Right now, everything seems to be going right for Team Blue. Legislative special elections are going their way (even if they don’t win), the President’s approval continues to slip, the ACA remains the law of the land and Republicans are struggling to regroup. Arguably, the only thing Democrats have lost on in recent months is the Supreme Court and lower courts being filled with conservative jurists.
But victory breeds hubris, which in turn breeds, well, let’s be honest, stupidity. One would think if things are going your way you would not want to rock the boat. But humans are a fickle species and we like to push the boundaries. Case in point: NY Congresswoman Kathleen Rice.
Last week, Rice, who represents the fairly liberal 4th District of New York, tweeted “I’m just going to say it,” Rep. Kathleen Rice wrote on Thursday. “#NRA & [NRA Spokeswoman Dana Loesch] are quickly becoming domestic security threats under President Trump. We can’t ignore that.” Maybe somebody should take her Twitter away.
Why Rice would throw a wrench into the ongoing feud between Republicans and the NRA we may never know. The GOP, with multiple vulnerable members in suburban districts up next year, has grown uncomfortable with the NRA’s recent tactics. Instead, what Rice did was give the NRA’s seemingly lost communications team a golden opportunity to tie Democrats to wanting to take away the firearms of its 5 million plus members, In turn, they give the GOP an excuse to rally behind the NRA, discomfort or no.
One has to give credit to the NRA for its assertiveness during the Obama years. They have won multiple court battles, prevented gun control legislation from being enacted in Congress and stared down the Obama administration for 8 plus years. But, those victories have largely kept the status quo and the NRA, in its effort to expand gun rights, has experienced push-back on multiple levels (on the like of allowing former felons to buy firearms).
America is far more culturally conservative and accepting of firearms than a mere 30 years ago. This has occurred even as the nation has become more secular, more socially liberal, and more urban. But, for the most part, many Americans accept firearms as part of the American way of life. If not for the NRA and its efforts this might not have occurred (especially under our former President).
Recognizing the need to continue to galvanize its members with a “we” vs. “they” mentality the NRA has attempted to turn the focus of preserving gun rights to the media. Specifically, the New York Times. NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch said in an April video the Times was a “untrustworthy, dishonest rag that has subsisted on the welfare of mediocrity. We’re coming for you.” Following this up, in June, Loesch went after opponents of the President and Hollywood elites with “The only way we stop this, the only way we save our country and our freedom, is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth.” I’m scared.
Interestingly enough, the Left went nuts and attacked Loesch and the NRA. They did not seem to notice Loesch was denouncing, not supporting violence. When Loesch says to fight violence with truth it’s hard not to see how she is the one arguing to fight violence without violence. Ideologues tend not to acknowledge reality.
Rice’s comments circumvent GOP worries over the NRA. They also galvanize cultural conservatives in places like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where voters are open to voting for certain Democrats, to come to the GOP’s side if only to preserve their perspective on cultural issues.
Rice, ensconced in a suburban/urban enclave, would not know what a voter in rural Wisconsin even looks like. If Democrats were smart, they would denounce her rhetoric and censure her. That’s not likely. Instead the party will probably continue to bumble onward and throw crumbs toward cultural conservatives if only to get a few of their votes.
The culture wars should prove fertile ground for Democrats. They win on gay rights, LBGT issues and abortion (if the Republican is Todd Akin). But, on guns, the party has lost time and time again. Why they would give the GOP an opening of this magnitude is beyond a rational thinker. Then again, humans are hardly rational, especially humans choosing politics as a profession.
Republicans will need all the help they can get next November to maintain their dominance in the states and hold the House of Representatives. Rice just gave them more than they could ever ask for by galvanizing 5 million plus voters, helping fill the NRA’s coffers with new monies and identifying a new threat the GOP base can rally against.