By Brent Budowsky - 06/12/13 10:49 PM EDT
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s big blunder of calling on donors to withdraw support for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic senators who voted against background checks is a windfall victory for the National Rifle Association (NRA), rightist Republicans and the GOP dream of winning control of both Houses of Congress in the 2014 elections.
Bloomberg should retract his bad idea and focus his worthy energies on tactics that will help champions of gun control instead of unwittingly helping opponents of gun control.
While I condemn Bloomberg’s tactic, I feel Bloomberg’s pain. Within the first hours of the Newtown, Conn., massacre of America’s children, the president and top Democrats effectively surrendered any battle to win an assault weapons ban. They surrendered any battle to limit high-capacity magazines. They surrendered — yet again — with their submissive acceptance of Republican filibusters in the Senate.
President Obama began with magnificent words, but when the NRA bully instantly attacked, the president instantly retreated, wasting weeks of time with a pointless task force that regurgitated known ideas, which in the case of the bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, were privately surrendered before they were formally proposed.
The bully won because the game was fixed before it began. Bloomberg has every right to be unhappy.
Similarly, when any leading Democrat speaks of winning 70 Senate votes for immigration reform, true immigration reformers should hold their wallets tight with both hands.
Public statements about seeking 70 votes amount to announcements of future surrenders by Democrats. First, they will say they must move the bill further to the right to get those 70 votes. Then they will say they must move the bill even further to the right to pass the House. And then they will say will say they must accept the most rightist provisions when the House and Senate meet in conference.
In my view, the path to citizenship should not be given up, watered down, delayed, diluted or destroyed — with or without 70 votes.
Republicans will not accept an immigration bill because Democrats are nice to them, but because they are in mortal fear of Hispanic voters. As they should be.
The Bloomberg move against campaign donations for Democrats will not help elect his allies. It would help elect rightist candidates and help give Senate control to Republicans who even more fervently oppose gun control. It is worse than a waste — it is a windfall for the NRA, paid for by Bloomberg, aided and abetted by donors unwise enough to follow his advice.
In my view, the NRA bully is a paper tiger waiting to be beaten. The cowardice of certain senators should not obscure the clarity of the cause. Most voters agree with us. Get them to the polls, and we win.
Here is my advice to Bloomberg and donors. Find 10 key races for the Senate, 30 key races for the House and key races for governor in 2014 and go all-in for candidates who support things we believe in and are running against candidates who do not. Go to the country. Organize, attack, escalate and prevail in 2014.
Donors should focus their time, energy and money — generously — on things that win elections and change power structures, especially voter registration, mobilization and turnout in key races.
Elections are won or lost based on who registers and votes, and who does not.
The best way to stand up for the children of Newtown is to register lots of new voters to elect candidates who stand with them — and defeat candidates who stand with the guns that kill them.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.