Gun rights and gun control probably shouldn’t be part of the culture war, but it is. As a result, it’s part of a lot of discussions it probably shouldn’t be part of.
Yet in this day and age, it feels like everything is part of those discussions.
Democrats, firmly on a different side of said culture war than yours truly, have decided to push hard for a number of things such as gun control. In their collective mind, anything less than gun control is unacceptable.
However, some think this focus on issues like this may well backfire on them.
There’s a debate raging on social media this weekend about the direction of the Democratic Party. It started with an article written by Ezra Klein about a young data analyst name David Shor. Shor has been arguing that Democrats are heading for a long-term disaster if they don’t refocus their message onto more bread-and-butter issues and talk less about social justice issues. The activist wing of the party disagrees vehemently, but I think Shor is largely right.
My focus is mainly North Carolina when it comes to electoral politics, and here, the national message has clearly not worked. While the state narrowly elected and re-elected a moderate governor, Democrats have lost three straight U.S. Senate races and presidential contests. They lost a majority of council of state seats and haven’t had control of the legislature since 2010.
In 2020, Democrats counted on a motivated electorate and a high turnout. It didn’t work. While turnout was the highest it’s been in decades, it cut both ways. The Democratic base showed up, but the Republican base grew by even larger margins. The Democrats showed up to oppose Trump, but the Republicans showed up to oppose Democrats, not to defend Trump.
Overall turnout in North Carolina in 2020 was 75%, higher than at any time in recent memory and possibly ever. Among Democrats, it was also 75%, but among Republicans, turnout was 82%. Republicans overperformed, making up 33% of the overall electorate but only 30% of the registered voters. Unaffiliated voters, the fastest growing registration category, underperformed by about the same amount, while Democrats’ turnout was on par with their registration.
But this is overall electoral stuff. That’s not really what we do here.
Here, we talk about the Second Amendment. We talk about guns and gun rights. Parties really shouldn’t matter in this, and they really shouldn’t. There are gun-owning Democrats out there. There are those who vehemently support the Second Amendment, even, and don’t just think guns are swell for them but no one else.
They’re out there.
Yet one of the problems of the Democratic Party pushing for gun control as well as defunding the police is that they risk alienating a core demographic they count on in many places.
Democrats have long taken Black voters for granted, assuming that they embrace the Democratic agenda. In fact, many African Americans, especially those who are working class and living in rural areas, are more socially conservative than the Democrats as a whole. Many are evangelical Christians and gun owners. They may be disturbed and angry by police shootings, but they don’t reject the institution of policing as a whole.
Many blue collar and older African Americans live in higher crime areas and depend on police and deputies for protection. And many also see law enforcement as a career that provides job security and a middle class lifestyle without a four-year college degree. They might want police and criminal justice reform, but they don’t want to defund the police.
That’s absolutely true, too. A lot of those black men and women Democrats count on come election time aren’t thrilled with the direction they’re seeing the country go down. While they might still vote Democrat right now, that’s mostly because the GOP outreach has been non-existent. Republicans haven’t done much to court these voters, so many feel the Democrats are their only choice.
If Republican candidates were to step up and the party reach out and make it clear that their ideas align with theirs, the “black vote” might become something up for grabs.
The author also points out that working-class whites–another group Democrats often try to court–have heard a lot about gun control but not very much from Democrats about riot control. That likely doesn’t really help convince people Democrats count on to roll left with their vote.
And many Democrats really do wonder why working-class whites side with the GOP so often. Well, crap like this is why. Their culture war agenda is all but handing those votes to Republicans.
Now, none of this is a slam dunk. Anything can happen between now and next November. However, it’s really an interesting take from the left as to why they’re kind of dropping the ball with their culture war agenda, and guns are smack dab in the middle of it, too.