Civic Geek: The NRA’s problems and the future

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr)

The Parkland student-inspired MarchForLife protests have certainly had an impact. The NRA’s image is obviously tarnished and American opinions on guns have changed. Those bodes ill for the NRA – but also gives us ideas to address other issues where financial interests work against our citizens.

First, let’s look at where the NRA is:

The Parkland Students Got Organized Got Attention

The Parkland students got organized, got attention, and got a protest. This has had an impact, and it’s not going away – even if it fades (and it may) it’s inspired people and gotten them organized.

Two things stand out here:

  • * They were articulate and sympathetic by basically being themselves.
  • * They kept focused (though obviously there’s interest in other issues).

It’s really, really hard to argue with articulate people making the human point “I’d like not to be shot in my classroom.” There’s a message and people you can connect with.

The NRA Went On The Attack

And it looked awful. The NRA’s entirely geared up to be an attack machine (it’s really a PAC) and it responded as it does. When no one backed down, of course, what else can they do? They came of looking unsympathetic and unrelatable (wheres the students were otherwise)

Which brings us to a big issue . . .

The NRA-Adjacent Are Worse

Christ, I couldn’t believe the amounts of personal attacks on the Parkland students from assorted “journalists,” bloggers, and media lack-of-personalities. I mean I expected some of this, but it was far more vicious, petty, and stupid than I expected.

Then you get to the real fringe groups, the people looking for crisis actors and connections to pizza cults. They’ve already easily created or internalized various insane narratives. These both feed more “mainstream” journalists as well as self-reinforcing their own delusions.

The people towing the NRA line, the “NRA-Adjacent” look far worse – and that rubs off on the NRA. I have enough trouble telling Dana Loesch’s rants from someone on Twitter with six followers.

Which means that these people, when they look bad, make the NRA look bad EVEN IF THE NRA WERE TO GO QUIET. Since they can’t shut up, their activities are going to keep making the NRA look bad.

The NRA-Adjacent Are Vulnerable

Look at how fast Laura Ingrham apologized for mocking David Hogg when people went after her advertisers. Consumer revolt is not only helpful – it points out hypocrisy, viciousness, and provides publicity.

Remember how many people make a living providing punditry, and saying whatever pays.

There’s More To Dig Up

The NRA accepts foreign donations and has admitted it. There’s been suspicions for awhile about how they act as a kind of PAC/money laundering operation, and connections to Russia. They’ve got enough questions that additional public scrutiny isn’t going to e good for them.

Now they get to have it. When they and their adjacent advocates can’t shut up while they attack teenagers who don’t want to get shot.  We’re probably seeing a self-exciting system.

What We Can Learn

So what does this teach us about modern politics? It gives us some ideas of how to take on various corrupt groups and government officials – because they often fit the same pattern. They’re beliigerent, only know how to attack, have a “halo” of even more extreme believers, and there’s always something more to dig up.

Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. This means:

  • Be sincere and human.
  • Use the media.
  • Build focused movements.
  • Don’t give in to the attackers, but expect attacks.
  • Let those “adjacent” to corrupt organizations make the organizations look worse.
  • Be sure to use consumer boycotts and awareness against those adjacent to corruption.
  • When you have belligerent corrupt organizations and politicians, there’s usually more dark secrets to dig up.

These Parkland students didn’t just give us advocacy on gun rationality; they point to other ways to take on corruption in the system.

– Steve