I went to a class yesterday that was part rifle marksmanship and part Revolutionary War history, and we spent about eight hours lying on our bellies in very cold mud (and it's always a good way to remind yourself of what soldiers sacrifice to go home afterward and take a hot shower and realize how lucky you are), and it was pretty fun for the most part.
But the instructors gave a big speech at the end about how America was in trouble and the government wasn't going to save America, the educational system wasn't going to save America, it was up to people like us to save America.
...Save America from what?
My friend whispered "the blacks and the gays," and I hope she wasn't right. I'm guessing it's maybe a little of that (and the feminists, and the immigrants, and the liberals, and the atheists, and the Je... "Hollywood and finance types," and whatnot), but a lot more of the idea that the government is intolerably oppressive, and just some free-floating feeling that things are getting worse all the time.
Which I don't share. I know I have a Pollyanna streak, but I don't see America as a nation in distress. We have plenty of problems, yes, but this is still basically an amazing place. We have more liberties than anywhere else in the First World and more privileges than anywhere that isn't First World. And I certainly believe in defending those liberties but I don't believe that they're going down the drain that fast.
In a weird way, the "oh no America is in ruins" rhetoric reminds me of paranoid Christians talking about the evil of "the world" or paranoid feminists talking about how patriarchy is eeeeeverrrywhere. There's a certain mindset that sees the outside world as degraded (and themselves glorified by contrast), and I want nothing to do with that mindset.
Maybe my context is a little different because I'm Jewish, and I've heard my grandmother's stories about what it's like when they really take your rights away, and to hear her tell it, it's not some subtle thing you'd have to read just the right blogs to know about. Taxation may be "holding your grandmother at gunpoint," but buddy, my grandmother's been held at gunpoint.
That's a nation in distress. And frankly that's the only political reason I'm learning to shoot. Because as long as guns, and the knowledge of how to use them, are distributed among the people, it'll be a lot harder to run a Holocaust. Nobody--not the government, not another government, not a group of crazy people of any stripe--will have an easy time taking over a country where any citizen has the power to fight back. If there was a war on our soil, the doorstep of every armed household would be its own front line.
But don't go telling me that because they passed a healthcare bill and you had to pay taxes and there were some scary blog posts that the war is on now. This is a great nation--right now, as it is, this is a wonderful place and if you think this is distress you've never seen distress. If you think that there's cause to take up arms right now, well--frankly, buddy, you're part of the reason I have guns.
I believe in readiness, but not paranoia. I am prepared for threats, but I'm reasonable enough to know when there really aren't that many and I'm free to live my life. My gun is by my bed, but it's not in my hand.