Cultural Bundling and the RKBA

This latest Dana Loesch video from NRA:

This has me thinking back a few days ago to Ken White’s article over at Popehat originally, but now in the LA Times as an op-ed, which I linked to in yesterday’s news post.

First, we could stop culture-bundling. We culture-bundle when we use one political issue as shorthand for a big group of cultural and social values. Our unproductive talk about guns is rife with this. Gun control advocates don’t just attack support for guns; they attack conservative, Republican, rural and religious values.

I get at this point in our political discourse, railing against this video is essentially pissing at the wind. The Obama Administration has successfully driven the sanity of this country’s body politic off a cliff.

So that brings us back to cultural bundling. I get that the prayer shaming that followed the attack in San Bernardino made that issue tangentially gun related. But should Obamacare be an NRA issue? Why use Dana Loesch to drag NRA into all these other right issues that have exactly shit to do with the Second Amendment?

If there’s anything that’s at all certain in politics, it’s that there is no such thing as permanent majorities. Without support from Democrats and people on the center-left, there will be no way to permanently secure the Second Amendment from the depredations of those who oppose it. NRA is tying (Loesching?) the Second Amendment to the fortunes of the conservative movement. It may be successful short term, but I worry NRA is shooting itself and the Second Amendment in the foot long term.

76 thoughts on “Cultural Bundling and the RKBA”

  1. Culture war is ending, (un)civil war is beginning? I rather hoped we could avoid it. But I get less sanguine every year. And prepping for it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    We lost the Sovereign States in the last one (for better and for worse). What will we lose in this one that all sides will miss?

  2. They have done a huge amount of damage in NY because Democrats do not believe NRA will support them regardless of their stand on guns. I get this from candidates every year.

    1. NRA did try to support most of the blue dogs in 2010, but when it comes down to it, they found out most of our voters weren’t really single-issue voters. That was bound to have consequences.

      1. It would be nice if NRA actually tried lobbying Democrats in the state legislature instead of refusing to talk with them.

        1. Jacob, I believe the NRA has liaisons in all states and fights for pro guns . They did in MD they were out voted , not that they did not try.

          1. Yes, I know that. I have met them and can prove they do not talk to Democrats. Lobbyists are required to file reports with the state listing who they lobbied and on what bills. NRA’s own paperwork shows they do not speak with Democrats.

            1. Did you consider the possibility that the legislators in question were the ones to refuse contact?

              You can’t lobby someone if they won’t talk to you or let you in their office.

              1. Yes, I did. Except myself and others don’t seem to have this problem. Plus there is the little matter of NRA not bothering to talk to openly pro-gun Democrats who are sponsors of positive legislation.

                1. Upon reflection, it occurs to me that we’ve had issues in the past with our ILA rep here in PA, (Same rep covers NH, and they’ve had issues too.), so it’s not a huge stretch to assume that other ILA reps could be doing a better job too.

                2. Jacob, Could you provide more details? Like what Democrats are pro gun in NY. I know there are some as the same in MD but their numbers are dwindling.

                  1. In the news right now is Democrat Ulster Co. Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum who publicly called for citizens to carry guns. He has gotten national attention for it and more than a dozen other local Sheriffs openly support him. Google him.

      2. Protect gun rights? You realize that a lot of the fights for our rights are in state legislatures, right??

    2. Interesting, given NY is one of the states noteworthy for having a large number of anti-gun GOP office-holders

  3. Wow. I don’t know where to begin.

    First – That video is really badly done. I would laugh at it, if I didn’t feel like it reflected on me.

    Second – Dana Loesch has to be one of the worst video commentators I have ever seen. Everything about her creeps me out!

    Third – This video is a data point that convinces me the NRA has passed a tipping point I’ve feared as I’ve seen it coming for a long time.

    Now, if I want to support gun rights and the NRA, it appears I’m expected to embrace an entire laundry list of issues having nothing whatsoever to do with gun rights. “Bundling,” indeed!

    1. Spot on.

      She’s a shrill harpy. Her delivery turns me off of wanting to hear what she says. The few times I’ve given her a chance, I’ve seen fury and invective combined with a marked scarcity of substance. I do NOT want her representing me.

      As someone who checks darn near every box of the NRA gun-owning stereotype, whatever it is the NRA is doing to support me/win me over/whatever feels like pandering and I despise it.

      The NRA has ONE job, and they could stand some improvement there.

    2. Agreed.

      Loesch is terrible, she seems one double skinny latte removed from channeling Jim Jones. After 30 seconds I had to skip through to see if it got better… it didn’t.

      I belong to the NRA and vote Republican because I’m a single issue voter. That issue is guns. However, the majority of the electorate does not vote based on a single issue. The NRA needs to recognize this.

      The NRA does not do itself or us any favors by branding itself as club for socially conservative, white, christian fundamentalists. I’m a member in-spite of those tendencies, not because of them.

      1. “I belong to the NRA and vote Republican because I’m a single issue voter.”

        But think for a moment: If you are a “single-issue” voter, and the NRA is embracing every wingnut issue under the sun, what makes them any different from the hundreds of other conservative outfits out there who all give lip-service to the RKBA, only because it is on the standard laundry list of to-be-expected issues?

        That — lip-service — applies to the Republican Party, too. I would bet that if a hard vote-trading time came, the majority of them would sell out the RKBA in a minute if it meant scoring a major gain for, say, the pro-life movement.

  4. At the national level Democrats must be defeated. Even the most “pro-gun” Democrat senator will vote for the most anti-Second Amendment Supreme Court Justice put up by an anti-Second Amendment president. They already have. Then what was all your fighting for?

    There is clearly a disclaimer at the beginning of the video that it doesn’t represent the NRA. She’s entitled to her opinions on other subjects but mainly focuses on guns.

    1. These bits are produced by NRA’s PR firm. But the idea that they can say that, have an NRA logo at the bottom, and disclaim any tie to what’s being said is laughable.

      1. ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC…. They all do it all the time. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, no?

    2. Right on, Maxpwr, there is no such thing as a pro-gun D-rat for the reasons you posted. I’m sick of people saying “I’m pro-gun and Democrat” sorry you ignorant fools you can’t have it both ways.

      1. I’m one of the most pro-gun people I’ve ever met, and my party affiliation has never been anything but (D).

        That being said, my voter registration/affiliation came about largely as a result of the primary process: PA is a closed primary state, and in my experience the vast majority of the substantive primary choices occur on the democrat ballot.

        The fact that this administration has used executive agencies to attack it’s political opponents has more or less sapped any desire I had to change party affiliation.

        1. Voting tactically is not bad when in a Democratic majority state.It helps to winnow out the worst of the Democratic candidates on the state level first.

      2. Exactly. Remember, every “pro-gun” Democrat is going to vote for Chuck “Take your guns” Schumer for majority leader in the next Senate. So much for being pro-gun.

    3. Yes. Democrats can’t be trusted.

      We saw this very phenomenon in 1994, when many pro-gun Democrats chose Party over principle and voted in the Clinton AWB.

  5. I don’t think it’s mere happenstance that gun rights are about the only thing left that Obama has been unable to get his greedy little hands on and snuff out, certainly not for lack of trying. For the most part I think we have to give ourselves on the back here. It’s about the only issue on the right that has truly seemed to transcend the most scorched earth partisan fights we’ve seen in the last 8 years.

    Dana’s video is spot on. I get that NRA should remain a single issue group and remain on point. But really, what is wrong (or false) with Dana’s category? The left has mixed messages all over the place trying to tie gun control to religion. It’s a messaging scheme that has failed and does not logically follow their narrative. I see Dana pointing this out.

  6. I also get why Dana in particular should be especially hacked off. She should be given some room here. She was, after all, the target of a violent video by “peaceful” anti-gun activists. These people using religion to tell the narrative of anti-gun talking points should look in the mirror.

  7. “The Obama Administration has successfully driven the sanity of this country’s body politic off a cliff.”

    I have to disagree with you on this point. I believe sanity went over the cliff with Gore vs Bush and Florida’s hanging chads.

      1. At least as far back as the late 1800’s and the beginnings of the progressive movement.

        1. Sure, it was heading in the wrong direction for awhile, but the election of FDR really drove things off a cliff…

          1. I would argue the T. Roosevelt and Wilson (escpecially) were marginally worse than FDR. He built on the foundations of the previous two. After Wilson, the country was well on the way to a socialistic government. Coolidge was a pause and Hoover was a prototypical RINO.

    1. Which Gore v Bush decision are you referring to?

      A lot of people don’t realize there were two.

      First Decision was 7 to 2 and said there were huge voting irregularities.

      Second Decision, which is the one most know of, was 5 to 4 which said due to the first decision, something needs to be done.

      Its not as simple as the media portrays it.

    2. I’d go back even further. At least to 1987 with the new Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate and the Robert Bork confirmation hearings.

      And an excellent case can be made for the election of 1980 too. Democrats were driven mad by the election of Reagan and the loss of the U.S. Senate majority.

  8. In case anyone did not read the Op-Ed, the author’s use of pit bulls to illustrate the “assault weapon” discussion was alone worth the price of admission.

  9. The NRA needs to remain a single issue organization, we will drive away our support otherwise. Consider the antithesis: culture bundling by our opposition works in our favor. Demeaning God drives religious people of all denominations, away from their cause, regardless of their stance on gun control. Poking fun at ‘rednecks’ will drive away 3/4 of south Jersey and central CA, and we know they don’t own guns! Divide and conquer is a great strategy, so bundle away opposition, and we will watch as you slowly paint yourself into a corner!

  10. You can always pick your friends, but you can rarely pick your enemies.

    The NRA played it straight and it worked, right up until the Dems decided that gun control was an issue that the big donors loved. Once it became a platform issue (in writing) then all those pro-gun Dems basically left stage left (see: Harry Reid). The NRA could not play it straight anymore. They had to team up or lose.

    The Dems accumulated power by building a caucus of “disaffected” voters – basically bitter people – and using them as the cudgel to get over the hump of national elections. They taught them to always vote the party line no matter what, because enemies are friends when they vote together. Or something.

    You can argue that their ministrations are hurting them – sub groups openly turning against each other and middle-Earth Dems leaving in droves – but you cannot argue that it worked for decades.

    The NRA was forced to team up, and that means they need to play along with someone. At this point Dem politicians will generally not help the NRA (at least, publicly) – they openly call the NRA the enemy. That was not NRA’s choice. That leaves conservative groups as possible friends.

    Team or die. I don’t think it’s a long-term winning strategy. I think it’s political triage. I don’t like issue bundling. But for now it might be the NRA’s lesser evil.

    And Loesch drives me nuts, too.

  11. I must admit there is a large population of pro gun folks that are anti religion and socially liberal. Fine. But these folks are not always single issue voters . I understand the discomfort of being lumped into socially conservative , GOD loving, pro guns voters . But these socons like Dana are gun rights strongest supporters. Understand that liberal democrats are the enemy of gun rights. They are into control . They are really Liberal Fascists. They are not you friends. But just as Jews should understand that their real friends are the Christians that support them Not the atheist Democrats.

    We are getting to the point of no fence sitters. Pick your side. At least the GOP are willing to trash traitors within their ranks like kicking Cantor to the curb.

    Even SE Cupp, a gun rights supporter says better Hillary than Trump. Now on basis of gun rights Hillary is worse than Trump . I am not a Trump supporter I do believe he will destroy the GOP. BUt at this point we are getting to breaking institutions and parties rather than slowly fixing them. Obama did too much damage to slowly reverse his totalitarian policies . The entire civil service has been ruined and will have to be broken. Too many fascists embedded in the executive branch. They will follow the leader rather than the law and Constitution See the IRS as example or the DOJ and EPA .

  12. Democrats that are gun rights supporters did not vote for Romney, who would not have done the damage that Obama has already. PA voters they voted in anti gun AG and Governor. They did the same in VA. So gun right voters did not take the effort to vote against gun grabbers. Why? Were the competitors too conservative? How did that work out.

    1. Yes.

      It’s very difficult for very pro-gun Democrats to vote for those who claim to be for limited government, –except when it comes to what a woman can and can’t to with her vagina. Or what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes. Or force feeding us fundamentalist fodder about “traditional family values”, ‘Murica is “christian nation”, et cetera, et cetera.

      The GOP had infected itself, and will fester for a long time, by adopting the religious fundamentalism for short term gain.

      There’s a small but growing minority who don’t want government in their gun safes any more than their significant other’s private parts. And looking at either party makes me equally nauseated.

      1. Nick . Yes that is my point. I understand the discomfort . Personally I do not believe that the main threat is from theocrats on the Christian side. BUT if you do then you will not vote against Democrats that promote gun control.
        The GOP is broad based and includes the evangelicals. However those evangelicals such as Falwell at Liberty espouses students to get a gun permit and to carry. So those are allies that I gladly accept

        1. I’ll gladly accept them *IN THE FIGHT FOR GUN RIGHTS*, but it’s difficult to stomach voting for candidates who also support the evangelicals’ pet culture war issues.

          The fundamental problem is the two party system. Washington warned us, but I’m afraid it’s too late now to change absent a huge upheaval.

      2. “–except when it comes to what a woman can and can’t to with her vagina.”

        So are you arguing that prostitution should be legal, or that murder should?

        1. I have strong so-called anarcho-capitalist tendencies, so while I think both are morally wrong, both should also be legal.

          On the other hand, if you kill someone (including having an abortion) then someone with an interest in that person’s life (including, for example, the father of that child) ought to be able to sue you for the loss of that life.

          Similarly, if you visit a prostitute, your wife should be able to divorce you, and sue the prostitute for interfering with your marriage.

          Having said that, I know that my position has no viability in our current political environment, so I have to side with the Republicans for now…

  13. Really we should be happy that at least one political party is pro gun. Think how hard it would be if the GOP was for gun control.

    1. “Really we should be happy that at least one political party is pro gun”

      I don’t believe they are pro-gun. I believe for now we have them by the balls and they need us, so will vote just pro-gun enough not to piss us off. So far, that is working.

      But that one political party is just as authoritarian as the other, only about different issues, so it just doesn’t add up that authoritarians would remain friendly to citizens having the ability to say “no” to them and make it stick.

      We already are hearing inklings of the idea that “rights” only belong to certain kinds of right-thinking people. That idea can and will be easily extended to gun rights, given the right scenario.

      I can easily fantasize a scenario where “leftists” form “militias,” and start shooting up, say, centers of pro-life activities. It would take about a week for definitions of “Real Citizenship” to be developed with criteria for just how much of a Real American you need to prove yourself to have gun rights.

      1. “I can easily fantasize a scenario where “leftists” form “militias,” and start shooting up, say, centers of pro-life activities.”

        Yeah, that’s what’s called “Pleease throw us in that brier patch.”

    1. Something crossed my mind as I read that story: perhaps the Democrats are expressing their interest in gun control because they think that they will inevitably win, and this will give them the “mandate” to create new gun laws.

      If so, this might very well backfire on them….

      1. Yes, you are right. I think the Democrats have deluded themselves on the chances of gun control winning. The Democrats are suffering from hubris, from ‘victory disease’ in the aftermath of Gay Marriage laws falling across the nation. The Democrats have deluded themselves that the nation is “at a tipping point” over gun control, deluded themselves by fundamentally misunderstanding what happened with gay marriage.

        This is a case where Democratic bundling of gay marriage and gun control is going to lead them to disaster, and cement them into 2nd place in national political power. The States where Democrats have control and use that power to really hammer the resident gun owners will serve as a warning to the rest of the nation of what could happen to them too if they let the Democrats take over.

        As for the Democratic Party, this new purging of pro-gun Democrats today reminds me very much of the purgiing of Joe Lieberman during the Democratic primary of 2006. Even though Bloomberg and his billions are largely the force behind the current purge of pro-gun Democrats, the fact is anti-gunners reside primarily within the Democratic Party.

        There are factions within the Democratic Party just as within the Republican Party fighting for dominance and control of the Party agenda. And within the last 20 years the Democratic Party has distilled down to its McGovernite left-wing core.

        I don’t think reaching out to Democrats matters. Todays Democratic Party is the party of gun control.

  14. I wonder if this concern over bundling is overwrought, at least from the pro-gun point of view. Which is the tail and which is the dog?

    According to 538, whether a person owns a gun is more descriptive than virtually any other demographic factor when it comes to Party identification.

    “Whether someone owns a gun is a more powerful predictor of a person’s political party than her gender, whether she identifies as gay or lesbian, whether she is Hispanic, whether she lives in the South or a number of other demographic characteristics.”

    In my opinion the primary issue which separates the Democrats and the Republicans is gun control.

  15. I’ve read through the comments without seeing the video. Now that I’ve seen it, I have a few thoughts:

    First, the video resonated with me. It’s difficult to say why, exactly, although part of it is that I identify with the type of “bundling” that was done in the video. I think this is a good thing for those who resonate with those issues.

    Second, I’d have to agree that the NRA shouldn’t be involved in the creation of such a video, or at least, it shouldn’t have the logo that ties it to the NRA. Ideally, we should have allies in “the Godless Left”, and such a video would leave a sour taste in their mouths. It would be one thing if it were Dana Loesch, even as an NRA spokeswoman, causing this sour taste…but with the NRA labeling, it’s specifically the NRA that’s causing the problem.

    I think “bundling” has both advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, it helps rally the troops; it is also possible to use a single issue as a “Vulcan mind meld”, as L Neil Smith causes it, to quickly evaluate if you’re going to generally like a candidate. (L Neil Smith said that if a politician can’t trust you with guns, that politician won’t trust you with anything.) On the other hand, “bundling” can also make it difficult to disentangle individual issues.

    And it doesn’t matter if you’re not the one bundling: if a group decides to “bundle”, you might just be stuck. This is true, whether we’re talking about the NRA, the ACLU, or even the Democrat and Republican parties. (As Brad pointed out, the Democrats are using “gun control” as a litmus test. To the degree they succeed, the NRA will be powerless to get Democrats on board to protect RKBA. This is especially problematic if, as others have described, the NRA has an inclination to avoid talking to Democrat candidates…)

    Bundling can be further complicated when you consider that even Libertarians have both pro-life and pro-choice groups…

    The general rule of thumb, I think, is this: decide what issues you’re willing to “die on a hill” for. For the NRA, it should be the Bill of Rights, with a focus on the 2nd Amendment. Anything extraneous to this will likely cause problems.

    (Having said that, Loesch is correct in the video, though: many people who oppose the 2nd Amendment also oppose our right to free speech…so even that criterion I provided might produce a few false positives…)

    1. “Loesch is correct in the video, though: many people who oppose the 2nd Amendment also oppose our right to free speech…so even that criterion I provided might produce a few false positives”

      This actually works for me. When I talk about guns, with someone who doesn’t know me, invariably they will say, “Oh, you think people should have the right to have guns, but not an abortion/gay marriage…whatever.” I love to tell them how wrong theyare.

      1. ““Oh, you think people should have the right to have guns, but not an abortion/gay marriage…whatever.””

        Not quite. Marriage is an issue where the government has no business sticking it’s nose.

        Abortion on the other hand, is an issue where the government DOES have an interest: The science is settled that government must recognize the unborn as a whole person at some point prior to birth. The government is then forced to take the stance that voluntary external termination of the unborn after that point is murder.

  16. I’ll take it a step further, it is the 24-30% of democrats that suppport gun rights that have prevented most of the major gun laws from being implemented. The NRA should be looking for MORE of them, not alienating them.

    Then again, they are less likely to join the NRA. It’s a financial decision by them.

    Universal background checks? We’d have them if it were not for Democrats voting against the party

    1. The NRA has to take chances on supporting Democratic Party politicians, or they risk becoming irrelevant. Not to mention, we are in a time in which the national parties have the least amount of levers of influence on their elected members ever. (For better and for worse).

      1. NRA HAS supported democrats. They supported Harry Reid for a long time, and it was arguably money well spent.

        That is, until the democrat party decided to make gun control a platform issue, and Reid decided that he wasn’t willing to go against the party.

          1. I’m under the impression that it was the legislators that changed position first, and that the NRA then responded to graded votes.

    2. The issue is that the Democrat party has undergone some very fundamental changes, especially of late. Specifically, the emphasis has been on toeing the party line and voting as a unified block. Further, gun control has become a party issue.

      At this point, it is becoming harder and harder to support individual “pro-gun” democrats because there are so many such people who have decided to turn on us rather than risk the wrath of the party.

      To give a specific example: My current Senator in the Commonwealth legislature is a Democrat. Prior to holding that office, he was fairly active in county-level politics. In that last capacity he had a solid history of voting for what would actually benefit county residents, rather than based on party loyalty. His early career in the PA Senate largely followed that trend. In fact, when he was last up for reelection, he was the lone Democrat I voted for (I cast my vote based on his voting record on the issue: He cast multiple votes in favor of what eventually became Act 10 of 2011). At this point, he is the LONE Democrat in the legislature from the County; Arguably it is specifically because of this history.

      That being said, in the last few years he has shown an increasing willingness to toe the party line rather than doing what would truly benefit his constituents. As a result, I cannot cast a vote for him, because I cannot trust him to buck the democrat party line on guns.

      Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that the democrat party has made gun control one of it’s platform issues; that means that pro-gun candidates/legislators are increasingly being forced to choose between their party and their principles. Because party loyalty and party money tend to go hand-in-hand, it becomes an issue of voting oneself out of office on principle, or keeping oneself in office by toeing the party line. Because most legislators aren’t actually dedicated 2A activists, that makes it a fairly easy decision for them…

      TLDR: Gun control has become a party-line issue because the democrat party wants it to be one; As such, it’s likely to be a party-line issue for activists for quite awhile: First, the dems need to have it driven home that gun control is a losing issue for them, and then they need to rebuild their 2A bona fides (and our trust/votes) from scratch.

      1. Agreed to a certain extent. And, since the D PARTY is making it a litmus test, that makes it harder.

        I just don’t want to see the NRA burn its bridges.

        1. Where bridges have been burned, the NRA was not the arsonist.

          For this reason, I don’t believe that the NRA can reasonably be the architect of replacement bridges: They proved their fundamental dishonesty (after all, an honest politician is one who stays bought).

          At this point, and for the foreseeable future, campaign contributions to democrats are a generally unwise investment. This is especially true when funds are given in advance of a positive 2A voting record.

          Unfortunately, the only ones in a position to change this are really the democrats themselves.

  17. I disagree The Democrats made gun control their issue. If democrats die as candidates then maybe they will learn The few Democrats that come from safe districts like Pelosi we can not influence But most Democrats had jumped the shark and no appealing to them is possible now.

    They do not accept facts or logic . The ability to fence sit is disappearing. So all of you that are socially liberal have to decide what issues are most important.

    1. I’m not saying that the NRA needs to support every Democratic Party politician, or even ones that are not obviously pro-rights. But they need to leave open the possibility that a D after the name forecloses NRA support for that reason only. The R in NRA should not be able to be translated as Republican.

      1. I agree that Having A “D” is not a reason to lose NRA support. Just if the “D” votes pro gun . If not then cut him off at the knees.

  18. As a pro-second amendment classical liberal (i.e. libertarian), I find it despicable that so many of you are willing to shoot gun advocacy in the foot just to keep it your own personal white evangelical club. I don’t need God to support gun ownership, anymore then I need socialism in order to support equal rights for sexual minorities. Pink Pistols FTW! By-the-by, many Pink Pistols members often talk about much more welcoming the gun community is then the gay community, so the “Christians Only: No Heathens Allowed” wing of gun owners is still (thankfully) not too odious.

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