If the GOP is searching for a life line, it need look no further than the NRA

If the GOP is searching for a life line, it need look no further than the NRA

Assuming the Republican Party is serious about its mission — to grow its base and elect its candidates — it could begin by emulating the National Rifle Association, a group that has been practically invincible, even in the face of tragedies like the Newtown massacre.

Here’s what I mean.

Polish the party image:

The left’s traditional perception of the GOP is similar to its stereotypical NRA member. It sees a Republican as a stodgy, cigar-chomping white fat-cat, while it perceives an NRA member as an overweight, tobacco-chewing redneck.

Both characterizations are patently false, but while the NRA takes elaborate measures to polish its image, the GOP falls far short.

Today’s NRA is represented by a team of commentators coming from all walks of life, but who nonetheless possess common traits: They’re all young, hip and attractive.


They include, according to Bearing Arms:

  • a gay multi-racial ex-Google employee (Chris Cheng)
  • a Venezuelan Olympian immigrant (Gabby Franco)
  • a white female (Natalie Foster)
  • a bespectacled hipster (Billy Johnson)
  • an African-American lawyer (Colion Noir)
  • a former navy SEAL (Dom Raso)
  • a former beauty queen turned tactical training company CEO (Nikki Turpeaux)

Each commentator delivers a simple, direct message covering a single facet of his area of expertise. The videos themselves include, sound effects and utilize varying camera angles to keep the viewer interested and engaged.

When the NRA debuted its team last year, The Huffington Post cried “foul” and claimed it to be a shoddy attempt to “pander to women, minorities [and] veterans.” Not at all. They merely demonstrate that people of all backgrounds enjoy sport shooting, and the NRA is a “big tent” group because of it.

The GOP could do much the same — collect a team of young, bright professionals to deliver brief messages on whatever subject interests them. A physician could cover health issues, a young veteran could talk about national defense and an economist could tackle, well, economics.

No politicians allowed — just young, personable people with an ability to convey a simple message in an interesting manner.

Stick to your guns:

The NRA’s position has been unwavering since its inception. It opposes any legislation that infringes the Second Amendment rights of Americans — period.

The GOP isn’t quite so steadfast.

On the issue of immigration reform, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), has gone from favoring a comprehensive bill, to advocating a series of step-by-step measures, before going back to pushing for a comprehensive package. On the Senate side, Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), touted the “Gang of Eight” bill he helped draft; now, not so much.

It gets dizzying trying to keep up and leaves everyone unsure of what, if anything, the party stands for.

Kevin D. Williamson opined in National Review Online last year that America was becoming “paradoxically more conservative and less friendly to Republicans.” This isn’t terribly surprising given the GOP’s leftward crawl and uncertain identity. Remember your roots and again, stick to your guns.

Give an occasional outrageous and memorable statement:

Immediately after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, the left excoriated firearm owners and called on politicians to enact stiffer gun control measures. NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre chose instead to wait a respectable period of time before offering his own observation: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

The left howled at the NRA chief for making what it considered an outlandish and callous statement. But LaPierre knew something the liberal politicians, pundits and media had never considered. Sooner or later, events would vindicate his statement — and it has been, many times over.

Twenty months after Sandy Hook, no one remembers precisely the accusations and calls for action; but everyone remembers “good guy-bad guy.”

Seek creative ways to keep the coffers filled:

LaPierre once said that while former New York City Mayor and rabid gun control proponent Michael Bloomberg has $50 million at his disposal to push for stiffer gun measures, the NRA has nearly five million members, each willing to contribute $25.

And for those members who contribute a bit more or renew a tad early, the NRA offers something in return like a clock, a pocketknife or flashlight.

But everyone receives something other than a membership card. They get the informative commentary discussed above as well as some pretty slick magazines — one so slick that it gave Media Matters for America, a group that monitors conservative media, a serious hissy-fit. This brings us to my final NRA-inspired suggestion.

Use media to attract America’s youth:


The NRA launched a lifestyle magazine — NRA Sharp — earlier this year, and tailored it to the young professionals who are increasingly becoming aware of the joys of shooting. The magazine recently posted a pairing of high-end firearms with seemingly unrelated high-end products that apparently the left considers their own personal domain.

Media Matters reported:

An August 4 post on NRA Sharp matches firearms, including an assault weapon, to their “‘mainstream’ cultural equals,” namely BMW, Nike, luxury watchmaker Patek Philippe, and Apple. As the post explains, “We believe these pairings boost both brands to their full potential.”

NRA Sharp matches Blaser, a manufacturer of high-end hunting rifles, with German car company BMW, describing both products as “German-made monsters of design” that can be used “to experience the elemental thrill of shooting/driving.”

The root of Media Matters’ complaint is apparently the younger, more affluent and increasingly feminine faces making up NRA’s membership — and that infuriates the left.

The “New NRA” isn’t so much revolutionary as it is evolutionary. While I doubt it ever was characterized by the tobacco juice-spitting redneck, it’s also no longer represented by the late actor Charlton Heston, proclaiming in his distinctive baritone voice, “from my cold dead hands” while raising a musket high above his head.

The NRA is simply keeping up with the times and attracting younger members while still maintaining its essential identity. The GOP needs to do the same.

Michael Dorstewitz

Michael Dorstewitz

Michael Dorstewitz is a recovering Michigan trial lawyer and former research vessel deck officer. He has written extensively for BizPac Review.


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