Captive Constituencies

This is a cautionary tale for gun owners; though it may seem like we’re going a bit far afield at first…

Shelby Grad at the Los Angeles Times wrote an article, How Black Lives Matter became a thorn in the side of L.A. leaders, detailing the strained relationship between L.A. officialdom and the movement. To understand what’s happening here in The City of the Angels, you need to understand who the players are.

This is a Democrat town. It’s in a Democrat county. In a Democrat state. As such, it is run by people who learned to be masters of identity politics. You and I might hate that kind of approach to politics, but it works and they’re really good at it. Well… Most of the time they’re really good at it. This is one of those times when their Sith powers just won’t work. They’ve made their bones slicing and dicing the electorate into various interest groups, but what do they do when two of the more important slices are at odds with one another?

There are two very important constituencies for the Democrats in this city: Blacks and unions. They cannot win elections without Black votes and they cannot campaign without union money. Groups like Black Lives Matter-LA can have a negative impact on Black voter turnout. And since Blacks vote reliably for Democrats in this town, they form what’s normally a very solid base for the Party. Democrat candidates can count on a set number of votes from the Black community and they can thus spend resources elsewhere gaining the votes they need to win elections. However, unions, like the police union, donate heavily to the Party. Democrats can’t spend money campaigning for those votes outside the Black community if there is no money.

So what is the City’s Democrat machine going to do? They’re going to make a choice based on the answers to two questions: “How can you help me?” and “How can you hurt me?” I’ve heard that Democrat kingpin Jesse Unruh is the source of these questions. Unruh is better known for the adage “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.” When Democrats look at the police union, the answers are obvious: They can donate boat loads of cashy money and turn out union voters. They can also take their money, and their votes, and go elsewhere. The unions can either help a lot or hurt a lot. When they look at the Black community, the answers are also obvious: They can vote for Democrats, or they can stay home. So they can either help a lot, or… well… That’s about all they can do. They would never vote Republican, so they can’t actually hurt Democrats. They’re a captive constituency. There’s no downside to throwing them under the bus. So guess what’s going to happen.

So how does this relate to gun owners? We run the same risk of becoming a captive constituency.

The accepted wisdom in American politics is that gun owners vote Republican; and that’s usually true. It’s been true because Republicans are usually very pro-gun rights. But, of course, “usually” doesn’t mean “always”. It’s vital that we hold the GOP’s feet to the fire when it comes to the 2nd Amendment. It’s also vital that we recognize and support our friends who aren’t Republicans. The NRA does just this and it drives some conservatives batty. (Here’s a hint: The “R” in “NRA” stands for “Rifle”, not “Republican”.)

Republicans ask those same two questions. Gun owners can help candidates with not only votes and money, but we also help with volunteers. We put boots on the ground walking precincts. We stuff envelopes and make phone calls. But it’s also important that we know how to bring more than a little discomfort. The NRA and other organizations regularly ask candidates from both parties what their positions are on issues that are important to gun owners. And we just don’t ask; we expect answers. Many a candidate has learned not to ignore an NRA candidate questionnaire. An F rating from the NRA guarantees defeat in many elections.

For politicians, there is an upside to supporting gun owners and the NRA as well as a distinct, and painful, downside to threatening our liberties. No politician who isn’t named “Pelosi” wants to see stacks of orange cards appearing in mailboxes in their district opposing them.

Gun owners must guard against becoming a captive constituency. As many of the smaller slices in the Democrat coalition have learned, the math eventually runs against groups that a Party can take for granted; especially when there’s no downside, other than from a few angry tweets, that will come of shifting the Party’s priorities.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply