It’s hard to keep track of left-wing thinking on the role of big money in politics. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid turned the Senate into his soapbox for endless railing against the Koch Brothers and the allegedly insidious effect of their money in politics, but nobody on the Left seems too upset that plutocratic former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg “plans to spend $50 million this year building a nationwide grass-roots network to motivate voters who feel strongly about curbing gun violence, an organization he hopes can eventually outmuscle the National Rifle Association,” as the New York Times reports.
So “grass-roots networks” are now something a rich busybody can plunk down $50 million to purchase? As the Times goes on to note, Bloomberg’s mad money is more than double what the terrifying NRA spends in a year, and considerably more than what the hellspawned Koch Brothers are spending to help wrest the Senate from Democrat control in 2014. That’s s a lot of “grass-roots” activism. Normally when someone buys that much grass, the DEA gets involved.
The National Rifle Association, which is not the personal pet project of a single arrogant billionaire, doesn’t seem too worried about Bloomberg’s assault. According to Bloomberg, that’s because they’re a sinister band of thugs:
Mr. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, said gun control advocates need to learn from the N.R.A. and punish those politicians who fail to support their agenda ??? even Democrats whose positions otherwise align with his own.
???They say, ???We don???t care. We???re going to go after you,??? ??? he said of the N.R.A. ??? ???If you don???t vote with us we???re going to go after your kids and your grandkids and your great-grandkids. And we???re never going to stop.??? ???
He added: ???We???ve got to make them afraid of us.???
And here I thought the politics of fear and intimidation were a bad thing. As with the role of outside money in politics, I guess it all depends on who’s doing the intimidating.
One suspects the lack of excitement (outside the media, of course) for Bloomberg’s effort might have something to do with the face-plant failure of his previous anti-gun crusades:
The considerable advantages that gun rights advocates enjoy ??? in intensity, organization and political clout ??? will not be easy to overcome. Indeed, Mr. Bloomberg has already spent millions of dollars trying to persuade members of Congress to support enhanced background check laws with virtually nothing to show for it.
What is more, for many gun owners, the issue is a deeply personal one that energizes them politically, said Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, who dismissed the mayor???s plans.
???He???s got the money to waste,??? Mr. Pratt said. ???So I guess he???s free to do so. But frankly, I think he???s going to find out why his side keeps losing.???
Ah, but this time will be different than the previous gun-control debacles, because Bloomberg plans to focus his “organizing and outreach” on “women, and mothers in particular.” But probably not mothers like the one in Detroit who used one of those demonic “assault weapons” to drive off three home invaders in February, one of whom was armed. Or the mom in Georgia who pumped five rounds into a burglar after he found her hiding in a crawlspace with her two kids. Or the Alabama woman who defended herself and her niece by shooting a knife-wielding home invader. Or the Texas mom who confronted three masked men outside the bedroom of her 6-year-old son, told them she’d hand over the money stuffed in her mattress, and revealed her preferred mattress stuffing was a handgun. I doubt any of those women want to hear a lecture on gun control from Mike Bloomberg and his “grass-roots organization.”
While Bloomberg says his effort will be non-partisan, the Times observes that his biggest obstacle will be bipartisan resistance – no vulnerable Democrat in a red or purple state is going anywhere near gun control during this election cycle. On the other hand, there is something to be said for the single-minded determination of the gun-control crowd, which allows neither evidence from the street, nor political realities, to thwart their crusade. They believe determined activism will change political reality, whereas many other players on the national field – including a distressing number of those on the right – run away from anything that doesn’t look like a poll-tested sure-fire instant winner. It helps to have friendly media on your side (which makes the degree to which gun control is a losing issue nowadays all the more remarkable, since its exponents are given limitless credit for good intentions) but there is nevertheless something intriguing about those determined to move the window of political possibility, rather than operating strictly within it.
The Times mentions Bloomberg’s “billionaire, Big Gulp-banning” persona might rub voters in “rural, conservative states” the wrong way, but the paper was a sympathetic audience for the soulful and “introspective” former mayor, which leads to a hilarious closing paragraph:
Mr. Bloomberg was introspective as he spoke, and seemed both restless and wistful. When he sat down for the interview, it was a few days before his 50th college reunion. His mortality has started dawning on him, at 72. And he admitted he was a bit taken aback by how many of his former classmates had been appearing in the ???in memoriam??? pages of his school newsletter.
But if he senses that he may not have as much time left as he would like, he has little doubt about what would await him at a Judgment Day. Pointing to his work on gun safety, obesity and smoking cessation, he said with a grin: ???I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I???m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It???s not even close.???
As it is written in the Book of Bloomberg, “He who strikes the Big Gulp of sin from his brother’s hand, shall sit in a Barca-Lounger at the right hand of God. Blessed are those who spend a lot of money telling others what to do, for they shall gain express entry into Heaven.” If you get to the Pearly Gates and hear someone behind you in line loudly demanding VIP access and concierge service, you’ll know you died right before Mike Bloomberg.
I wonder how widespread his attitude must be among exponents of the Nanny State. Has there even been a more perfect expression of the “vision of the anointed” than Bloomberg claiming a first-class ticket to Heaven because he’s put so much effort into telling the Little People how to live their lives? Has there even been a better example of the mindset C.S. Lewis warned against?
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.
In the case of gun control, the “cure” proposed by nanny-staters often proves fatal for the disarmed law-abiding citizen who barely has time to dial 911 before her front door gets kicked in.
Update: I had to do it. Forgive me, Led Zeppelin fans.
There’s an ex-mayor who’s sure all that glitters is gold
And he’s buying the stairway to Heaven
When he gets there he knows, if the express lane is closed
With a word he can get VIP access
There’s an Amendment on the wall, but he wants to be sure
Cause “well-regulated militia” might have two meanings
There are people who think they can choose what to drink
But all of their freedoms are mis-given
Ooh, it makes him wonder
If Mayors Against Guns was a blunder…
There’s a feeling he gets when he stops at the Hess
And sees cups that hold gallons of soda
In his thoughts he has seen fat and lazy citizens
And the belches of those who drink cola
And it’s whispered that soon, if he gets to call the tune
Then Hizzoner will lead us to reason
And the day will be bright for those who eat right
Everyone else will get taxed out the wazoo
If there’s a noise at your window, don’t be alarmed now
If you’re disarmed they won’t hurt you
Yes there’s a Second Amendment you can go by, but in the long run
Only important people should have firearms
His head is humming and it won’t go, in case you don’t know
The proles are calling him to lead them
Dear people, can you hear how hard he blows, and did you know
His stairway will be an escalator
As we give his agenda a bounce
Our sodas smaller than 32 ounce
There walks a busybody we all know
Who’s got millions, and wants to show
How everyone should do as they are told
And if you listen very hard
He’ll tell you how to lose all that lard
Around your big stupid waist
Forget how good that Pepsi tastes
And he’s buying the stairway to Heaven…