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Today my head was designated a “Sanctuary Head” and I got a haircut as a form of civil disobedience

Today I got my hair cut in an establishment here in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. Our county opened today by a patriotic act of the county commissioners, Jeff Haste and Mike Pries, who are looking out for their citizens (see Jeff Haste’s letter to the citizens of Pennsylvania here).

My haircut stands as a symbol of #resistance to petty tyrant Governor Tom Wolf’s power-mad attempt to control free Pennsylvanians.

I also did this act of defiance under the totally illegal but patriotic self-designation of my head as a “Barbershop Sanctuary Head.”

While this act of civil disobedience happened in an actual barbershop and salon, the hair cutter informed me that she has been doing hair coloring and haircuts at private homes over the past month, wearing PPE and a mask as the client requires. I was her first “in-patient” at the establishment. Yes, like the free adults they are, people have been deciding for themselves what level of risk they are willing to engage in order to look presentable in public. Without Governor Wolf and his creature doctor telling us what to think, what to do.

Recall that Pennsylvania is under a draconian “lockdown order” issued by the governor. Basically you can’t go pee without the government telling you to go.

In response to Dauphin County opening up, petty tyrant Governor Tom Wolf went on a tantrum tirade of threats: Businesses that open without his OK will have their state licenses pulled, and insurance companies will be notified or damaged, and federal aid will be withheld, and so on.

If you don’t listen to Tyrant Wolf, he will do everything he can to harm you, much more than the virus ever could. Governor Wolf demands that you listen to him and obey him! His threats over compliance are arguably worse than the risks he says we incur by not following his dictates. Wolf has gone overboard after already going overboard. The guy is drunk on power.

Governor Wolf is like all of the other liberal governors in America right now: Might makes right, the full coercive force of government will be brought down on the now-shorn head of anyone who dares to challenge him, you will be punished for daring to act like a free person. None of this covid19 policy stuff is about public health any longer. It is purely about power, and a rather unconstitutional, un-American power at that.

Petty tyrants like Tom Wolf just don’t realize what stuff Americans are made of. He doesn’t realize he inspired me to do this. I pulled a liberal trick out of my hat, and by unilaterally declaring my head to be a Barbershop Sanctuary Head, I have automatically blocked government from doing anything to my head. Because, you know, for years sanctuary cities and states have been releasing from jail all violent illegal alien felons, but recently locking up law-abiding citizens out for a walk while again releasing yet more violent felons from prison, because of covid19. It all made so much sense…

So now my own sanctuary head is off-limits to Governor Tom Wolf. I am sure he will understand.

Two months of hair growth on my head resulted in a pile of wool-like sheep-shearings. Sad that this pile of hair is now an act of defiance, resistance, and civil disobedience in America.

 

 

 

Rural & Urban People Experience the Virus Differently

Rural and urban people are experiencing the covid19 CCP virus differently. And this means they each experience the various governors’ approaches to it differently, too. Chinese Flu policies impact rural and urban people differently.

In rural America, like Clinton County and Lycoming County here in Pennsylvania, life is still pretty much going on, not quite like normal, but fairly close to normal. The perceived risk from Wuhan covid19 Flu is low. This is because the rural peoples’ observations are not squaring up with what they are being told from their state capital. Rural people are not seeing up close and personal the disruptive chaos and death that is so pervasive in places like New York City and Philadelphia. So their behavior is different.

For weeks the Lowes in Mill Hall, PA, has been standing-room-only parking on the weekends, as local people shop for gardening supplies. Likewise the other nearby big box stores and small hardware stores are also full of people attending to their needs. Life is going on, albeit with some face masks and people clearly trying to steer clear of one another in shopping aisles. The Wegmans in Williamsport, PA, was full of shoppers the last time I was there, and the shelves were mostly well stocked. Notes about limits per customer are placed in all the usual places – TP, canned tuna, milk, bread. Ladies at the checkout are quite tough and firm about shoppers abiding by these limits, and everyone seems to be getting along just fine.

Elsewhere in rural PA are drive-in church services, food takeout, maybe some bonfires with chairs set apart, but still lots of chairs, nonetheless.

Actual Risk vs. Perceived Risk vs. Government Policy

At the heart of this lifestyle difference between rural and urban people is the difference they have over perceived risk, actual risk, and what the government policy says.

When rural people look around and see none of the catastrophic chaos engulfing New York City, they begin to ask simple and necessary questions about the actual risk of the China Flu to them. The actual risk, not the suggested hype or irrational fear stay-the-f#k-at-home perceived risk that is being breathlessly communicated by the cable outlets every minute. Without bodies stacked high, without lots of people becoming obviously sick from the CCP Chinese Flu, and with local health providers like hospitals and clinics operating as normal, rural people begin to question the value and necessity of the government policy that tells them their Constitutional rights must be suspended.

They then begin to question the value and purpose of their own government.

When we hear about the over-reach in places like Kentucky and Michigan, whose governors are literally demanding that people cower in their homes or else face huge overwhelming coercive force and jail time, it is natural for Americans to ask not just what is the value of these policies, but why can’t we have real policies that are tailored to the realities that each community faces. The potential risks of Wuhan Flu are just not the same everywhere.

Rural areas have more room and space between people, fewer people, less congestion, and a lot lot lot less exposure AND a lot less actual risk. Government policies need to reflect these realities. Blanket one-size-does-not-fit-all policies serve no real health purpose. Instead, no matter how well intentioned the governor may be, these blanket policies that are the same in Philadelphia as they are in Lock Haven, PA, make everyone equally miserable, damage all businesses equally, regardless of the health outcomes.

At the end of the day, government action must both balance risks with costs and benefits, while also safeguarding the citizenry’s sacred Constitutional rights. To date, very few states have done this. Instead, almost every state has treated low-risk rural areas the same as high-risk congested urban areas, and hit them all with the same heavy hammer. This makes the whole covid19 reaction thing seem awfully fishy.

Rush Limbaugh

The other day I was driving up I-95 though New Jersey, destination Manhattan, listening to Rush Limbaugh on the radio. The usual analysis of recent events – Nanshee Peloshee’s failed political attack on the American president, the Democrat Party’s disarray of socialist presidential candidates, each trying harder than the other to give away more American taxpayer money to buy votes than the other, the SuperBowl result.

And Rush’s voice was gravelly, something new. Over the past year he has been complaining about having a cold, or a hairball, or whatever stuck in his throat. And over the past year he has taken off more time than usual. Usually that kind of time away indicates a change, usually due to burnout. But Rush would return to the golden EIB microphone and pick right up where he left off, with great energy and clarity. So no, his absences were not attributable to doing the same damned job over three decades.

And then, nearly at the end of the three-hour show, matter-of-factly Rush simply stated that he has been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, which later on was disclosed to be stage four, which is highly advanced.

Now if there is one symbol of this iconic man’s persona, it is his cigar. Limbaugh enjoys a cigar, and has posed with cigars on the covers of magazines. Promoting, much less admitting to using tobacco these days is the ultimate rebellion, the strongest anti-political correctness statement one can make. Let’s just say, waving a lit cigar about in one’s hand these days gets a lot more attention and dis-approbation than a hairy man putting on scanty lady’s clothes and accoutrements and wobbling up and down a public street in high heels.

Limbaugh has used his cigars as the ultimate rejection of PC nanny state over-reach, to the point where he occasionally almost sounded flippant about the potential health risks.

And while tobacco can and should be enjoyed occasionally – a pipe with a bowlful of cherry Cavendish, a cigarillo, a Dutch Masters or Swisher Sweets mini-cigar, its constant use is anything but innocent. Because the constant use of tobacco products really does damage the human body. Nothing new here to science or human knowledge.

So while Limbaugh may have shared one thing in common with president Bill Clinton, the non-inhalation of lit smoking products, the fact is that cigars put off a huge amount of smoke that, unless one is outside or in a highly ventilated indoor space, is going to certainly invade one’s lungs. Apparently Rush’s lungs were invaded by copious amounts of heavy cigar smoke, despite his not inhaling.

Last night at the State of the Union speech by President Donald J. Trump, Rush Limbaugh received the Medal of Freedom from the hands of First Lady Melania Trump. Rush was obviously surprised that it occurred there and then, and his humility and emotion shone through like a giant airport beacon.

People who hold leftist views may disagree with or even hate Rush Limbaugh. But the level and pitch of their opposition to him is an equal representation of his effectiveness over the years. The first time I heard Rush Limbaugh on the radio was in my friend Kenny Gould’s car in Rockville, Maryland, in the spring of 1991.

“You gotta hear this guy, Josh. You gotta hear what he says. He’s amazing. He is so right. You should hear what he says about Bill Clinton; no one else in the media is saying it.”

And so Kenny turned on the AM radio to the Rush Limbaugh program, and I dutifully listened to what at first sounded like a chatterbox man talking and talking about political and cultural issues.

At the time I had started my first fully professional full time job as a policy staffer at the US EPA in Washington, DC. I disagreed with some of what Rush said that day, but I never forgot him. And years later, when I had discarded my anti-taxpayer job at the EPA like a piece of dog crap stuck to my shoe, because of my own observations and experiences, I had begun to understand just what this big voice on the radio was talking about.

And so tens of millions of other Americans have been educated and trained to think critically and analytically by Rush Limbaugh since that time, and as a result, he has had a tremendously out-size good effect on America.

First Lady Melania Trump placing the Presidential Medal of Freedom around Rush Limbaugh’s neck

More humility than some people might expect caused Rush to compose himself

Good luck to you, Mister Limbaugh. May you have a complete and easy recovery from your cancer. Please don’t be one of those guys puffing away through clouds of cigar smoke with the oxygen line stuck in your nostrils. That just will not do as a lasting image to your greatness. (…and to those who would never listen to Rush’s radio show, how can you say you disagree with him if you do not listen to what he says?…and to those who have openly rejoiced at Limbaugh’s health, you are exactly why he has needed a radio show in the first place, and why America listens to him)

Ooh-ooh, that smell

Dedicated readers of this site might wonder why we are not commenting about the lameness of a political party that filibusters everything in the US Senate, used “the nuclear option” themselves to advance the most radical and extreme federal judges and political appointees from 2010 to 2015, but which now is screaming bloody murder that the other political party followed their lead, did exactly what they did with the Senate rules, and allowed a simple majority vote to confirm the next US Supreme Court justice (Gorsuch) yesterday.

Why would a normal, healthy person spend time on that issue? It is obviously quite insane. One political party is dominated by people with an agenda that does not fit in with America’s political model. Would you normal people please stop supporting the Democrat Party, until its leadership is replaced with normal, mainstream Americans?

Instead, this essay here takes a line from a Lynyrd Skynyrd song about drug abuse, “Oooh-ooh that smell.”

This is about a daily personal health issue that seems to be unknown and unaddressed, despite having a real effect on Americans across the country. If you care about your health, read on.

We Americans are so addicted to cheap Chinese junk (tools, food, clothing, furniture, shoes, tires) that we shop ever more in big box stores filled to the brim with that cheap Chinese junk.  Or buy from Amazon, which imports from China by the shipful.

And when you enter the doorway of these big box stores, you are confronted with an odd, sickly sweet smell associated with the vast majority of Chinese manufacturing: Formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde is used to pickle human remains for wakes and open casket funerals. It is used to stash scientific specimens in glass containers, so they will not rot, so they can be viewed and studied.

Formaldehyde is dangerous, toxic, and both acutely and chronically dangerous. And yet Americans work around hugely elevated amounts of formaldehyde in these ubiquitous big box stores, and Americans shop daily in these same places, all blissfully unaware that they are inhaling a significant amount of nasty chemical.

The formaldehyde you smell in the store is off-gassing from the consumer items sitting in cardboard boxes on the store shelves. This chemical permeates everything made in China, and there is so much of it that for years it keeps leaking out of the plastics, fabrics, and woods sent here, which we then put in our homes and garages as furniture and tools.

You are worried about ambient cigarette smoke? Cut us a break! Exposure to air-borne formaldehyde in these amounts is far worse for the human body, far riskier than the occasional cigarette, as is standing on a street corner in down town Manhattan, waiting for a street light to change, for that matter, because of all the ozone, particulates, and sulfur/ carbon dioxide/monoxide smog.

But nothing is being done about ambient formaldehyde risk, because it is associated with too much money and economic activity. And it is invisible, except to the nose.

There are no sexy prohibitionist crusades about ambient formaldehyde like there is with tobacco use (an upcoming subject here).  And yet take a good whiff the next time you go to a big box store. That weird sickly sweet smell is formaldehyde. Your lungs are getting a free embalming when you enter.

Note: If we bought American products, made in USA facilities where formaldehyde is not allowed to be used, then we would not be exposed to it when we went shopping. But we are like drug addicts, addicted to cheap Chinese junk, to our own detriment.

Friends in low places

Several years ago several ambitious construction projects were begun, where the building material would come from our own oak trees on our property. Oak may not be the best or easiest building wood, because when it dries it is heavy and as hard as iron, and thus tough on tools and shoulders alike, but it is what we have there.

So oaks were cut, skidded, piled, and then milled in situ over about a five year period. An injury and subsequent surgery prevented me from continuing this remote effort, which then moved forward in fits and starts over several years. When we finally got around to completing the actual projects, much of that beautiful oak had been sitting out for a long time, and in some cases too long. After using up much of that oak lumber, a large amount yet remained in piles, where it had air dried.

Last week was my final drive to get under roof thousands of board feet of two-inch-thick oak boards, heavy beams, and smaller posts, before they started to rot. It was a lot of work. The unusual heat and blazing sun made the work go slower. One thing that surprised me was the absence of mice living in these outdoor piles. Normally mice run and scurry as the wood is moved, having nested among the boards in perfect little hidey holes.

The last pile of drying lumber was finally put away, with just a few boards remaining at the very end, butted up against a huge boulder that makes up part of a stone wall around the yard. As I dismounted the tractor, stepped over to the board ends, and reached down to grab them, a sound caught my attention.

It was a sound that set off primitive alarm bells in my brain.

At first it sounded like a cricket, and then a grasshopper, and then a second later my mind concluded it was a timber rattlesnake. After stepping back, well, let’s say it was an inelegant, well, ugly (it’s a big fat man jumping, after all) leap, minus my usual little girl scream that seems to accompany most of my unplanned and close-up rattlesnake encounters, I looked down.

A long black snake with a yellow diamond pattern was stretched out next to the boulder, about six inches from where my boot heel had settled moments before. The long grass against the boulder had concealed the snake from my eyes, which, frankly, had not looked there, but had rather been focused on the heavy boards, and how I was going to pick them up and manhandle them to their destination across the yard.

The snake’s angular head and erect tail with rattles confirmed it as a timber rattlesnake.

While it was not a huge male rattler, the likes of which I have caught and moved to safety off of roads and trails a number of times since I was a kid, it was nonetheless big enough to permanently remove a chunk of leg muscle. So I admired it for a minute, and then went on to other work elsewhere. When I returned an hour later, it was gone, though I thought I could see it coiled up right under the boulder’s edge. Instead of reaching down with my hands, I used the pallet forks on the tractor to pull out those last boards.

Over the course of the next two days, my mind kept replaying the encounter. In July 2001, when we had owned the property for seven months, DCNR forester Jim Hyland and I had scoured our property, as well as the adjoining State Forest and part of the adjoining private land, looking for rattlesnakes. That day we found a corn snake, a garter snake, a ring neck snake, and two green snakes. No sign of rattlesnakes among the rock and old slate quarries up high. Not even a shed skin.

So for sixteen years we had enjoyed our property without being mindful of rattlers. Our children had been born and raised around the cabin, running freely around the property. Sure, I spent a lot of time in our woods, a certified Tree Farm, and I have always been on the lookout for rattlesnakes, as well as other snakes, but I had seen few snakes at all, and never a rattler.

Snakes are awesome, they are awesomely cool creatures. I bear them no animosity whatsoever. In high school and college a pet boa constrictor kept me company, until she had grown so large that she was regularly breaking out of her cage and hunting our house cats. When I last saw her, she filled up one side of the man’s living room, and he regularly fed her rabbits and squirrels he trapped in his yard. She weighed about 150 pounds then, and was ten years old. I hugged her, but she just laid there, limp and dozing. Snakes…what can you do? Love em the best ya can.

And so now I am confronted with the fact that a potentially dangerous animal shares our camp with us. All around us we have seen rattlesnakes over the years, mostly run over by cars down on the highway, and increasingly I see them all over central and Northcentral Pennsylvania while cruising timber and looking at land. At some point I did expect them to join us as tenants of one sort at the cabin. Under the front porch is where I thought they would first show up, because it’s good cover and the mice like it there. Struggling emotionally to adjust to this new arrangement has not been painful, but it has been harder than I thought it would be.

The absence of mice under the wood piles reminded me why I accept and even welcome the presence of timber rattlesnakes, intellectually if not emotionally. Mice are a major pest, and they are destructive little bastards. Hearing them chirp and run inside the walls of the cabin at night, right next to my bed, is a source of aggravation. When they eat porch and barn furniture for nesting material, it is infuriating. They pee everywhere, and it stinks. We regularly trap them around the buildings and poison them inside the barn. Help reducing their numbers is most welcome, and anyone or anything that helps achieve that goal is a friend of mine.

Timber rattlers are beautiful to look at, and they are normally pretty docile, requiring a lot of pestering and rough handling to elicit a strike. But like all wild animals they are unpredictable, and the risk they pose to little kids playing outside is significant. Fortunately, our kids have reached ages where they can think carefully for themselves, consciously avoiding areas where rattlers would naturally congregate. And we now infrequently host families with little kids as guests, as most of our friends have kids the same ages as our own children, able to take guidance, if they are with their parents at all.

So the risks versus the benefits works out in our favor. The benefits of rattlers sharing our property are high, because they eat the hell out of mice. Rattlesnakes are my new friends, in low places, where they are needed most.

Welcome, friends.

 

The power of Dad

Call me patriarchal, but the power of “Dad” still awes me, as it has so deeply shaped all human cultures from our beginning.

At his best, Dad is provider, protector, guardian, best friend, guide, advisor, partner….Someone a boy looks up to all his life, wants to emulate, and shares his intimate life struggles with.

Dad is that one person you can always count on, no matter what. It’s a pretty potent symbol and subject. Everyone loves “Dad.”

Fatherhood is so powerful that it can be used to hurt, too, and some father figures don’t seem to recognize their own strength. Or worse, they revel in their ability to punish, or hurt, though that seems to be a dying breed these days.

Today in America, we celebrate the happy and hard working Dads out there who have busted their butts, hoed tough rows, sacrificed and taken risks for their families.

Heck, we see these Hollywood superhero movies and it’s impossible not to laugh. Reality is a lot more compelling!

Just getting our kids off to school on time in clean clothes with all their books and pencils is a real feat. Paying the bills? Now THAT is true hero stuff. It’s not easy. Parents and dads who pull that off are the real heroes, because without them, the wheels come off.

Here’s to the dads- three cheers.

Memorial Day, aka Thank You Day

How Americans came to take their success and security for granted is a mystery. It is also dangerous, because much was lost to gain what we now are giving away for free, as if it is ours to give away at all.

Our security belongs to future citizens.

Are so many of our citizens really eyeballs deep in TV entertainment, to the point where they ignore the real problems around us?

All of the happiness, wealth, success, security we enjoy are attributable to mostly men who risked and sacrificed their lives and limbs that the rest of us can BBQ in the back yard in peace.

Obama’s apology to Japan for the US winning the brutal war that Japan started is representative of the weak and shallow thinking dominant in America today. It passes for “thoughtful,” but it is disrespectful to our servicemen who sacrificed for us.

On Monday, Americans officially remember the many men, and a few women, who gave everything so that our daily lives can be enjoyed peacefully. I thank you, each and every one of you, for what you did for me and my family.

This weekend is devoted to those departed and wounded servicemen.

In their honor, fly the flag, or salute it, or have your family say the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag as part of our collective remembrance and thanks. These are tokens of respect and appreciation.

Thank you, dear departed

Memorial Day is a big deal in a Republic like America. Without the sacrifices and daily risks of our armed service personnel, America wouldn’t exist. Our daily freedoms and liberties would be replaced by fear of an all-encompassing government.

Thank you, dear departed.

Medical cannabis – the time is now

Medical cannabis is the active ingredient from the marijuana plant, used in a responsible way for strictly medical purposes, like treating severe pain and seizures.

Presently the well-earned stigma of “weed” prevents medical cannabis from being used as an alternative to addictive, dangerous drugs from barbiturates and opiates.

Prescription pain killers are becoming a huge menace to American society, not just because of the addictions and ruined lives following in their wake, but because of the car accidents and violence that result from their over-use and misuse.

It is now time to allow medical forms of cannabis – NOT pot/weed/ dope/ hash/ MaryJane – to be used on a strictly controlled medical basis for pain relief and controlling seizures.

The risks of medical cannabis are known to be very low, the side effects are low, while the benefits are known to be very high.  When compared to the high risks, high side-effects of current prescription painkillers, medical cannabis looks positively like a miracle wonder drug.

Anyone with a shred of compassion for others in pain wants to give them safe ways to treat their affliction.

So, what the heck is the wait?

Let’s pass Senate Bill 3 and give our fellow Pennsylvanians the medical relief they need and deserve.

And no, I am not talking about legalizing the recreational use of marijuana leaf.  Recently a supporter asked me my position on this subject, and I believe it is a generational thing, with younger people more comfortable with recreational use of marijuana than us older folks.  Growing up in the late 1960s and 1970s, I saw marijuana used and abused recreationally, and while it may not have the negative side effects of alcohol or hard drugs, it still is not a great thing to have legally at hand.

America needs fewer recreational drugs, not more, but medical cannabis is not a recreational drug, and even if it were considered a drug, it would displace many much stronger, truly dangerous drugs.  Its time has arrived.

 

Risk & Sacrifice separate grass roots activists from insulated party professionals

In 2009, like many other citizens shocked at the sudden, dramatic changes and corruption re-shaping America, I greatly increased my political activity.

Part of a grass-roots wave of citizen activists that year, I ran in a four-way US Congressional primary.  It’s a long story, and in short I ended up liking one of my opponents so much I hoped he would win.  Along the way, several people closely affiliated with the Republican Party tried to dissuade me from running, assuring me that a certain sitting state senator would beat the incumbent Democrat, congressman Tim Holden.

Our campaign still netted about 25% of the vote in a four-way race, which is solid performance, especially considering that one of the candidates had run before, one was a sitting state senator, one was a well-known political activist, and we had gotten a late start and spent little money.

In the general election, Holden crushed the Republican state senator who won that primary race by 400 votes.

Fast forward to January 2012, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejects a new, heavily gerrymandered Republican redistricting plan.  At the heart of the court’s decision was the “egregious” and grossly unnatural shape of the 15th state senate district, where I happened to then reside, and still do now, too.

The PA Supreme Court called the new district “the iron cross,” and indeed it looked like a cross shape and was iron clad against upstart citizens asserting themselves in political races reserved for establishment members only.

(My current congressional district is the same, with only about ten blocks of Harrisburg City included in what is otherwise a large, rural district reaching the Maryland state line. Guess who lives in that ten-block area. Yes. Me. )

Given my previous public interest in running for the 15th senate seat, it was obvious that excluding our family’s home from that district was purposeful: It was an attempt by political bosses to artificially silence and thwart an otherwise good candidate who does not see his job as serving political bosses.

The court’s ruling allowed a handful of us to wage a tremendous grass roots 11th hour campaign for that senate seat, getting our start two days into the three-week ballot petition process.

Although we did not win, we did give the political bosses a hell of a challenge by winning a huge number of votes with only pennies spent.

A year later, York businessman Scott Wagner beat those same political bosses for his state senate seat, in a historic write-in campaign against a million dollars of party money. The race, and its remarkable result, drew national attention.  Clearly the voters responded to Wagner’s grass roots campaign in the face of a party juggernaut.

This evening I spent some time speaking with an NRA staffer.  We met at the Great American Outdoor Show, which is the former Eastern Outdoors Show and now NRA-run at the PA Farm Show complex, and he gave me an opportunity to vent a bit and explain my frustration with the NRA.

To wit: An increasing number of grass roots activists now perceive the NRA as merely an arm of the Republican Party establishment political bosses.  The same bosses who oppose conservative/ independent candidates like me and Wagner.

See, back in 2012, I was the only NRA member in that three-way primary race (to be fair, one candidate had been an NRA member for several months, which could never, ever be construed as a political move, even though he was the candidate selected by the same political bosses who created a safe district for him to run in), but the NRA refused to get involved.

If there was any endorsement that was deserved in that race, it would have been the NRA endorsing their one and only member, and a decades-long member at that – Me. (Firearm Owners Against Crime did endorse the one pro-Second Amendment candidate, thank you very much, Kim Stolfer)

And then tonight it dawned on me on the way home from the Farm Show complex…two basic but defining experiences separate grass roots activists and candidates from the party establishment: Risk taking and making sacrifices.

By definition, grass roots candidates take many risks and make many sacrifices, both of which are seen as signs of weakness by the establishment.

Self-starters motivated by principle and passion for good government, the grass roots candidates and activists have to reach into their own pockets to get any traction, and they often risk their jobs and businesses in challenging the establishment power structure.  To get invitations to events, they have to reach out and ask, knock on doors, make phone calls.  They have to cobble together campaigns made of volunteers and pennies, and they usually are grossly under-funded now matter how successful they are.

On the other hand, party establishment candidates have the ready-made party machine in their sails from the get-go.  Money, experienced volunteers, paid staffers, refined walking lists, the establishment can muster a tremendous force in a relatively short time.  Establishment candidates also enjoy artificial party endorsements (formal or informal) that give them access to huge pots of party campaign funds or a leg-up in other ways.

Establishment groups like NRA view grass roots candidates the same way as the party establishment views them- trouble makers.

In short, few if any establishment candidates put in their own money to drive their campaigns, take risks, or make sacrifices in their pursuit of elected office. Everything is done for them by other people.

So long as party establishment staff and officials and groups like NRA maintain this artificial lifestyle and view, this alternate reality, this disconnect between the grass roots voters and the party that needs their votes will continue and deepen.

So long as the voters see grass roots activists and candidates struggling against an unfair arrangement that is created solely for the preservation of political power and profit, they will continue to migrate away from the party and support people they can relate to the most.

An elder in my family once told me that taking risks and making sacrifices build character and lead to success, and although a 26-year career full of both risks and sacrifices has often left me wondering at the truth of that claim, I increasingly see it bearing out in electoral politics.

The voters are not dumb; they can see the pure American earnestness in their fellow citizen fighting City Hall.  They respect risk-taking and sacrifices made in the pursuit of saving America.  That is a strong character which no establishment candidate can or ever will have.

Those political parties and groups that ignore that strong American character do so at their own risk, because they will lose the supporters they need to be successful.