As a veteran of the USAF and a Christian and a family man, I never thought I would own a weapon in my home. At least not until after my kids grew up and out of the house. Barack Obama's time in office as well as the vitriolic oppression of the left in this nation over the last 8 years and the outright abuse we on the right have taken since the craziness of the 2000 election and even before that during the Clinton years when we were attacked for holding President (shudder) Clinton to a standard no different than we hold our best friends to. You could say that we've been holding our patience for 24 years. 28 if you count George H.W. Bushes failed promise to lower taxes.
As for me I'm only 37 years old. When George H.W. Bush took office I was only 9 years old. Same age as my oldest son today. And when Bush Sr. lost to Bill Clinton I was 13. As a young adult I remember watching the election returns on our old tube TV in the basement of our house. I didn't know anything about politics but I do know it was disappointing but it wasn't the end of the world. Little did I know how badly things would get.
The Reagan years were amazing. We were proud of our country. We all got along. Sure, I was merely a child but politics was more of an afterthought. We were at war with Russia and the Green Bay Packers just plain sucked. We could handle it. We went to school. Learned. Made friends. We grew up together and worked toward making our world a better place among our peers, neighbors and communities. Maybe it's my naivety, maybe it's because I was nothing but a toddler in the 80's but life was GOOD. People were happy. We trusted the news to tell us what was happening in the world.
Something happened though. I don't know if it was backlash from the Republicans going after Bill Clinton for getting "hummers" in the White House or if it was simply a matter of the flower child baby boomers taking over every facet of society...but something changed. And not for the better. Sure we had the LA Riots in 1993 because of Rodney King. (Who was no innocent saint by the way. Don't get me wrong those cops were wrong in what they did to him though too.) We had our problems but none of them were so bad that we couldn't wake up the next day and press on with our joy.
It was the 2000 election that made me realize that something bad was brewing in America. My Dad would tell me it was starting long before that but I first realized that there was a divide in America that was brewing that just a matter of time would explode all over the face of this nation and had the potential to destroy us all.
The reaction to the 2000 election was a pivot in America that exposed how divided this country was and how deep those divides were going.
"George Bush STOLE THE ELECTION!", they screamed.
"The Electoral College is OLD AND USELESS!", they cried.
Questioning the Electoral College? They couldn't be serious. They were.
I didn't understand a LOT of what I understand now but even I had my reservations at the time about how the electoral process works in this country. I now appreciate the wisdom of the electoral college having studied the ramifications of a straight popular vote. Basically it comes down to "Screw you Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago! You don't get to choose who the next President is for the rest of the country!" If that offends you, then you should consider moving to another country that's based on a true democracy and see how quickly your voice gets squashed by the majority with pitchforks and roadside bombs.
But I digress. The divide in this country was starting to rear it's ugly head in 2000. When I joined the Air Force in November of 2000 at the height of the bickering over the results of that election, I remember telling my Training Instructors that if Al Gore won the Presidency I was going to seek a separation from the military because I refused to serve under an Al Gore administration. Sure, at 21 years old I was hot-headed and a big-talker. I'll never know whether or not I would have followed through on that threat. Thank God.
This told me something though. America was divided like never before. And it wasn't getting any better.
In 2004 I was out of the USAF after a medical discharge but after the 2000 election I decided to get involved. I volunteered for the Outagamie Republican Party as a Ward Captain for George W. Bushes re-election campaign. I was proud of Bushes handling of 9/11 and the subsequent ousting of Saddam Hussein. I truly believed in him and wanted to make sure to avoid another 2000 election fiasco.
During that time I also moved to Kenosha and volunteered for the Kenosha County Republican Party briefly while living with my brother. I got a chance to actually meet a young Reince Preibus before he became the Chairman of the GOP. I had already begun to move more Independent in my political ideologies but supported George W. Bush 100%.
When I met Mr. Priebus I remember shaking his hand and asking him, "So, why am I voting for you?" In retrospect I see how rude and awkward of a question that was to ask while standing in the Kenosha County GOP headquarters just as George W. Bush was rolling into town for a meet and greet. But I was certain that I wanted to be an informed voter and was grasping at any way to justify every vote on my ballot I was going to make.
I didn't really get a great answer but I decided to vote for him any way. I'm glad I did because he couldn't have been more pivotal in Donald Trump's success than he was. I'm actually really proud of him. I had my reservations but Reince proved me wrong.
After moving back to Appleton and going back to Technical College for IT the 2004 election came to a close. George Bush won but the win was bittersweet. Instead of uniting America, it only fanned the flames still burning from the 2000 election. I recall saying to an instructor at the Tech that we are going to see a Civil War in this country in the next 15 years. Little did I know what we'd have to go through before it gets that far.
As the 2000's came to a close and the Democrats took over the senate and the Housing Bubble created by bad policies of the Clinton years busted. Things were looking grim for 2008. What was George W. Bush's solution?
With all that was bad in America in the late 2000's I still had a little hope for our country. But it was fading fast. Betrayed by the Bush administration and the leadership in both houses of congress, I could see something was wrong. The people were not in control of their government. Something else was happening. Something sinister. Something unthinkable. I went down the rabbit hole. I swallowed the red pill.