Back when Proposition 8 was being bandied about in the great state of California, many people argued that the opposition to gay marriage wasn’t from inside the state, but was instead from outside the state. Mormons and religious groups were accused of flocking to the state in an attempt to derail the democratic process and undermine the voters of California to get a law passed that did not reflect the true views of the people and while the statistics do not bear out the “outside organizations spent more money” argument, the mere perception that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, an organization not considered inherently “California” was pushing hard and meeting a great deal of resistance.
In fact, the amount spent by in-state groups was nearly identical to the amount spent by groups from other states.
As we all know, politics do not begin and end on the truth, and in fact often the truth is irrelevant to the story. This is one of those times.
After Proposition 8 was struck down, it was repeated over and over again that outside money would not influence California politics, even though it was clear that organizations opposing Proposition 8 actually spent more money overall!
This is typical of political discourse in the United States, though. When people don’t like a policy, they immediately want to make sure that you understand that it’s outsiders influencing it right up until those outsiders take a position they agree with. Take, for instance, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayor’s Against Illegal Guns organizations. In spite of the fact that the actual money for that organization comes mostly out of the pocket of a New York businessman, rarely will you hear a gun control advocate argue that Bloomberg should not be spending money in Chicago discussing gun control. In fact, the climate of Chicago is so friendly to gun control advocacy that Bloomberg was welcomed there as someone who was doing great things for the community.
If, however, the NRA dares speak out in defense of legal gun owners, they’re often met with very vocal opposition, and told they “aren’t welcome.” Now, to be clear, I have no problem with a community deciding what speakers are and aren’t welcome to speak on an issue, but I do find it ironic that “outside money” and “outside influence” are only even mentioned when the talking points are not the typical left-wing canards. That’s not to say right-wingers don’t pursue the same fallacious arguments, but the extent to which left-wingers will defend their home turf like a rabid dog is far greater.
This is becoming evident as shooting victim Gabby Giffords and her husband (who tried to purchase an AR-15 a last year to prove background checks were insufficient, but failed when it became evident that he was attempting to purchase the rifle to demonstrate how easy it was to purchase one. The sale was scuttled right before the background check paperwork would’ve been done.) have announced that they will in fact be dumping plenty of money into some tight Senate races for their gun-grabbing friends.
ARS is supporting Senate candidates who voted for the expanded background check requirements that were defeated in the Senate last year and House candidates who wanted to see similar legislation in the House.
According to the New York Daily News, these senators include Mark Udall (D-CO), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Al Franken (D-MN).
Amount of protest over outside money?
Oh, and just in case you were wondering how flexible the Giffords family’s morality on guns is? They’re not going after Democrats who are facing tough elections in red states on gun control issues because… Well… To people like Gabby Giffords and her husband, politics trump principle.
So where does that leave us? Well, honestly, it leaves us not too far from where we started and not too far from where people who aren’t steeped in political party nonsense already know we are: a country whose arguments about the validity of political discourse are steeped solely in the positions those people hold. If “we” agree with them, then “we” don’t care where they come from. If “we” don’t agree with them, then we don’t watn their pesky outside money involved in “our” politics and as long as the opposition can be painted as “outsiders,” it’s easy to make brainless tribalistic claims as to the legitimacy of their point of view.
Header Image via Lisa on Flickr