how did we get from a Democratic House and Senate being willing to pass things like National Park Carry to where we are now? Well, because the Chicago political machine are talented snake oil salesmen who have convinced Democrats that gun control is a winning issue rather than a losing one. Additionally, conventional wisdom in progressive-left circles is that Obama has created a new progressive-left coalition that is destained to forge a permanent majority, so they no longer have to care what those cousin humpers in flyover country really think. This delusion is believable, because the Republicans have been floating some spectacularly awful candidates, and have been weakened severely by infighting between the tea party and the establishment. But the Democrats can’t count on that to go on forever. Part of making the Democrats pro-gun again is just to create a perception that gun control is a losing issue by continuing to defeat anti-gun Democrats, and to do that, we need single-issue Dems that are willing to cross the aisle when it counts. I think the overwhelming defeat of Angela Giron in Colorado is strong evidence that such folks exist.
So that’s what we ultimately need: single issue voters in the Democratic Party willing to vote in Democratic primaries for pro-gun candidates, and become involved enough in their local party races so that the people in the party know that there’s a gun vote to be pandered to. More importantly that those party leaders know that that gun vote will cross the aisle in a heartbeat if an anti-gun candidate wins. There really isn’t any insurgency involved. It just takes winning elections.