Tuesday, December 15, 2015

An Idea Whose Time Has Finally Come?

There's actually some good news in some new polls about the biggest fears of Americans. The Beltway loves to talk about how afraid the public is over terrorism. A new polls shows that this is true but that the public is also very concerned about gun violence.

"As President Barack Obama is set to address the public after the terrorist shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., Americans are split on their biggest worry — with 36 percent saying it's a terrorist attack and 31 percent saying it's gun violence in general, according to a new MSNBC/Telemundo/Marist poll."

"Another 17 percent said their biggest worry is being a victim of police brutality."

"The results break down along partisan and racial lines: 60 percent of Republicans say being a victim of a terrorist attack is their biggest concern, versus just 22 percent of Democrats who say that."

There was actually another poll mentioned on cable news a few days ago-I can't find it yet-that showed in another poll gun violence polling higher than terrorism. Of course, it's silly to divide up gun violence and terrorism as two mutually exclusive things a number of acts of terror use guns. You are more likely to be the victim of gun violence than terrorism-but of course some gun violence is terrorism so again it's a ideological distinction to take gun control off the table and out of the discussion.

But despite the attempt of the GOP and much of the Beltway press to try to marginalize gun violence in favor of 'terrorism' the public is rightly concerned about gun violence.

Another good sign in this direction: Dems running for office are now more sheepish about having an A ratting from the NRA than an F.

"Gun control becomes a litmus test in Democratic primaries. In Ohio, Nevada, Florida, and elsewhere, Democrats who were once cozy with the NRA are facing questions and attacks in primaries."

"The new wave of attention to this issue from the left, which has watched closely as Hillary Clinton embraced gun control from the bully pulpit of a presidential campaign, signals a strategic shift for Democrats in some parts of the country. The party once let its moderate members off the hook on gun-related votes, understanding that Democrats from swing districts needed to hew closer to the NRA’s positions in order to survive politically."

Read more:

This is a classic example of what scorched earth opposition gets you. I've pointed out how the GOP House in 2011 in retrospect shot itself in its own foot by refusing to compromise with the Democrats at all. The Dems were willing to give them 85 percent spending cuts for just 15 percent tax hikes and the GOP just said no as usual.

Nancy Pelosi suggested canceling the Bush tax cuts for those who make over $1 million-when the Dem desire had been to end it for everyone over $250,000. The GOP just said no. But the joke ended up being on them when in the 2013 fiscal cliff, the GOP ended up having to accept the end of the tax cuts for everyone over $450,000.

My way or the highway usually leaves you on the highway. And so it is with the NRA. They have been very successful for years in opposing any and all gun control no matter how reasonable and modest.

But this scorched earth opposition is leading to a backlash that may ultimately lead to much bigger demands than would otherwise have been the case. Many are now turning on the NRA.

"House candidate in Nevada, former state House Speaker John Oceguera, worked to build up his pro-gun credentials before a 2012 run for Congress. The Democrat is running again in 2016 but singing a different tune: Oceguera said he was “fairly pro-gun” in the past, but he thought “enough was enough” when Congress voted down a pair of gun-control measures a day after the San Bernardino attacks. Oceguera then renounced his NRA membership. Another candidate in a four-way primary, state Sen. Ruben Kihuen, recently wrote a letter urging his state legislative colleagues to ban people on the terrorism watch list from buying guns, a popular proposal that nevertheless failed in Congress recently."

"In central Florida, near where George Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin in 2012, two Democrats are already fighting over their gun-safety bona fides. State Sen. Darren Soto, long mentioned as a future Democratic star, earned an “A” rating from the NRA in 2012. His record in the state Legislature includes a controversial vote regarding leaving guns in workplace parking lots, a measure that was opposed by Disney and other major Florida corporations."

"Candidates with checkered records on guns will still be able to explain their choices, but they’ll have to do it delicately, said Martha McKenna, a Democratic consultant, who compared the shift in public opinion to gay marriage."

"I think candidates who carry ‘A’ ratings from the NRA into a race, but now have a more middle-of-the-road opinion on guns, are representative of where our country is,” McKenna said. “The country is changing. … Candidates have an opportunity to do that as well, if they handle it the right way.”
“It depends on their overall record,” said one national Democratic strategist, granted anonymity to discuss primaries. “So if it’s one issue or one vote with a reasonable explanation, that’s one thing, but if it’s part of a larger pattern, of a conservative versus liberal voting record, then it’s a problem.”

Read more:

If the NRA had cooperated more in the past, if it showed even the slightest sensitivity to the argument that after Sandy Hook maybe some things need to be rethought it could have weathered the storm. But now it's turning gun control into a litmus test in the Democratic party.

It is just one issue but it's a very important issue for Dems in this cycle. The President said it might be time to vote singe issue for a few elections to get something done and he may be right.

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