Conservative Fictions: Just Vote out the RINOs, Get a Gun, and All Will Be Well

While those who are associated with what is commonly referred to as “the Left” do indeed inhabit a fantasy world, those on the so-called Right, in many critical respects, are no less susceptible to trading in fictions. One such fiction that I’ve addressed at length is that a gun is all that a person needs in order to defend himself. The other is that the salvation of the Republic depends upon nothing more or less than the electoral success of Republican politicians.

These two demonstrably false propositions have the same source. They are the offspring of the union of fear, and an aching desire for certainty

Conservatives are afraid. Consumers of Big Conservative media—fed, as they are, a steady diet of fear-porn by talking heads and scribblers who are forever besieging them with accounts of leftist outrages (while starving them of accounts of conservative victories)—are especially fearful. 

And, so, they cling to the belief that, while voting Republican hasn’t prevented any of the horror stories to which they are routinely treated by conservative influencers, if only they vote out the “RINOs,” then—then—all will be well and America will be made great again.

They cling as well to the belief that as long as they have their guns, as long as they practice shooting at a range, then (and only then) they won’t be defenseless.

Nor is this an oversimplification: If only readers of this column will step back away from the Matrix and attend carefully to what they hear and read on a daily basis, they will find that the telos, the entire point, of “Big Conservative” media is to corral as many people as possible into the ranks of the GOP.

To this end, they ensure that their constituents feel in the very marrow of their bones that unless they vote Republican, the Democrats will “disarm” them, i.e. confiscate their guns, thus leaving them vulnerable to the ravages of human predators.

At the same time, Big Conservative media personalities labor inexhaustibly to encourage citizens to rely for the protection of themselves and their loved ones upon . . . the very government that they’re always insisting is too big! Boys and girls should leave the job of defending innocents from bad guys to “the experts”: police at home and the military abroad. Back the blue!

Somehow, conservatives can’t seem to draw the line between point A and point B—between, respectively, this idolization of government agents and the very statism that they routinely decry. I suppose statists are only those who expect government to make provisions for their material well-being. Those who depend utterly upon government to protect them and those in their care, however, are somehow not “statists.” 

The most glaring (and tragic) of recent illustrations of the folly of relying upon the police to shield innocents is brought to us by the finest of Uvalde, Texas. As children—other people’s children—were crying for help, multiple police officers—all of whom were sporting body armor and packing heat and who arrived on the scene within three minutes after the mass killer arrived—stood outside of Robb Elementary School.

Nineteen children and two teachers were murdered.

Granted, the police in Uvalde shouldn’t be taken as representative of police generally. And there are indeed police officers throughout the country who have conducted themselves heroically. Nevertheless, each and every new day in America produces legions of crime victims and their surviving family members who know better than anyone that the police cannot prevent innocents from being victimized. And even on those occasions when they can (like in Uvalde on that day of infamy), there are times when, for whatever reason, they do not.

There is still another lesson to be drawn from the response of the Uvalde police: Just because a person, even a so-called “expert,” like a police officer, possesses a gun, a gun with which he undoubtedly had to practice at a shooting range, and even though he can be accompanied by other “experts” similarly armed with guns, none of this means that he possesses the will—the clarity, the moral conviction, and the raw determination—to use it to stop bipedal animals.

To maximize one’s odds of being victorious over the enemy while armed with a gun, one must train physically, mentally, and morally to maximize one’s odds of being victorious over the enemy with any weapon—starting with one’s natural weaponry, i.e. one’s body.

But conservatives don’t like to hear this. Judging from the responses to my arguments that I’ve received, it’s clear that conservatives are frightened. Like children who are certain that by simply keeping on a light they can deter things that go bump in the night, or Covidians, say, who are certain that by wearing a mask they can protect themselves from a cold virus infinitesimal in size, so conservatives are certain that as long as they possess a gun, no additional training of any sort is necessary to protect themselves while under duress and within the dynamic conditions of a real confrontation with flesh-and-blood criminals, violent, dangerous, ruthless, and possibly drug-addled criminals hell-bent on doing whatever they need to do to advance their ends.

It’s not that criminals can’t and aren’t stopped by good people with guns, and good people who don’t undertake the kind of rigorous, daily training to which I’m referring. Ninety-five percent of all exchanges of gunfire occur within 15 feet, and of this number, 90 percent of those exchanges transpire within nine feet. When it is considered that over 90 percent of people shot with a handgun survive, the prescription offered here—to train so as to maximize one’s chances of achieving victory over the enemy—is that much more sensible.

And, to repeat, one is best positioned to incapacitate determined attackers by training one’s whole self to become a lethal weapon.

We can begin implementing a solution this minute by taking ownership of our own well-being, our own self-empowerment.

We can begin training, strengthening our bodies, minds, and spirits to become our own heroes, our own first responders, our own bodyguards, our own . . . warriors. In the last analysis, we are the protectors of ourselves and their families. 

If any of this sounds strange or unrealistic, if this prescription sounds like no solution at all, then this only shows just how dependent upon others, upon government, the solution-seekers have become.

About Jack Kerwick

Jack Kerwick earned his doctorate degree in philosophy from Temple University. His areas of specialization are ethics and political philosophy, with a particular interest in classical conservatism. His work has appeared in both scholarly journals and popular publications, and he recently authored, The American Offensive: Dispatches from the Front. Kerwick has been teaching philosophy for nearly 17 years at a variety of institutions, from Baylor to Temple, Penn State University, the College of New Jersey and elsewhere. His next book, Misguided Guardians: The Conservative Case Against Neoconservatism is pending publication. He is currently an instructor of philosophy at Rowan College at Burlington County.

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