A few days ago, John Hinderaker asked why President Obama was putting so much effort into a seemingly futile political push on gun control. An article in today’s Washington Post, provides a possible answer. The piece suggests that the growth of suburbs in key states is changing the political calculus on guns in Congress. As population in many large states shifts from rural areas to suburbs, attitudes toward gun control shift accordingly.
Look at it this way. Married parents in suburbs are a core Republican constituency. Rightly or wrongly, many of those parents think gun control might make their school-aged kids safer. So the gun issue gives Obama a way of appealing to a key segment of the Republican base. Win or lose, it makes sense for him to press the debate.
The irony is that, although he doesn’t tout this aspect of his policies, Obama is deeply committed to an anti-suburban philosophy of regionalism and “smart growth.” He’s already made moves in this new term that cut heavily against the interests of suburbanites, and more may be on the way. Republicans have been reluctant to highlight the anti-suburban side of Obama’s policies, but he’s apparently showing no similar reluctance to pursue wedge issues designed to pick off suburban swing voters from Republicans.