The Atlantic

AIPAC's Struggle to Avoid the Fate of the NRA

The organization is desperately trying to maintain its bipartisan membership and avoid the pull of polarization—but it’s almost certain to fail.
Source: Brian Snyder / Reuters

Commentators sometimes compare the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to the National Rifle Association. Both are powerful, controversial, single-issue, lobbying organizations. And both have had enormous success in shaping the Washington agenda.

But in their DNA, the two groups are utterly different. The NRA thrives on culture war. It produces videos attacking “lying member[s] of the media,” “Hollywood phon[ies],” and “athletes who use their free speech to alter and undermine what our flag represents.” Last week, at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, NRA head Wayne LaPierre warned of “socialists” who seek “to deny citizens their basic freedoms.”

Many of the progressives who loathe the NRA loathe AIPAC, too. But you’ll never find AIPAC’s leaders at a CPAC conference. That’s because while the NRA feeds off of ideological and partisan polarization, AIPAC fears it. While the NRA can maintain its influence via hardcore partisanship, AIPAC can only succeed

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic4 min read
A Historic NBA Championship for the Raptors
The Golden State Warriors were hampered by injuries, but the league’s newest victors were built to seize on the opportunity.
The Atlantic4 min readPolitics
Why Trump Uses Mock Spanish
When Donald Trump tweeted Thursday morning that Democrats “have gone absolutely ‘Loco,’” the most surprising thing about it was that he had never called anyone loco on Twitter before. There was a time last fall when Trump couldn’t stop using the Span
The Atlantic6 min readPolitics
The ‘Death Penalty’s Dred Scott’ Lives On
In 1987, the Supreme Court came within one vote of eliminating capital punishment in Georgia based on evidence of racial disparities. Instead, it created a precedent that civil-rights advocates have been fighting for decades.