Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Dodging Bullets, Gun Issues

Do you support gun bans? Handgun bans? Want licensing? Want anything? Have an opinion.

Do. You. Know. What. A. Gun. Is?

Really - why can't either candidate answer this question like a Democrat and not like a person scared they might actually get the nomination and find themself saddled with a, like, position and stuff.


Ms. Hazelstein said...

Guns don't kill candidates -- the gun debate does.

This is a dead issue for dems. It was annihilating us five years ago and I think everyone just sort of agreed to stop talking about it.

(speaking as a private citizen, not staff!)

Anonymous said...

The problem is (and I mention this because I don't think Californian's realy get it) that for voters in many states in both parties, the gun issue is critical and Democrats are trying to waffle it because in some places their stand costs them a ton of votes.

If you live in the midwest or the south and you are outside of a major city say on a farm, then the odds are that you are a long ways from police protection if there is trouble.

For that reason, even more than the right to hunt, people in these areas worry about government limiting the use of their guns.

This issue cuts across party lines (as of 1993 a majority of NRA members were registered Democrats)and everyone at the national level knows it.

What Democratic candidates for President have been doing is to pretend like they are Pro-gun without actually taking a stand on an issue (who can forget John Kerry killing that poor rabbit in Wisconsin).

This idea was developed by a couple of consultant types who wrote a book on messaging that gets laughed at in any discussion among people with a background in advertising.

The problem of course with this very insulting strategy is that because the issue is very important to voters in these areas, they find out where the candidate really stands and you can't fake it. If you do, you not only don't get their support, but you also lose extra votes by coming across as a phony and usually the Republicans are smart enough to give the Democrats rope to hang themselves. In Kerry's case for example, he was hammered when he cast a key vote for the Brady Bill right before the election.

What Democrats need to do is one of three things. One of course which is not realistic is to find supporters in other places so you don't need people who consider the right to bear arms as one of the most important issues in deciding their vote.

The second is to have our candidate for President swear allegiance to the NRA which would probably stop them from ever getting through the primaries (although Howard Dean clearly tried for a while before he started waffling on his views) and the third and I suspect the best scenario (as it usually is) would be for the candidates to just be honest and take the hit. As I understand them, I believe that both Clinton and Obama support some type of either registration of guns or liscensing of gunowners. They should compare it to getting a drivers license, accept that it will cost them a whole lot of votes, but keep the respect they get for being honest and hopefully by being upfront, have the ability to put other issues in the forefront of the debate.

Most Blue Dog Dems voted against the Brady Bill, but I would submit that virtually no Democrat who follows politics ever expected that John Kerry would oppose it and if he had they would have been incredibly disappointed in him. But even though you try and appeal to all voters, you can't do that by being all things to all people.

Anonymous said...

There are plenty - PLENTY of Californians who feel strongly about gun rights as well. They are normally the ones who harbor delusions that their stash will be what stands between them and the big baddies that will attack home and hearth. They aren't the ones in the urban core where their kids are murdered daily.

It's, of course, the distance that keeps people safe most of the time. Less density keeps down the squabbles, keeps away the riff raff, etc. And then hunting, as a cultural expression of familial bonding and tradition is vastly more important than you're giving it credit for.

But of course, the better inquiry: we know that people cling to guns, and we have pat reasons for why (like what you and I have said), but we don't really talk about WHY.

I think Obama gets it. I'm sure Hillary does too, she just won't cop to it.

Anonymous said...

But the bigger problem in the contest for power is that people that agree with Democrats on 95% of the issues may not vote for them because of a real disagreement on the issue of guns and the question is how to deal with that disagreement. I still think in the end, the warts and all approach is best, but a lot of Dems disagree.