January 21, 2013

Bill Clinton warns Democrats on handling of gun issue

We have disagreed with Bill Clinton on a lot of things, but his advice here is wise:

Politico -Former President Bill Clinton warned a group of top Democratic donors at a private Saturday meeting not to underestimate the passions that gun control stirs among many Americans.

“Do not patronize the passionate supporters of your opponents by looking down your nose at them,” Clinton said.

“A lot of these people live in a world very different from the world lived in by the people proposing these things,” Clinton said. “I know because I come from this world."

...“You have the power to really democratize America,” Clinton said. “You can do it on immigration reform, you can do it on these economic issues. You can do it on implementing the health care bill.”
But, Clinton warned, the issue of guns has a special emotional resonance in many rural states — and simply dismissing pro-gun arguments is counterproductive.

While some polls show that the public by-and-large supports several proposals for increased gun control, Clinton said that it’s not the public support that matters — it’s how strongly people feel about the issue.

“All these polls that you see saying the public is for us on all these issues — they are meaningless if they’re not voting issues,” Clinton said.

Clinton recalled Al Gore’s 2000 campaign against George W. Bush in Colorado, where a referendum designed to close the so-called gun show loophole shared the ballot with the presidential ticket. Gore publicly backed the proposal, while Bush opposed it.

Though the referendum passed with 70 percent of the vote, Gore lost the state. Clinton said that the reason was because a good chunk of the referendum’s opponents were single-issue voters who automatically rejected Gore as anti-gun.

And Clinton said that passing the 1994 federal assault weapons ban “devastated” more than a dozen Democratic lawmakers in the 1994 midterms — and cost then-Speaker of the House Tom Foley (D-Wash.) his job and his seat in Congress.
...He said that he understands the culture that permeates a state like Arkansas — where guns are a longstanding part of local culture.
“A lot of these people … all they’ve got is their hunting and their fishing,” he told the Democratic financiers. “Or they’re living in a place where they don’t have much police presence. Or they’ve been listening to this stuff for so long that they believe it all.”

Clinton closed his remarks with a warning to big Democratic donors that ultimately many Democratic lawmakers will be defeated if they choose to stand with the president.

“Do not be self-congratulatory about how brave you for being for this” gun control push, he said. “The only brave people are the people who are going to lose their jobs if they vote with you.


sherry said...

So . . . do you imagine this is how the conversation went in Australia when they got serious about gun control?

aitengri said...

A really difficult post to comment on. I completely understand the "realpolitic" that informs Clinton's message, and he's probably very right on about the political reality (that's taking "realpolitic" one step beyond its ordinary limitation in usage, despite the apparent equivalency of the two terms). The real "tragedy" is the vast cultural void, the complete lack of world view, that sucks the air out of our nation as a whole, and that characterizes the boonies heart of the "union" as we know it. We need another secession event, one which enables the East and West Coast states, at least, to form an encircling entity with international connections and economic/cultural power, that can simply leave the boonie regions to atrophy in their own ignorance besotted culture. The devil may well enjoy consuming the laggards, and the new Bi-Coastal entity can move on to greater things.

Anonymous said...

In other words, nothing really can be done about gun proliferation and gun violence! We cannot protect our children and families because of rural opposition--we can't jeopordize their "way of life" without incurring their righteous wrath. Mr.Clinton's counsel is a counsel of despair.

Unknown said...

This is not Australia, Japan, Switzerland, etc., etc..
The U.S, is has unique multicultural roots that require due diligence. Bill Clinton understands and respects that. Dems and left wingers would do well to heed his advice and understanding.