It’s really not often you’ll find me agreeing with the Internet trolls at Media Matters, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Media Matters linked to a portion of Wayne’s Speech at the NRA Annual Meeting, which I must have missed when we skipped out to cover the MDA protest. Here’s video for the context:
Wayne was quoted saying, “eight years of one demographically symbolic president is enough,” in the context of Hillary Clinton following Barack Obama into the presidency. What the hell is that even supposed to mean? Why bother with the dog whistle? Just come out and say “We don’t need another affirmative action token President,” and be done with it, because isn’t that what was really said?
What speechwriter of Waynes’s thought it was a good idea to put that jab in there? How did Wayne, who presumably might have practiced the delivery once or twice, not realize how this is going to sound to blacks, hispanics, and women? Are Ben Carson or Bobby Jundal “demographically symbolic?” Or what about Marco Rubio, Â Suzana Martinez, or Carly Fiorina, all of whom might throw their hat into the ring themselves, or be a sensible veep picks. It’s not just Republicans either. What about Democratic Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clark? At what point does one become merely “demographically symbolic?” I don’t understand the rules for this.
I am not coming at this from the same angle as Media Matters, because I don’t want to give NRA or Wayne a black eye; I want them to be more effective. I don’t believe this error is going to take down the NRA, and I don’t believe Wayne is a racist or sexist. His very capable executive assistant, who essentially runs his office, is a female minority. Whoever wrote or reviewed that speech made a very serious lapse in judgement. Before folks comment that I’m just tooling for the politically correct junta, and that there isn’t anything wrong with saying things that imply White Male Conservatives need to be in charge, there’s a bit of reality you need to understand.
One is that the issue has made tremedous progress among women. Each year there are more women and families on the NRA Annual Meeting show floor than the previous year. Bitter even brought out her brother’s whole family this year, since they live in the Nashville area. Where women go, families follow. It is very important to appeal to women, and dog whistling to white males is not how accomplish that.
Second, this issue has to reach out to blacks and hispanics, and win them over. You’ll hear criticism of NRA for not getting involved in the immigration issue. I agree they should not, because even if you stopped the flow of illegal immigrants completely, hispanics are still going to grow as a share of the voting public for the simple reason that they are having children at a greater rate compared to other demographics. You will not fix this problem with even perfect border control, only delay the inevitable.
NRA has no choice: it must reach out to women, blacks and hispanics if it wishes to secure the long term health of the Second Amendment. Polling among these groups show we have a base of understanding that we can use to get the conversation moving. Statements like Wayne’s not only don’t help us achieve our goals, but serve to reinforce the notion that NRA is an organization for White Male Conservatives. The implication is even stronger when Wayne makes that statement on a stage where the only people visible are other White Male Conservatives. NRA hasn’t had a female President since Sandy Froman left the stage eight years ago. Despite a huge influx of women into the issue, I don’t notice the nominating committe reaching out to try to attract more women on the Board.
If in ten to twenty years NRA is only an organization for White Male Conservatives, the NRA will become an irrelevant organization.