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Sierra Daily

Jun 29, 2011

Stop Moaning and Speak Up


So, when's the last time you called your Representative about how important climate change/clean energy/wilderness protection was to you? Uh huh. And when was the last time you rewarded said Representative for voting the right way with a little campaign cash at election time? Uh huh. Well, that explains a lot. Because here comes Harvard sociology professor Howard Schuman with the graphs to show why grumping about an issue on Facebook just isn't going to cut it. Here (via the Monkey Cage) he looks at surveys of attitudes (for example) toward gun laws. The graph at right shows strong attitudes pro and con requiring gun owners to obtain a license from the police: pretty even in 1978, with a substantial edge for those favoring registration in 2011. You'd think that that would result in legislation requiring registration for gun ownership, wouldn't you? Until you looked at Schuman's next graph:Gunwritemoney  

This time the question was:

Have you ever written a letter [2011: or sent an email] to a public official expressing your views on gun permits or given money to an organization concerned with this issue?

So even though the numbers favoring and opposing registration were fairly even in 1978, and weighted toward registration in 2011, the folks on the other side did the heavy lifting of writing their representatives and giving money to the NRA. Game, set, match.

--Paul Rauber

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