Un-Picking Candidates

The Knox Report

From the Firearms Coalition


Time to “Un-Pick” Some Candidates


By Jeff Knox

(Manassas, VA, October 3, 2007) Much as the man who said, “I may not know much about art, but I know what I like,” when it comes to the 2008 Presidential Primaries there are a lot of folks who aren’t sure who they want to support, but you can bet they know who they don’t like. Well it’s high time GunVoters made it absolutely clear who they don’t like and why. If they don’t, they could allow an unacceptable candidate to rise to the top of the heap based on a mistaken perception of broad “acceptability.”

                In the September/October edition of The Hard Corps Report, The Firearms Coalition's semi-monthly newsletter, there was a call for GunVoters to take a stand on which presidential candidates are unacceptable so as to dispel any notion that these candidates might receive any of their support, regardless of who is on the other side of the ticket.

Weeding out the Democrat side of the political garden is easy; all of the candidates are unrepentant gun-blamers and believers in limiting liberty except New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson who has a pretty good record on gun issues.

Weeding out noxious Republicans should be just as easy because the records are clear; Giuliani was an ardent gun control supporter as Mayor of New York; Romney advanced and signed harsh anti-gun legislation as Governor of Massachusetts; and McCain stabbed gunowners in the back by lending his name to anti-gun advertisements and pushing for restrictions on gun shows.

Unfortunately, many committed Republican GunVoters have been mesmerized by a mystical media creation called “electability.” According to the electability model of candidate selection, voters should support the candidate with the best chance of being elected. The problem with this theory is, of course, that it requires voters to support the early leader in order to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. In fact, electability is merely a combination of name recognition, fundraising, and popular support. Name recognition and fundraising are useless without that vital third ingredient of popular support. If people express support for a candidate based solely upon that candidate’s perceived electability, they are feeding that perception and propping up a paper tiger.

Mediocre candidates do win elections, but only because their opponents – who are picked in the exact same way – are even less inspiring.

It would be a mistake for gun rights organizations to publicly endorse any candidate at this point; it is too early in the process. But it is time to draw a clear, red line through the unsupportable candidates. Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain, and all of the Democrats in the race, save Richardson, have proven that they do not trust “the people” and do not understand the principles of individual liberty and security as protected by the Second Amendment. GunVoters and gun rights organizations need to make it absolutely clear that they oppose these candidates and will not support them under any circumstances.

Allowing anti-gun candidates to remain at the top of the running has implications for much more than just the presidency. The name at the top of the ticket will set the tone for the entirety of the ’08 elections from US Senate to local school board. If there is no supportable candidate at the top of the ticket on either side, many GunVoters will simply stay home or go hunting and even more will be disenchanted enough to pay little attention to candidates farther down the ticket, much less work for those candidates.

GunVoters have the power to remove the anti-gunners from among the top of the Republican hopefuls and need to do so expeditiously in order to create room for the gun-friendly candidates to move up. Failure to do so virtually guarantees that the 2008 elections will offer a choice between “Bad” and “Worse.” GunVoter organizations at all levels must send a loud and clear message to current and future candidates for all levels of government that anti-gun positions will be remembered and repaid.

Some argue that declaring opposition to the front-runners creates a risk of alienating a candidate who might eventually become President and who might otherwise be willing to try to work with gun rights advocates. History has proven this argument to be specious. Politicians learn from experience that they need GunVoters and they will redouble their efforts to appease rather than offend. John McCain’s shift from moderate anti-gun in the 2000 presidential campaign to strong-talking pro-gun this year gives testament to this truth.

GunVoters deserve candidates that they can actually support, not candidates that they can possibly tolerate. That means they must publicly and actively oppose unsupportable candidates like Giuliani, Romney, and McCain.


Permission to reprint or post this article in its entirety is hereby granted provided this credit is included.  To Receive the Firearms Coalition’s bi-monthly newsletter, The Hard Corps Report, send a contribution to The Firearms Coalition, PO Box 3313, Manassas, VA  20108 or visit FirearmsCoalition.org and ShotgunNews.com  ©Copyright 2007 Neal Knox Associates