When it comes to our civil liberties, the first line of defense is an old Marine with a Coors Light in one hand and a Remington 870 in the other. He’s got his mask pulled down over his chin and a Winston Red dangling from his lips. He has eight Trump stickers on the back of his truck and one that says “Booty Hunter” just to mix things up. He’s got the Confederate flag tattooed on his left arm and—of course—he’s wearing a MAGA hat.
This specter haunts Washington: the specter of Middle America. Call him Old Red.
Old Red looms over every meeting of the CDC, the FBI, the DHS, and the ATF. They never speak of him, but they all see him. And the apparatchiks know the moment they overstep their authority they’re going to have to deal with hundreds of thousands of pissed-off rustics. Really, there’s no telling how many Beltway power-grabs were abandoned for fear of the Great White Rube.
As bad as things are getting here in the States, we can’t fathom how much worse things would be without these down-home heroes. Sure, they might carry their paranoid anti-government theories a little too far. But their paranoia is far from unfounded, and even if they sometimes over-react, they keep America from falling into the opposite extreme: creeping tyranny, Aussie style. You can’t boil a frogs if he flips out every time you reach for the knob.
Like them, I’d prefer the burdens of liberty to a warm, sterile despotism. And that seems like an old-fashioned, all-American instinct to me. I can’t see Davey Crockett “sheltering in place” because the Department of Public Health asked him to. I can’t see Teddy Roosevelt triple-masking. I can’t see Johnny Cash stanning Dr. Fauci.
[This is a excerpt from my latest piece for The American Conservative. You can read the rest on TAC’s website.