It’s a moment tailor made for Cecil B DeMille. Charlton Heston, clad in a snowy white robe, and holding a long woof staff, climbs a dais, raises his arms on high, and spreads the sea of turmoil currently surrounding the NRA, leading the organization to the promised land.
Ain’t happening Dooley. Heston is as dead as Paddy’s pig, and the NRA seems to be hell bent on following him to the grave. From long time Summers Eve product Wayne LaPierre feuding with Ollie “What, me worry” North, to LaPierre’s flagrant misuse of NRA funds for personal gain, to infighting i the boardroom, to a lawsuit against the NRA by its former advertising firm over payment, the powerful lobbying arm of the merchants of death now strongly resembles a tortoise flipped over on its back.
This is potentially devastating news, not only for Trump in his reelection bid, but for the GOP at large, Remember, the NRA more than tripled its normal expenditures on a presidential cycle to support Trump. But, as Politico is reporting, the assistance didn’t stop with just money;
The National Rifle Association aired an avalanche of TV ads and pushed its 5 million-plus members to the polls for Donald Trump in 2016, propelling him in the Rust Belt states that delivered him the presidency.
Trump is already trailing badly to almost every major Democratic challenger in every one of the rust belt states that he held or flipped in 2016. Trump is going to desperately need the organizational might of the NRA to churn out its members in those states in 2020 if he is to have any chance at all of recreating the tortured ledge he crawled over to electoral college triumph in 2016 again in 2020.
But it isn’t just Trump who needs the NRA. For decades, Republicans in general have done nothing more than make cozy goo-goo noises about the glories of packing heat, and then sat back and watched donations roll in from the NRA, as well as letting the NRA organizational might in states harvest the gun nut vote for them. And the problem isn’t just the NRA either. As Politico notes, the GOP is going to suffer from the loss of two other powerful allies;
With the Chamber of Commerce and Koch political network withdrawing from their once-dominant roles in electing conservatives, Republicans worry that three organizations that have long formed the core of their electoral infrastructure will be effectively on the sidelines.
The reason that this is such a critical issue for Republicans is the sway that the NR holds over its members in such key battleground states as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and North Carolina, and their ability to speak directly to sportsmen who have been dues paying members for years. Mixed signals from the NRA, or worse yet no guidance at all, could depress the NRA vote next November. And this could lead to disaster for the GOP, considering the fact that there are several GOP Senate incumbents, like Thom Tillis in North Carolina, who are facing potentially stiff reelection campaigns, and will need all the help they can get to survive, and keep the Senate majority in Yertl the McTurtle’s scaly flippers.
There is one more thing to consider here, and this could turn out to be an existential threat to the NRA politically, and by extension, a serious blow to the GOP. In 2018 post election polling, for the first time, when people for whom gun rights was the motivating issue that drove them to the polls, gun control advocates outpaced gun rights advocates at the ballot box. This led to the surprise ouster of several entrenched GOP House incumbents who had previously ridden the NRA gravy train to victory. The outrage at continued school shootings, and the aggressive grassroots activism of the youth in getting out the vote turned the tide. Another outcome like that in 2020, both in the House and the senate, with a weakened and disorganized NRA, could sound their death knell as the behemoth political lobbying force in American politics.
So, with all of the excitement surrounding the Democratic primaries, keep one eye on the ills currently befalling the NRA. And keep one ear cocked for possible upcoming news concerning the NRA and illegal foreign contributions being funneled through them to GOP candidates by Russia, now that Maria Buttina has opened that particular can of worms. The longer the NRA stays fractured and dysfunctional, the better it is for all of us who would like to see a movie sans a kevlar vest. And if ever there was a time to put the pedal to the metal for sensible gun reform, this is it. Because it just might be within our grasp at long last.