"I'm going to say there are more people like me who carry this card, and they're proud to have a card saying they support Second Amendment rights, who enjoy the rights I have as a United States citizen. I just want my other fellow members to know what we're trying to do. That brings credibility to our cause."
-- Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WVA), on why he's not going to quit the NRA
I am sure that there are more people like Joe Manchin who are like him. That's not inherently a great reason to do anything, mind you. After all, unless you're an amoeba that can replicate all on your own and doesn't need anyone else, anything in life can say there are more like you. For that matter, even an amoeba can say, "There are more like me that replicate asexually."
There are 4.5 million members of the NRA, so absolutely yes, there are most definitely more people like Sen. Joe Manchin that carry this card. Then again, there are more people than even that who carry the AAA card -- 50 million more, actually -- so carrying a card doesn't mean much. (Unless your tire goes out, and you need a tow.) In fact, once upon a time, the Republican Party made carrying a card a bad thing, though that was just about whether or not you were a communist, so the senator might want to always be much more clear about what card he's referring to about being a card-carrying member of.
I don't think that Mr. Manchin, a lifetime member of the NRA, has any reason to give up his membership in the organization. But I'm a member of the NRA" doesn't explain anything.
The problem is that Sen. Manchin's words are so flibberty-gibberty empty they're meaningless. He points with great pride that he carries an NRA carried to support the Second Amendment. Well, first of all, an NRA card doesn't do that in the slightest. Carrying an NRA card supports gun manufacturers. That's what the NRA is, no matter how many pretty ribbons you tie around it. The NRA is a lobby group owned and operated by gun manufacturers to facilitate selling as many guns as possible. But secondly, since the senator's main reason for carrying an NRA card is, by his own words, that he wants to support the Second Amendment, then why in the world doesn't he also have a card from the ACLU supporting the First Amendment? (Hey, it came first!) Or why doesn't he carry a card in the NAACP to support the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery? Surely he's for that? Or a card that supports any amendment -- no doubt he thinks they're all pretty good and worth preserving, doesn't he?? (I'm waiting for Sen. Machin to pull out his card supporting the 16th Amendment, to show his support of the government's right to collect income taxes.)
But then, for that matter, why doesn't Joe Manchin carry a card for the Constitution Society that simply supports the entire Constitution of the United States? That would seem a great coverall for not just supporting the Second Amendment and all the amendments, but...well, everything in the Constitution! Doesn't he support the Constitution? Wearing a flag pin doesn't cut it. (Then again, in his biography photo on his Senate website he doesn't have a lapel pin, so I don't know. I will assume that he's patriotic, but just didn't dress well that day.)
If Joe Manchin wants to vote against background checks for guns, that's his right. If citizens want to vote for Joe Manchin -- or against him -- for this reason, that's their right. If Joe Manchin wants to carry an NRA membership card, that's his right, as well. But it would just be nice if he said something on the subject that would be substantive.
For instance, "Why would I quit when I'm trying to change from within?" he asked. Swell. If you don't want to quit, don't quit. But what would those actions you're taking to change from within actually be? It would be lovely to know, if only for other people to support him in those actions! In fact, what would be even lovelier to know is what it is specifically he thinks the NRA is doing wrong that he actually wants to change -- whether from within, without or upside down?
When people say they're for change, for all we know it just means they like dimes and nickels.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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