One of the most common and widespread comments when it comes to politics is that there is nothing that an average citizen can do. People have bought into the polispeak and think their votes don’t matter. They have been lulled into thinking that letters don’t get read, and complaints/commentary (whether on blogs/newspapers/social media) just get lost in the 24/7 news cycle. This is all incorrect.
Just as a quick note on how much a vote matters. In fact its a subject too long for this article (maybe another in the future). But let’s just do a quick observation – we all agree that politicians hate to waste money (separate of taxpayer funded pork-barrel projects). Politicians build up warchests of money, exclusively to run ads and direct mailings for their re-election efforts. Take Governor Andrew Cuomo as an example.
By July 2018, Governor Cuomo amassed over $31 million in campaign donations. That’s mostly big donor donations, though tricks like donations for $1 each have been used to hide this. As the New York Times noted July 17, 2018, Gov. Cuomo used the funds to,
“He has offered a chance to win Billy Joel tickets… And he has invested in a raft of digital ads and advertised an unlimited-drinks happy hour in Manhattan for only $5, though the format had to be scotched to avoid running afoul of state rules… Cuomo’s report showed that so far he has spent more on television ads, $1.7 million, than Ms. Nixon has raised in total. He spent another $93,000 on polling.”
Based on 200 California election campaigns in 2017, an estimated average of $3.81/vote was spent, just so you remember a name. In some cases almost as much as $40/vote, just for you – just in case you exercise your Constitutional Right.
With millions gathered and spent, outside of presidential races, votes are expensive and in demand. Thus ratings from major organizations (often coming with donations for some of the highest rated) are an easy source for boosting donations and spreading positive name recognition. The National Rifle Association rating is one of those critical organizations.
It was June 18, 2018 that we sent a letter to the NRA. This was after several months of research on the issue of Red Flag legislation. The focus was to elected officials in New York State, but by no means limited to just that State.
We identified 11 members of the New York State Assembly. Each of them had voted at least once for Red Flag Bills in 2018. Each was previously rated between 90-100% by the NRA, earning a B- or A-rating. The letter demanded that NRA review, correct the rating, and deny future funding for every Assemblymember we listed.
There wasn’t a lot of fanfare on the letter, though it was read wide and far. The letter, like the speech given by M V Consulting president Michael “Vass” Vasquez, reached the internet search engines and social media – though likely suppressed as Twitter and Google have admitted they have algorithms in place to do. The NRA didn’t comment. But then quietly on October 15th the answer was presented.
This was the result: [Values are from VoteSmart – October 16, 2018]
|Rating before NY SAFE Act||Rating after NY SAFE Act||October 2018 rating|
NY – 119
NY – 122
NY – 126
NY – 100
NY – 123
NY – 121
NY – 38
NY – 3
NY – 12
NY – 127
By no means do we assume that our letter to the NRA, by itself, caused the correction of these ratings on firearm issues for New York State Assembly members. There were of course multiple factors – the aforementioned Red Flag Bills being a major item. At the same time, several of these elected officials have gaps in the years that they were rated. The attention from concerned gun owners, plus our efforts to highlight the ERPO proposals and those that voted for them, certainly helped. Politicians and political institutions pay attention when the public stirs.
Also of interest is Anthony Brindisi and his current 7% or “F” rating, more than reversing the prior ratings he had touted to some. He is currently running for the NY-22 congressional seat. Besides the 2 votes in favor of the Extreme Risk Protection Orders, he has been noted for his fluctuating stance on gun control and firearm related issues. As an example, April 25, 2018 the
Again, many factors go into any specific rating. But every time that attention is put on those ratings, and serious issues are discussed widely – especially without major news media promotion – a far more accurate and detailed result happens.