I don't think anyone would deny that the Republican Party is in relatively dire straits headed into the 2016 presidential election. At the moment it looks like the nominee will either be: a loon who has literally been attacked by the symbol of our country; a talk-much, do-nothing grandstander genuinely despised by not only the opposition but also a not-insignificant part of the Republican coalition; and a relatively milquetoast establishment figure who the base doesn't trust.
In other words: How's the GOP looking?
Assuming that the enemy of the bald eagle flames out (and, crucially, doesn't mount a quixotic third party run), that leaves us with the despised grandstander and the guy who, supposedly, won't fire up the base. Not really an ideal slate of candidates! They'll need some help.
Fortunately, the liberal establishment is here to pull the GOP's fat out of the fire. Because you know what riles the Republican base? What might turn out rural whites in Pennsylvania and Ohio and Florida and Virginia who otherwise wouldn't much care for the candidate they got stuck with?
Threatening to take their guns away.
This is why—if I'm being totally honest with you, oh dear reader—I smile a little bit every time I see a headline like this one:
Or like this one:
That comes with text like this:
In its first front-page editorial in nearly 100 years, The New York Times is calling for a drastic reduction in the availability of guns in America.
"Certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, and certain kinds of ammunition, must be outlawed for civilian ownership," the editorial board of The Times says.
Wow! The New Republic and the New York Times are really serious about this! Amazing! I bet this show of rhetorical force really schooled Americans about the need for an assault weapons ban, huh?
— Patrick J. Egan (@Patrick_J_Egan) December 11, 2015
But … but … that can't be! I've been told that Americans are sick and tired of how many guns there are in America and believe that a totally futile ban on certain types of scary-looking weapons is just what the doctor ordered.
Anyway, I encourage the Democratic frontrunner to ignore this polling and LEAD. (And there's no one better to do so: After all, if there's anything a Clinton knows how to do, it's show some backbone on issues of importance to the Democratic base.) Who cares if gun control is not particularly popular and the only people for whom it is a salient issue tend to be firearm owners who make a special point of voting AGAINST politicians who want to grab their guns! There's a principle at stake here, dagnabbit.
So run on gun control, Democrats. Run on this issue as hard as you can. This would definitely not be a boon for the GOP and would definitely not rally disaffected Republican voters to candidates they otherwise might have qualms about supporting. You cannot lose if you make this your cause.