The current mess the NRA is in alarms me. I've been following it at a bit of a distance, and it appears to be a multi-level failure, based on the mistaken belief that the organization was an endless "cash cow."
NRA is often accused by opponents of "leveraging fear" in fundraising, as if that was somehow wrong; donations to the Electronic Frontier Foundation go up when online freedoms appear most under attack; the American Civil Liberties Union is quick to issue press releases on abuses of Constitutionally-protected rights and lo, this affects their take. Surprise, people donate when causes they support are under threat.
Get a Republican in the White House, especially if there's a GOP majority in the House and/or Senate, and NRA donations dwindle.
After eight years of President Obama's support of antigunners, however hollow, NRA executives and their deeply-entwined ad agency were fat, happy and overly complacent. The fight was on! Until late 2016, when suddenly it wasn't.
It is clear the rot had been building for awhile. Now the pool of dollars was shrinking and however you care to characterize the tussle between Wayne LaPierre, Oliver North, ad agency Ackerman-McQueen (to which PR had been hugely and expensively outsourced) and various factions of the Board of Directors, one thing stands out: they're fighting over money.
Gun rights ain't in it.
Ack-Mac never gave a flip about the Second Amendment, and why should they? They're an advertising agency; caring about anything but the bottom line is a huge drawback in that line of work and the way you keep an ad agency toeing the mark is to ensure that getting your message across is crucial to their income. Instead, Ack-Mac was given a great deal of freedom to determine what the message should be, and the end result was more than a little inward-looking and self-serving. And out of touch with a lot of the membership.
NRA's executives, meanwhile, isolated from much of the hurly-burly of messaging and outreach, appear to have relied on what Ack-Mac was telling them, and on having a compliant, bloated Board of Directors that could be counted on to rubber-stamp whatever the leadership wanted.
Nobody, save a few members of the Board, was listening to the membership.
When the money started to get tighter, pretty much everyone reacted to save their jobs and didn't look to survival of the organization as a whole.
Until Chris Cox got the axe, I was mainly just watching. Watching in no little alarm, but figuring NRA would weather the storm and emerge, leaner, meaner and with a renewed sense of mission. I'm starting to doubt that. Wayne LaPierre's got the survival instinct of a cockroach -- and is just as much of a team player. Whoever he's got to push overboard to stay in power, he will. Board members who have spoken out publicly are finding themselves kicked off of committees -- pardon me, not invited to continue serving.
Is it going to continue to be the National Rifle Association, or is it just hanging around to keep a few people living in the style to which they'd like to remain accustomed?
2020 is coming. Bloomberg's pockets are deep. There's a even chance we're going to have a Democrat President in the next go-round, and the odds aren't much worse that he or she will have a (slim) Congressional majority as well. If the NRA isn't focused in their core mission by then, it's going to mean a lot more than an executive or three losing their phony-baloney jobs.
NRA's going off the rails and I don't know know how to fix it. The people who can do the most, soonest, are in Fairfax, Virginia. It's time they got to it.
4 months ago