I address this to all the women (and men) who wear their red Moms Demand Action t-shirts. I realize that you think, though misguidedly, that you are doing something to promote gun control so as to stop the criminal misuse of firearms.
How does it feel to learn that you are nothing but a useful pawn in Mike Bloomberg’s quest for more and more political power?
From the (progressive) paper of record aka the New York Times who just did a long story on the interrelationship between Mike Bloomberg’s charitable giving and his political ambition.
Everytown is managed directly by one of Mr. Bloomberg’s close lieutenants, John Feinblatt, a former New York deputy mayor whose wedding Mr. Bloomberg officiated in 2011. Numerous people connected to the group said it channeled Mr. Bloomberg’s priorities, including his strong preference for working with both parties.
The organization came into existence through an almost corporate-style merger: Mr. Bloomberg already had a gun control group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, but he needed a grass-roots army to compete with the National Rifle Association. So it joined forces with an existing activist group, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, to form Everytown.
People involved in the group described being forced to communicate exclusively in canned talking points. Kate Ranta, shot twice by her ex-husband in front of her young son, was a member of Everytown’s network of survivors. She was asked to address a rally on the steps of the Capitol, along with her son. Standing beside Nancy Pelosi, then the House minority leader, and Representative John Lewis, she found herself stumbling over the text she had been given.
“Someone from Everytown wrote my speech. It was pushing their legislative agenda versus my authentic voice,” Ms. Ranta said. “I couldn’t say ‘gun control.’ It was moderate messaging — ‘gun safety’ and ‘gun violence prevention.’”
Other members greatly appreciated the new direction from Everytown. “A structure began to be put into place, and we could avail ourselves of the data that was offered so we could speak more intelligently,” said June Rubin, a Moms Demand Action volunteer in New York. “So we’re focused and single-issue and highly recognizable and speaking with one voice, and it’s powerful.”
The policy agenda was to be focused on tightening background checks; more radical ideas like banning assault weapons were off the table. “There were people who were very, very troubled by that,” Ms. Rubin said. “I became very pragmatic.”
More confrontational tactics were also rejected. After the mass shooting last year at a Walmart in El Paso, Tex., other groups organized protests to pressure the retailer to change its policies. But Moms members were discouraged from attending and told not to show any affiliation if they did. One Moms official told volunteers in a closed Facebook group that doing otherwise could “undercut our relations with responsible gun owners whose support we need.”
“Our goal is always to get results, and sometimes that means playing the outside game and sometimes it requires playing the inside game and working with partners who have shown themselves to be amenable to change,” said Maxwell Young, chief of public affairs for Everytown. “We’ve found Walmart to be an ally on gun safety and an example of a leader always willing to engage in productive conversations.”
You thought you could leave. You thought you could go your own way. You thought you and Everytown/Moms Demand were done with one another.
Not so fast.
Former members of Moms Demand Action, who had been cut off from private Facebook groups and blocked by leadership on Twitter, were surprised when they received emails from Mike Bloomberg 2020. Then they learned his campaign had rented the group’s email list, for $3.2 million, two days before he announced his candidacy in November.
It is like one of those messianic-led, off in the ozone cults. You try to leave but they will always come looking for you…because no one is allowed to leave.
But don’t feel too bad as you debate should you burn that red Moms Demand t-shirt. You aren’t alone. There aren’t many progressive or liberal constituencies that Mike Bloomberg hasn’t tried to buy on his way to grab for political power.
Climate change activists? Ask the Sierra Club.
Women’s rights? Ask Emily’s List.
Education policy? Ask NC’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson.
Abortion? Ask Planned Parenthood.
And the list goes on. Mike Bloomberg may engage in sexist and racist behavior and fly in a fleet of private jets but his money buys willful ignorance and useful pawns.