Isn’t it a little early to be talking about the 2014 elections? November is still a ways off. Before you know it, we’ll be inundated with political ads. Candidates and issues will be all the news is talking about, and we’ll be overloaded to the point of wanting to just get the darned thing over with already.
No, it’s not too early for gun owners, with all that needs to be done. Yeah, there’s more than just sending in an absentee ballot or showing up to earn an “I Voted” sticker on Election Day. First, everybody knows how to do both, right? And everybody is registered?
I ask because I’ve worked in elections as a poll watcher, and seen dismal participation, in an area where we were supporting a great pro-gun candidate and where we knew lots of gun owners lived. The apathy helped a committed and vocal gun-grabber win the day, leaving one of our own deep in campaign debt and wondering why he’d stood up to be counted, only to turn around and see so few standing with him.
You can be different and help improve the odds of electing representatives who support the right to keep and bear arms. Yes, you. But we need to get started now, and time’s a-wastin’. That’s because, even though the 2014 US midterm election will be held in November, Congressional primaries have already been held in several states at this writing, and will have been held in many more by the time this magazine goes to print.
Did you have a hand in vetting who comes out of those primaries? If not, are you just going to vote along party lines, regardless of if they earned your trust or not?
It’s more than just picking a congressman or senator, noting plenty of those seats are up for grabs—enough to change the balance of power. There will also be many gubernatorial elections, and elections for state, county and local representatives and measures.
Here’s a question. Without looking, do you know who your representatives are, at federal, state and lower levels? Do you know where they stand on the right to keep and bear arms? Do you know who their opponents are, and where they stand? If not, why not? The good ones need your help, right now, and the bad ones need your resolve to keeping them out of office and power. And if you don’t know what their position on guns is, how do you find out?
A preliminary step would be to go to their campaign website, and see if they even list “Second Amendment” as one of their issues of concern, and if so, what they have to say about it. Plus you can call their campaign office, speak to a staffer and ask them. But don’t just take their word for it. We may not all be from Missouri, but “Show me” certainly applies here.
Two resources to consult and compare are the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund, which assigns candidate ratings and endorsements, and Gun Owners of America, which also rates the contestants, albeit using its own criteria. If you find they’ve made substantially different assessments of the same politician, it shouldn’t take too much effort to find out why.
Additional resources that should not be overlooked are your state grassroots gun rights groups. If you don’t know what those are, and if you’re not already supporting them, you’ve been allowing others—citizens just like you—with lives and jobs and families and other demands on their limited time, finances and resources, to carry a load that ought to be shared by all gun owners interested in protecting and restoring recognition of our rights. Sorry, there’s no nice way to point that out.
You can also take the initiative by sending candidates specific, for-the-record questions about what they mean when they say “I support the Second Amendment.” Many do, and then either clam up or show their big “but” directly afterward, listing exceptions right out of the gun-grabber playbook, couching them as “reasonable” and “common sense gun safety measures.” Crafting questions designed to elicit unequivocal answers, such as “Do you support Constitutional carry?” and “What specific gun laws will you work to get repealed?” don’t lend themselves to weasel-wording. While it’s always possible a politician will lie to get elected (no kidding!), pinning them down to specific commitments makes holding them to their explicit promises a lot easier—and helps expose those betraying pledges they never intended to keep. It also serves to identify the two-faced and the spineless, who either ignore your questions, or give you back generalized platitudes that duck actually answering any hard questions.
Other considerations can also come into play. For instance, so-called “pro-Gun Democrats” may have a good track record of voting the right way on gun bills because that’s a priority where you live, and any other stance would cause them to be sent packing. The party knows that and accepts it as a cost of getting or keeping a seat. Do these politicians then turn around and support Obama, called by NRA “the most anti-gun president ever to occupy the Oval Office”? How do you square, say, a senator, who voted to confirm Eric Holder as attorney general, or Sonya Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, particularly noting their likely influence on future Second Amendment cases?
Conversely, why would you vote for a Republican sell-out on guns? Isn’t voting for “the lesser of two evils” and falling for their “who else are you gonna vote for?” hubris a big part of why we’re in the mess we find ourselves? And if you don’t hold them to a high standard of fidelity, but instead reward betrayal, what incentive do you give them to ever change?
Add to these considerations political matters that wander a bit away from the “single issue,” but nonetheless tangentially affect it. Gun Owners of America has warned its members about plans for “amnesty” for aliens who have entered this country illegally, citing credible documentation that a “path to citizenship” would produce millions of new Democrat voters, with all that implies for anti-gun legislation, as well as for dangerous court and other appointments. No less than Obama’s Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson, has asserted such people “have earned the right to be citizens,” and no less a media power than the Bloomberg View editorial board has sent merciless flak GOA’s way for sounding that alarm, which is a pretty good indicator they’re over a target the antis don’t want them to reach.
After it’s all said and done, what if you live in an area where it just doesn’t matter? You’ve got no real choices. Your district and state are dominated by gun-banners. The Democrats are all disarmament freaks, and the Republicans offer nothing but RINO poltroons and worse.
So support someone outside of your district who deserves it, particularly if it’s a close election where some help could mean the difference in who wins. And as long as you’ve got nothing to lose, supporting a third party candidate locally may send a message that a better selection needs to be offered next time. Some will no doubt say we ought to be voting third party in the first place, but gaining traction for that, especially in the months remaining, is the province of party leadership. I’m dealing here with probabilities facing us now.
But now imagine you’ve got a candidate who is not only worthy of your vote, but also of your support. Will you give it? Will you donate money? Will you volunteer? Will you spread the word? Or will you let such a person stand alone?
The thing is, it would be a lot easier for them to play it safe. There’d be a lot less hassle for them, and far fewer dangers of having their campaigns derailed by an agenda-driven opposition. If we expect our representatives to take the difficult route and actually be leaders, we have to be ready to stand beside and behind them, and to prove ourselves, just like we expect and demand that of them.
By David Codrea