THE EXTREMISM WE DESERVE
Zandar calls this the "worst idea ever," but, from a purely political point of view, I'm not sure I agree:
Eyebrows shot up all over the country Thursday following news that that the Republican Party in Pima County, AZ -- home to Tucson and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' (D) district -- is raffling off a Glock similar to the one used to shoot Giffords in the head in January....
Yes, condemnation has come from members of both parties -- but so what? Really, what will be the negative fallout for the Pima County Republicans, or for the GOP in general?
"There's a woman who has a bullet in the brain and who everybody is wishing a full recovery," Brian Miller, the immediate past chair of the Pima County GOP told TPM. "I don't think that raffling off a firearm right now is probably the right way to go." ...
"The people who are running the Pima County GOP right now aren't exactly known for their ability to feel the political pulse," he said. "Politically, it's kind of a silly thing to do."
...Democrats said the move went far beyond "silly."
"It shows a stunning lack of understanding," Pima County Democratic Party chair Jeff Rogers told TPM. "It's kind of a slap in the face for a community that's still trying to recover."
I disagree with both Miller and Rogers. I think these Pima County Republicans have a very accurate feel for the political pulse. I think they have a very shrewd understanding of the situation.
How does the public punish a political party? It votes out that party at the polls. Do you really think a significant number of people are going to react to this by saying, "That's it -- I'm not voting for the Republicans anymore"? And yet, among the crazy faithful, this builds a sense of solidarity and us-against-the-liberals pugnaciousness. There's no downside.
This is, in fact, a shrewd thing to do given who we are as a country on the issue of firearms -- everyone is either an angry, self-righteous gun absolutist or too polite (or beaten down) to stand up to the gun absolutists.
And that's how we are on every issue right now: right-wing extremists take absolute stances with impunity, knowing that the crazy base will cheer them on and the rest of us never respond by hitting them where it hurts.