What matters isn’t what the public believes. What matters is the issues that the public is willing to get out and vote for. By and large, people don’t care badly enough about gun control to throw out legislators who don’t do what they want. But the small minority of gun nuts do care very badly–and they get out and vote in partisan primaries with that same passion.
This is the nuts and bolts of it, and one reason I’ve always strived not to just be another blog out there reaffirming confirmation biases. When most people don’t agree with you, the only way you can win is to ensure there remains few people passionate enough about gun control to actually vote on it.
We’ve made tremendous strides in this issue over the past few decades, to the point where the number of issues weÂ don’t enjoy at least a plurality of favorable public opinion are few. But one reason I’m always very wary of tactics designed to antagonize rather than persuade is because being antagonized is what causes people to get off their asses and act. There’s always a tendency among our people to believe that there’s more public support for our issue than there really is. The article is correct to note that this doesn’t matter as long as there’s still a big enthusiasm gap, but let’s not pretend the other side doesn’t have a large pool of potential supporters they can draw from if only there’s enough money to reach them.
That’s where Bloomberg comes in, and where he can do the most damage. They are starting small, not asking for much of a commitment. That’s why you see them circulating a lot of petitions and easy stuff which don’t take a lot of thought or effort. We’ve seen when it comes to higher levels of engagement, they take more than *ahem* a little encouragement.
My big concern is money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy elections. Bloomberg can easily outspend us. If we don’t make up for it with our own enthusiasm, we could end up in big trouble, and it could very likely come quickly and without much warning.