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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

It's Official: Gun Debate Proves GOP's Learned Nothing from 2012

In the immediate aftermath of President Obama's reelection, there was a lot of talk about how the Republican Party would need to increase their demographic appeal. Mitt Romney's lily-white electorate was not nearly enough to put him in the White House and discounting woman voters cost him dearly. The math no longer works, catering to the whims of the largest minority is no longer enough, the southern strategy is dead. If there's a lesson for Republicans in their 2012 debacle, it's that they can't afford to continue to alienate large swaths of the voting public.

But, as I'm so fond of pointing out, learning lessons is not something Republicans do. So, at a time when they should be broadening their appeal, they're narrowing it further. You could take this Politico article and replace every instance of "NRA" with "the Republican Party" and it would be entirely accurate:

Pollster Frank Luntz, who has studied attitudes about gun control, said on Wednesday that he doesn’t “think the NRA is listening” to the American public in the wake of the massacre of 20 children at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school.


↓ CONTINUED AFTER THE JUMP ↓

“The public wants guns out of the schools, not in the schools,” Luntz said on CBS’s “This Morning.” “And they are not asking for a security official or someone else. I don’t think the NRA is listening. I don’t think they understand most Americans would protect the Second Amendment rights and yet agree with the idea that not every human being should own a gun, not every gun should be available at anytime, anywhere, for anyone. At gun shows, you should not be able to buy something there without any kind of check whatsoever.”

He added, “What they are looking for is a common sense approach saying those who law-abiding should continue to have the right to own a weapon, but don’t believe the right should be extended to everyone at every time for every type of weapon.”

If you doubt my argument that the NRA and the GOP are hand in glove on this issue, consider this Bloomberg headline: "Senate Republicans Agree With NRA, Oppose New Gun Laws." For Republicans, as with the NRA, an assault weapons ban is a no-go. As is a ban on high-capacity magazines.

But a recent Pew Poll found that a big majority -- 65% -- believe that assault weapons make America less secure. At the time, the poll found no partisan advantage on who was better at handling gun policy, but that was during a time when Republicans were wisely keeping their big yaps shut on the subject. After the school massacre in Connecticut, the GOP basically went into hiding. Now that NRA chief Wayne LaPierre has broken the ice by suggesting we throw money at the problem of gun violence and dump more guns into schools, Republicans apparently feel it's safe to come out now.

And, as always, they come out on the side of their big donors. If it's people vs. corporations, the GOP will always choose corporations. Anyone who believes otherwise is a chump. And the NRA represents corporations -- the people part of it is a front. It represents gun manufacturers, suppliers, and merchants. Doubt me? When Luntz says the NRA isn't listening, he includes their own members. His polling shows that NRA policies don't reflect the opinions of NRA members. Instead, they call for the sale of more guns and more ammo -- exactly what you'd expect a trade association of arms manufacturers to do. They represent gun owners in the same way that tobacco companies were representing smokers by denying their products were unhealthy -- i.e., not at all.

And if the NRA stands opposite public opinion on this issue, so does the Republican Party. At a time when the party should be bending over backwards to attract new voters, they're becoming more and more an elite and exclusive club of people who hold unpopular opinions.

You'd think that this would've been the year that they finally wised up and realized that constantly shrinking their base was a really bad strategy -- not in the long run, but in the now. But you'd be wrong. Republicans don't learn things, they tell everyone else what to think. And they're apparently so intent on dictating the proper way of thinking to everyone that they're completely unaware that most of us have stopped listening.

-Wisco

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