So the cannibalistic exercise that will be the Republican 2016p primary is hardly unfamiliar to Colorado voters. It's gained volume with the Rand Paul-Chris Christie spat, and shows no signs of abating with Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz visiting Iowa and urging a government shutdown. Meanwhile Paul, a senator from Kentucky, and the National Association for Gun Rights have already started attacking other Republicans for being too soft on gun rights.
This goes back to the "Watching the Republicans Commit Suicide" post I did a bit back. On one level I think what we're seeing is a growing schism between the old skol GOP and the gun culture/vote (and yes, Chris Christie signed the antigun laws in New Jersey). I think some of the old skol "conservative" pols (read, John McCain and his cabal) have an almost obsessive need to be "respected" by the political Left. Coupled with the fact that there was never a real depth of commitment in the mainstream Republicans for the Second Amendment, I think this may be an inevitable conflict.
Republicans have taken the gun vote for granted for more than 2 decades. When I started going to Washington and actually talking to "our" legislators, color me naive...I was shocked at how shallow their commitment to us actually was. For years it didn't make any difference, because our enemies hadn't really be able to mount a major offensive...it's easy to support gun rights if all you have to do is mouth platitudes and occasionally pat us on the head like we're aging spaniels. With this year's brutal antigun offensive, though, the bill came due — and to their credit, the bulk of the Republican support held.
I think the developing schism is indeed between the libertarian — small "L" — side of the party and the old skol, with the gun rights supporters solidly in the libertarian column. It's not that the old skol is antigun, it's just that in their view gun rights as ranking slightly lower than "opposition to lead paint" on their list of important topics. My experience in talking with the old skol pols was that they couldn't quite grasp why we were so outspoken on gun rights. I recall an event in Washington where one Senator said to me something along the lines of "I support and vote conservation and hunt deer every fall...what more do you want?" That's why the mainstream GOP can so enthusiastically embrace someone like Christie, one of the most antigun governors in America, and be completely blind as to the impending election disaster such support will guarantee.
I don't want a Republican President...I want an enthusiastically pro-gun President (who will, I concede, probably be a Republican). I don't want a President who says he will sign an AWB if it comes to his desk, so make sure it doesn't nudge nudge wink wink say no more (George W. Bush, more or less), but a President who says , "Hell no! I'll veto any bill I believe abrogates the Second Amendment!" We have had a tough year, and we've taken some serious losses. The net result of the most recent gun battles (so to speak) is that we are increasingly suspicious of pols who waffle, who talk out of both sides of their mouth about gun rights, who refuse to answer simple questions on where they stand. I say again...if the Republicans choose a dedicated antigun politician as their standard-bearer, after November 7, 2016, I suspect there wont be much of a Republican Party left. Consider one of Michael's Rules: Don't walk into a fan if you don't have to!