Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Recipe To Save The GOP Part Two: How Allies Can Help

In an earlier post, I suggested adopting a distributist economic model could improve the GOP's electoral chances in the long run.

Now it's time to describe how two major organizations that are or are perceived to be allies of the Republican Party can help. These groups are the National Rifle Association and the Boy Scouts of America, both of which are disdained by the cultural left.

For starters, the National Rifle Association doesn't just oppose efforts to pass gun control laws. It has the Eddie the Eagle program to teach kids firearm safety, as well as shooting-sports programs. I propose the NRA put more money and publicity into both programs, the former to reduce the accidental shootings that give anti-gun people heartrending anecdotes to sway people to their side and the latter to teach people ignorant of firearms that although they can be dangerous if misused, guns are not objects of superstitious dread that must be kept away from everybody. In particular, the NRA should fund shooting-sports programs at children's summer camps. In particular, smaller camps that need money might be more receptive.

Overall in this country, the rate of gun ownership is going down. I am not suggesting ownership of guns for the sake of having them. I am not a gun owner myself because I don't see the need to own one and thus don't want to shell out hundreds of dollars. However, the fewer gun owners there are, the easier it will be to politically marginalize and then one day crack down on them. Reversing this trend by encouraging (responsible) firearms enthusiasm among the young will help ensure the right to bear arms survives should those who don't currently own guns change their minds.

Although the NRA has opposed gun control legislation as a slippery-slope toward confiscation (see the SKS controversy in California and how registration preceded confiscation in Britain and Australia), there might be a third option. A member of my alternate history forum who works in the California legal system has proposed strict liability be implemented in regards to firearms. For example, if someone's gun is stolen and they don't report it to the police, if the gun is later used in a crime, they get into trouble. Anecdotally, he's seen guns left out on the seats of cars where criminals can easily break in and get them. There's some reckless endangerment right there, but I don't know if it's possible to, say, slap a ticket on the car for that.

Advocating stricter enforcement against straw buyers would be a good idea as well, since that's another way criminals get their guns. None of these things would affect law-abiding gun owners (or if they did, they would only affect the most stupidly negligent among them) and in fact could be covered by the credo "rights have responsibilities" or to paraphrase Spider-Man, "with great power comes great responsibility." The NRA advocating this policy could back-foot gun foes and win over the more moderate people who support things like universal background checks, keeping them from being seduced by pro-confiscation forces like this fellow who wrote an article for the New York Times.

Now for the Boy Scouts. This article here describes how the Boy Scouts are in decline and suggests ways to counteract that. One solution is to admit girls, as many foreign Scout organizations and the American Venture patrols already do. Based on the New York Times article, there are a lot of girls dissatisfied with the "girly" activities of the Girl Scouts who could provide a welcome increase to the organization. For anyone concerned about shenanigans ensuing, I'm not aware of Venture events turning into orgies and furthermore, there is a concept called "adult supervision." A greater outreach to the growing Hispanic community would be a good idea as well, especially since the article claims Hispanics view the Boy Scouts as "elite and unattainable." This article here says in many countries Hispanics come from Scouts are for rich people, but that's not an issue I'm aware of in the United States. The Hispanic community is a largely untapped "market" for the Boy Scouts and if we want avoid irrelevance and remain the pillar of American culture we have historically been, that's a big opportunity.

The Boy Scouts of America has recently voted to allow gay youth, although not gay Scoutmasters. Although my religion as I understand it teaches homosexual behavior is immoral, I support this. I'm not going to name names, but I do remember getting a gay vibe off one of my fellow troop members. For all the harping about the potential problems that could result from gay kids in Scouts, I'll point out that they're already there. Again, "adult supervision." Furthermore, by requiring Scouts inclined this way to lie to stay in the organization they may love, the Scouting movement until recently was setting a stumbling block before them.

Politics reflect culture. A strong Scouting movement will inculcate generic "American" values and patriotism in young people regardless of race, religion, creed, etc. Although many Scouts I knew were Democrats (Republicans do not have a monopoly on patriotism and American values), none I knew were stridently anti-American or ludicrously alienated from their own civilization in the way some of the more belligerent leftists are. One of the more prominent Democrats in my old Scout troop joined the military, something hippies or people who think the celebration of the Fourth of July is a slap in the face to Indians and blacks (a friend of a friend said this online, but I can't find his blog at the moment) generally don't do.


  1. Matt,

    Maybe the Right ought to go to sensitivity training so they might stop doing things like dismissing the deaths of children as "anecdotes".

    The "cultural left" doesn't "disdain" the NRA, it's the left-most 70% of the population that finds it ridiculous that the NRA opposes even the most sensible gun-control proposals.

    Sometimes it seems the saying is true: reality has a liberal bias. Example: FOX viewers were utterly convinced Romney would win in a landslide. MSNBC viewers thought it would be close but that Obama had a slight advantage.

    Anyway, the "reality" I'm talking about is that gun control works. Not in the USA because you can get around it by driving to the next state. The Australian example is telling - since sweeping gun control was passed, there have been 0 mass shootings, gun homicide declined 60%, gun suicide 70% (the slack has not been taken up by other methods) and gun accidents disappeared. Australia has muddled on without becoming totalitarian.

    If the GOP wants the NRA to become an asset, it needs to drop its absurd paranoid resistance to any gun control whatsoever and instead support reasonable gun control so that it doesn't make Republicans look like gun-obsessed nut-jobs.

  2. Part 2!

    As for the Scouts, they're disdained almost entirely for their anti-gay stance, and once they've ditched it people will go back to not noticing them at all. Their main problem is irrelevance in the modern world and adherence to the "generic 'American' values - a totally arbitrary construction. I was a scout and all I remember is learning ridiculous skills that I'll never need unless there's an apocalypse.

    If the scouts do as you say, how willthat benefit the GOP? You're making an implicit assumption that "generic American values" and patriotism are GOP values. It's that which marginalizes the GOP - the "with us or against us" attitude. The GOP holds the true American values, and the "left" (which in reality is center-right) is therefore unpatriotic.

    For the scouts to become an asset, they need to more far away from their roots and become a public service organization, like Rotary for kids. When in the 70s they did that, conservatives misinterpreted the drop-off in membership as a result of the revamp when it was simply that the large baby-boomer generation moved out of scouting age and Gen X is much smaller.

    Finally, your comment about the values of your faith: do you not see a rather serious disconnect within your essay? First, your faith also considers morally wrong fornication, masturbation, eating pork & shellfish, mixing fibers in clothing, eating milk with meat (i.e. cheeseburgers) wearing gold or perfume, and a host of things you probably do frequently. Conservative Christians hold onto the anti-gay thing because it allows them to feel righteous without having to give anything up. The "Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law" argument is an absurd attempt to circumvent inconvenient rules. He never said any such thing. He DID say, however, that we should all love each other and be non-violent.

    You, on the other hand, want to train children to use lethal weapons. What would Jesus say about that? If you want to pick and choose what in your faith you'll choose to adhere to like food off a menu, then don't expect anyone to take your beliefs as anything but what you use to justify your own biases. By "you" I mean anyone who doesn't understand why their political activity is so resented - they're hypocritical and use political power to deny basic rights to their fellow citizens. Is that a generic American value?

    If I were a consultant for the GOP, I'd tell them to give up their anti-immigrant and minority stances, stop behaving like an anti-government Taliban, give up the all-or-nothing approach to politics, stop being a tool for the very rich to plunder the middle class, and stand for financial responsibility, reasonable resistance to the expansion of government power and function, and oppose any effort to use the power of the state to impose restrictive values on the electorate.

    You'll often hear a Republican complain about "judicial activism" (like choosing Bush or dumping the Voting Rights Act?) and the imposition by liberals of their values on society. But there's a difference - conservatives try to hold back greater freedoms (like for instance legal equality for gays), whereas liberals expand freedoms. The expansion of rights for one group does not take anything away from anyone else. Gay marriage doesn't destroy marriage - it has no impact on straight marriage whatsoever. So why would the same people who want to limit the government somehow support using it to restrict basic rights, support a huge military-industrial complex, and the catastrophic expansion of the state's powers to observe, detain, or even kill American citizens? That's way more dangerous to our liberty than whether or not we're armed with guns.

  3. Accidental shootings and shooting deaths are tragic, but very rare in the grand scheme of things. Nobody is calling for "sensible pool control" and yet many more children drown in pools. Pools haven't become a culture-war issue, it seems.

    And who defines "reasonable"? I certainly wouldn't trust you to define it, nor anyone else with your disdain for the NRA and gun rights in general.

    And since when is basic First Aid useless except in the event of the apocalypse? My old Scoutmaster saved a man's life with CPR once.

    And no comment on strict liability? I figured someone of your intelligence would take notice of an actual policy that's rather different from either restriction or no restriction. The fact you chose to basically emote/moralize about "training children in lethal weapons" is disappointing.

    And given your complaining about "the rich" while claiming to be a (fiscal) conservative, I figured you might be interested in my other post, the one where I discussed distributism.

  4. And referring to encouraging clay-shooting and the like as "train[ing] children to use lethal weapons" is dishonest in its intention even though it's technically accurate. Shooting sports =/= child soldiers and you damn well know it.

  5. And considering how I voted Libertarian in 2004 and 2012, it'd be pretty ridiculous to accuse non-Republicans of being un-patriotic.

    My argument was that those with the values inculcated by the Boy Scouts are more prone to being Republicans and those who are Democrats aren't belligerent leftists who hate their country.

    (And I am fully aware that "disagrees with the policies of" and "hate" are two different things, so don't you start straw-manning me as some jackass who thinks everyone opposed to U.S. Foreign Policy Du Jour is a traitor.)

    Re: the gay issue, you started berating me about conservatives wanting to oppress gays, judicial activism, etc. even though the only time I discussed gays in this post was to defend admission of openly gay Scouts, something that I seriously expected to catch hell over. That's a real good way to make friends there.

    Re: Jesus and food, Jesus said it was not what went into a man that made him unclean (i.e. food), but what can from within (his own evil inclinations) and in the Book of Acts, Peter has a vision in which God tells him to eat "unclean" food.

    I've made far better anti-Christian arguments than you've made and I'm a Christian.