Joseph Sabino Mistick: Pelosi, NRA show how easily tables can be turned
If all goes well for supporters of gun reform, the National Rifle Association could soon become the next Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi, the only woman to serve as speaker of the House of Representatives, will always have her supporters. But her demonization by national Republicans has made her their go-to message in every close campaign against a Democrat. According to Republican attack ads, every Democrat running for anything is just another vote for Pelosi, already portrayed by the GOP as out of touch with the average voter — and worse. Once they demonized her, it was easy to create guilt by association.
But this is a tactic that cuts both ways, one that can just as easily be used by those targeted by it. Niccolo Machiavelli, the Italian political philosopher, warned against demonization, because the tables can be so easily turned.
Now, because of the political activism of the surviving high school students of Parkland, Fla., the NRA is starting to feel the sting of demonization. And the students are giving others strength.
It started with Donald Trump's initial response to the Parkland slaughter, which was to suggest seizing guns from dangerous people first and giving them their due process afterward. And he accused lawmakers of being “afraid” to take on the NRA, creating gun-reform campaign ads that write themselves.
In Florida, the NRA and politicians who support it are being called out on billboards. One calls the NRA a “terrorist organization.” Another accuses Florida Gov. Rick Scott of doing nothing in the months between the Pulse nightclub slaughter and the Parkland school slaughter. And three large truck signs take aim at Sen. Marco Rubio, who has benefited from NRA support and called the recent shootings “inexplicable.” The signs say: “Slaughtered in school,” “And still no gun control?” followed by “How come, Marco Rubio?”
A number of national businesses have cut ties with the NRA, including First National Bank of Omaha, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Allied Van Lines, North American Van Lines, Avis Budget Group, Hertz, Enterprise Holdings, Met Life and Chubb, according to The New York Times.
In Colorado, 400 members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America filled the state Capitol rotunda and lobbied to stop a repeal of limits on high-capacity magazines. One of the moms said it's different now, because the Parkland students are “taking the lead.”
Retailers Dick's Sporting Goods and Wal-Mart have raised the age for gun purchasers. REI has suspended orders for outdoor gear made by a company that also sells guns. And public pension funds are reconsidering their investments in gun manufacturers and retailers.
The NRA can drop its inflexible interpretation of the Second Amendment and help find a solution. But if it continues to dig in, running the risk that it will become more widely seen as a political pariah, the most effective political attack ads won't claim that a candidate is a “Nancy Pelosi supporter.” They'll claim that a candidate has a “100-percent rating by the NRA.”
Joseph Sabino Mistick is a Pittsburgh lawyer (joemistick.com).