Michael Moore Thinks He Knows About Guns & Trump. He Needs To Think Again.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t write a response to something Michael Moore wrote except that his movie Bowling for Columbine, makes him something of a gun guy, or at least a self-professed observer of Gun-mob Nation, so I’m going to respond to the prediction he has just made that Trump will be elected President come November 8th. And the reason I am going to respond is that much of what he claims to be the harbingers of a Trump victory are based on what he believes are Trump’s appeal to the classic, gun-guy electorate, namely, the pissed-off older White men who think that it’s time to ‘shake things up.’

mooreI probably talk to a lot more guys who are going to vote for Trump than Moore has ever talked to, because I know a lot more guys who own guns. But you know what’s funny about all those older, pissed-off, gun-loving White guys who are going to vote for Trump? None of them ever voted for a Democrat no matter what.  They’ve always voted Republican and they always will.  And the fact that this year’s Republican nominee comes out and says in public what many older, pissed-off White men have been forced, until now, to say in private, doesn’t change the dynamic of this election one bit.

I love how Moore believes that ‘facts and logic’ won’t stop Trump because 16 Republican candidates tried the same thing during the primaries and they all lost.  Tried the same thing?  Rubio and Cruz ran campaigns based on facts and logic?  Was Michael Moore listening to the same speeches that I heard?  Come on, give me a break.

Michael’s absolutely correct when he says that Trump’s advantage lies in the fact that his supporters don’t need to be coaxed or pushed or even reminded to show up on November 8th.  But if he believes that Obama beat Romney in swing states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio just because minority voters figured out how to get themselves to the polls, then he doesn’t know anything about how a national election campaign organization really works. And if Hillary doesn’t put together a ground game (and God knows she has the money to do it) that will get her voters into the booth, then she doesn’t deserve to win.

Last year a sociologist at the University of Toronto, Jennifer Carlson, discovered a new gun ‘culture’ in the Rust Belt; in fact, she did her fieldwork in Michael Moore’s most favorite city, a.k.a., Flint.  And what she found in Flint by going to a shooting range were some guys who were dispossessed factory workers, rust-belt victims of the post-Industrial, Information Age, who were all into guns.  And the reason they all carried guns was because they didn’t trust the government to protect them, to keep them secure, to do anything for them at all.

Michael Moore made his bones in the movie business by romanticizing and, at the same time, deftly denigrating these dispossessed people in Rodger and Me, which was a movie about the collapse of Flint. So when he talks about the ‘carcass’ of the Middle Class in the Rust Belt coming out to vote for Mister Trump, he’s spent some time editing film that made his movies clever and appealing, regardless of whether they had anything to do with reality or not.

So here’s reality Michael.  With all due respect to the newly-emerging gun culture in the upper Midwest, most of the 100 million new guns that were added to the civilian arsenal during the administration of Barack Obama went to people who live in the Sunbelt. And to the extent that guns go to residents of states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, most of them go to the same smaller towns and rural communities where they always have gone.

I’m not saying that Trump can’t win on November 8th.  I’m saying that he won’t win if he’s hoping a majority of voters are as pissed off as those gun guys up in Flint.

Advertisements

A New Book On CCW That Deserves To Be Read.

Jennifer Carlson teaches sociology at the University of Toronto but has just published a book on America and its guns.  The book, Citizen-Protectors, The Everyday Politics of Guns in an Age of Decline, is a little misleading, because the decline which Professor Carlson studied took place only in Flint, MI and the shabbier sections of Detroit.  Analyses of Rust Belt socio-economic alienation are hardly new (think Clint’s Gran Torino) but Carlson’s attempt to explain CCW as a paradigm through which to understand the human response to things going from bad to worse is a somewhat novel interpretation of why many Americans appear to be turning to guns.

Basically, Carlson argues that the notion of armed citizens, or what she refers to as ‘citizen-protectors,’ responds to fears of economic and social insecurities that pervade neighborhoods in economically-depressed cities like Flint.  Most of the guys she interviewed (Carlson was the only gun-carrying female mentioned in the book) were not motivated to carry guns out of any ideological or high-minded ideals; they had been threatened or attacked or otherwise felt that carrying a gun was simply something that daily life circumstances compelled them to do.  On the part of Whites, the overriding concern was fear of crime; on the part of Blacks it was a conviction that the cops weren’t there to help them out.

holsterw                The author explains how the NRA’s push for CCW and elimination of gun-free zones has neatly captured the concerns of both Whites and Blacks who carry guns in Flint and Detroit.  She correctly refers to the ‘moral politics’ of armed self-defense, which not only takes the form of believing that gun-carriers are law-abiding citizens, but that carrying a gun is actually a fundamentally-sound way to uphold the law.  The idea that America should depend first and foremost on armed citizens has been the NRA rallying-cry for the past twenty years, and if you don’t believe me, just read what Wayne LaPierre said about carrying guns after the massacre at Sandy Hook. What Carlson believes is that socio-economic decline, among other things leads to the collapse of public faith in public institutions to maintain the peace.  What more propitious atmosphere in which to promote the idea that guns represent a social good?

I would have no problem with Carlson’s argument had she kept her focus on places like Flint and Detroit.  But she’s after bigger game, what the end-notes refer to as a ‘captivating and revealing look at gun culture,’ and here I’m not so sure that the book completely succeeds.  Notwithstanding the fact that the number of CCW permits has probably doubled in the last ten years, the biggest increase in concealed-carry activity has taken place in parts of the country which benefited from the movement of people and industries away from Rust Belt cities like Flint and Detroit. Does the socio-economic alienation template constructed by Carlson for concealed-carry in Michigan explain the growth of gun-carrying in states like Florida, Texas or other Sun Belt states?  To me, that’s something of a stretch.

Notwithstanding the enormous upsurge in gun sales during the administration of you-know-who, the fact is that a smaller percentage of people own guns now then owned them ten years ago, and the demographics of gun ownership (older white males living in rural areas and smaller cities and towns) has basically remained unchanged.  I’m not disputing what Carlson discovered by going around to shooting ranges in Detroit and Flint, but the latter’s population has dropped by 50% since 1970, with Detroit losing almost two-thirds during the same forty-five years. Even if every single qualified adult in both cities went out to buy and carry a gun, it would make precious little difference in the overall downward trend of gun ownership in the United States.

Jennifer Carlson has published an interesting book and some of the comments about guns on her blog are really a ‘must read.’ Now that she’s done roaming around Detroit and is back in Toronto, I’d love to know what she did with her gun.