“Eyes Wide Open”, #1- “The Ultimate Weapon of Choice”, Blog by Kristin Matheny
Recently, I had a conversation with a friend of mine. He’s not a Tea Partier, and he’s most definitely not a conservative. He voted for Obama, in fact, though he doesn’t really remember why. He, admittedly, says that he now realizes that he voted for Obama in 2008 because it was “cool”. He’s a smart guy, which is why I’ve questioned his decision for three years. I guess he never saw his bad decision as a “bad one” until now. Anyway, he was asking me about my involvement in the Tea Party, which is tough to explain to someone who has clearly lost his way politically. I was struggling for words, trying to frame my beliefs in a way that seemed both true and palatable, which is quite a task. Then, it hit me.
I patted my purse with the palm of my hand. “You know that I carry multiple weapons in here, right?”
He gave me a strange look. “I know that you carry a gun, yes, Kristin.” His eyes rolled.
“Well, obviously, I carry a gun. I have good reason to carry a gun. This world has become a scary place, and I have every right to defend myself and my family.” I anticipated the inevitable scowl, one of the “leftover reactions” from my friend’s days as an unabashed liberal.
“What else is in there,” he asked, half-smiling and craning his neck to see what was in my purse. “A machine gun? A semi-automatic? A grenade?” He laughed. “You crazy conservatives, I swear…”
I looked him square in the eye. “What I have in here is a million times as fierce as any machine gun around, pal.”
I wasn’t kidding. But I’ll get to my weapons of mass destruction later.
Talking about guns, I’m prompted to talk about this election. I view elections as “fights”. I know it’s not so politically correct, or kind, and it’s certainly not the marshmallow-fluff-and-rainbows view of elections that the lefties want you to believe that they believe in (“both sides of the aisle need to come together”, blah blah blah). I’m sorry, this election is all-out Armageddon to me, as I’m sure it is to most of you!
Now, not to overuse a played-out, antiquated cliché that I used to hear my (very conservative, gun-toting, God-fearing) father use constantly, but, in 2008, we Republicans “brought a knife to a gun fight”. I say “we” because, at that time, I was still a steadfast Republican. I saw the cards those lefties were bringing to the table, and their “ace in the hole” was a shiny, new toy for the media to play with, a celebrity candidate named Barack Obama. I saw the bulk of my own generation drool, twenty-somethings falling all over themselves to proudly plaster those ugly blue “Obama” bumper stickers all over their Honda Civics, right next to their college alumni license plate holders. Ohhhhh, they had a field day, didn’t they? Starry-eyed grad students and entry-level employees, driving to work, sipping their $5.00 lattes, yapping on their brand new Blackberries about how Obama was going to change the world. Obama Fever swept the media…swept the country…nobody bothering to look at his experience (“private sector, what’s that??”) or his alliances (Reverend Jeremiah Wright, anyone?) or his actual ideas (“ideas, he needs actual ideas beyond campaigning?”). Some of us saw the writing on the wall, some of us knew exactly where this was going. It was looking ugly, it was looking like…dare I say it…a real fight! The lefties were bringing out the big guns, big shiny guns with a lot of firepower. So what do we do?
We bring a knife to a gun fight. A dull, rusty butterknife, to be exact…by the name of John McCain.
So I, like so many of you, gritted my teeth as I marked my vote for the man I knew would never be the President of our country. I stood in line on Election Day in 2008, wearing my not-so-subtle NRA t-shirt, listening to people jabbering on about “ObamaObamaObamaObama” without any idea of why they were about to cast their votes for him. “He’ll make everything better.” “He’ll give us money.” “He’s the man.” I hated John McCain, I hated his waffling ways, his establishment ties, his unflinching support of so many programs I despised. He was barely conservative enough to land the “R” next to his name on the ballot…yet, he was the better man.
A butterknife, barely fit to cut through my one year old son’s soft-cooked carrots. Well, their shiny guns dominated our sad little butterknife and the gun fight was over.
For two years, I really let this eat away at me. I hadn’t voted for John McCain in the primary, and yet, I felt partly responsible for this choice. Could anyone in the race have beaten the Juggernaut of Clueless Politics? Probably not. But I stewed and simmered in my anger because I knew that I hadn’t done anything to stop it. I became interested in the Tea Party, I drifted from my GOP roots, I was determined to do my part to ensure that, the next time around, we’d “meet their guns” with even bigger guns…guns that had superior strength and deadly accuracy. The 2010 Elections only bolstered my hope in the fact that most Americans felt the way I did, and that many had “come to their senses” once the “Obama Ether” had worn off (seriously, I’m convinced that a drug company needs to come up with a placebo pill that does nothing, market it as a complete “panacea” of all ailments, and call it “Obama-prin”).
Then, Election 2012 draws near. We, as conservatives, are met with a revolving door of candidates, “one for every personality”…much like a Shoney’s buffet or something. Like social conservatives who like to pepper their speeches with subtle religious rhetoric? Vote for Santorum! Like Texans (or Texans who are quite “Texan-y”…and you know exactly what I mean…)? Vote for Perry! Like relative outsiders? Vote for Cain (or Huntsman)! It looked so great, so appetizing! As I pushed my little tray down the buffet line, I eyed each candidate. They all looked enticing for a moment, but as the race has gone on, many have lost their appeal. They’ve said troubling things…or they’ve remained silent on issues that they should have addressed. Some have become embroiled in scandal. Some have been heralded as “competition for Obama”, some have been labeled “media fodder”, even by members of their own party.
I did support Herman Cain. I really believed that his executive experience coupled with strong management skills and seeming resilience in the face of unfriendly lines of questioning would prove effective against the Golden Teleprompter himself, who would deflect tough questions and struggle to defend programs that proved to be utter failures (Obamacare, the invisible “Jobs Plan”, I could go on and on). Then, Cain floundered on international relations. Then, he flubbed questions in his last two debates about issues that I thought he knew a lot about. Then, the “death knell” as it were: The media latched onto these alleged claims of infidelity. Boom. Done. Gone the way of Gary Hart and other disgraced politicos that were never heard from again.
So, here I am, back at Square One. I’m confused. I’m determined. But now, I admit that my hope and eagerness to jump onboard a candidate’s “train to victory” had been overshadowed by intense fear. I know that there are things I really like and respect about each of the remaining candidates, but I cannot reconcile this sense of doom that I have. Is this going to be 2008 all over again? Will I feel how I felt the morning after the election? Will it be ten times worse? I look at my son and I can’t help but think that the game has changed now, it’s become far more serious. I wish I could believe in a candidate, but I can’t.
Three years later, my friend sat in front of me, asking me why I’m a Tea Party member. “I’m a Tea Party member…because I’m scared. And I’m a realist. And I’m pissed off.”
He took a sip of his $5.00 latte. “That’s it, Kristin? That’s all you’ve got?”
“Well…” I said, reaching into my purse, “I’m a Tea Partier because I carry multiple weapons with me.”
He jumped, “oh God, please don’t pull your gun out at Starbucks!”
I smiled and threw my tattered and well-worn pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution on the table. I’d ordered it from the Heritage Foundation years ago, and I’d read it hundreds of times. “THIS. This is the deadliest weapon I’ve got. Deadlier than the 9mm. Way deadlier than any pepper spray.”
He shook his head in disbelief. “I can’t say I disagree with you there.”
Looking back, those words ring with absolute truth. What were we thinking? In 2008, we brought a butterknife to a gun fight. We’re looking for guns to go to battle with in 2012. We’re looking in vain, people.
I’ve got the weapon we need to be going to the gun fight with. I’m just trying to decide which candidate sees it that way, too.