Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"Cut and Paste" Versus "Lock and Load"

We may be in for a long, hot political summer; much depends on how long the GOP manufactured mini-scandals (Benghazi, the Justice Department and the IRS) dominate the news.  Senator Reid and Vice President Biden are still keeping the door open for a second vote on gun background checks. They make a great power couple, and we need them. Tragically, the grassroots have retreated to the hills, and we are stuck with CUT AND PASTE and LOCK AND LOAD.


Organizing for Action (OFA), the remnant Obama campaign group that is now working for legislative advocacy, has taken some flak in the press for a lackluster performance on the gun bill, the group's first test of its political clout:


While I retain a glimmer of hope OFA will get organized for action, there are some alarming signs not mentioned in those media reports. We need a group that can build big bipartisan coalitions on issues; OFA, stung by initial criticism, seems intent on aping the same ineffective tactics that MoveOn and the other progressive online groups use again and again and again.

OFA collected 1.4 million signatures for background checks, boxed 'em up and delivered them to Congress. They even made the predictable little video for the choir:  http://tinyurl.com/ce5frca

Representative Pelosi and Senator Reid gave them the standard issue  "thumbs up" tweet.

But...so what?

Reid and Pelosi already support background checks. What, in this stunt, was designed to lobby the half dozen GOP Senators required to pass a bill in the Senate?  1.4 million signatures sound great; dig a bit and you'll likely find that not even 1% of those signators are Republicans. OFA is at its heart a campaign organization. Campaigns are lone wolves; lobbying requires bipartisan bedfellows. If OFA does not learn to build actual coalitions (a joint effort by evangelicals or megachurches who support background checks, or working in cahoots with America's pediatricians, who are also in our camp), they will make little headway.

The trillion dollar question: will OFA learn from this loss or will they morph into little more than a well-funded MoveOn on steroids?

OFA is cutting and pasting failed tactics.

What should they do?

How about a petition of  just 1,000 signatures, all donors to Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) explaining, in long, substantive comments from each donor that she can no longer bank on their checkbooks.

Or, how about  bipartisan Hill visits, where 50% of the participants are evangelical ministers who support gun control?

Harder to pull off? Yes, but in politics what is easy is rarely effective.

And then we have the other team....


Gun Nuts  are a noxious  mix of  the anti-intellectual, the uninformed and the angry.

That can play to our favor.

Enter, stage right, Adam Kokesh, a Marine who served in the Iraq war. Upon returning home, he became not just anti-war, but, well, kind of anti-everything. Over the past few years, he has engaged in a number of increasingly bizarre stunts. His views are best expressed in his own words. At a Rand Paul rally in 2008,  he took the microphone: "While it is our responsibility now to resist tyranny civilly, while we still can, there may come a time when we will say to the powers that be, be it with your blood or ours we have come to water the tree of liberty … who will stand with me?"

Um, yikes.

Kokesh now thinks it a keen idea to stage a mock "invasion" of Washington, DC on the Fourth of July. He is using his blog to round up a platoon of misfits, whom he hopes will march 'round the White House and Congress with big guns ostentatiously draped over their shoulders.


Trouble is, DC doesn't allow impromptu Loon Platoons (or anyone else for that matter) to pack heat in public. He plans to start his march in Virginia and the DC police plan to meet him at the edge of the bridge.

Staggeringly stupid? Yes. Dangerous? Undoubtedly.

But, I have to give Mr. Kokesh the award for best progressive of the week. Progressive? If Mr. Kokesh can round up even a few dozen fools the media will cover the event like the Second Coming. He'll get a lot of press, even if things remain peaceful. And it will all be bad press.

Online petition drives are stupid. Armed mock invasions are even stupider.

I hope and pray this idiot stays out of my hometown this summer, but if he chooses to do a sick parody of the March to Selma (which gave us the Voting Rights Act) he may find his stunt is a mega-backfire, giving us federal background checks.

You can receive notices about new posts on the Data Driven Beltway on Twitter @MichaelAgosta1 and as always, if you like the post, feel free to share it.