BULLITT County, Ky. — Meet the voters at the bi-annual Knob Creek machine gun shoot: They can’t stand Democrats, are weary of Republicans and are still reserving judgment of the Tea Party – at best.
If ever there were a block of true “independents,” it’s the folks who came out to watch the all-American fireworks display. Their backgrounds were as varied as the guns that were shot, but there was a fairly consistent strain of thought: the country has forgotten about the Constitution.
“I’m a big constitutionalist supporter,” said Keith Mills of Maryland, who was selling army surplus gear at the shoot. “All the amendments make sense. The Second is second for a reason. The First Amendment is first for a reason.”
Mills said he “broke down” and voted for the Green Party candidate Ralph Nader – whom he hates — in the last election, because at least Nader offered an alternative to the current two-party system. In this year’s midterms, however, Mills is doing a 180. He said he likes what he’s hearing from Charlie Lollar, the libertarian Republican candidate running against Rep. Steny Hoyer, the Senate Majority Leader.
“There’s no difference between a Republican and a Democrat. In fact, I call them all ‘Republicrats.’ They’re the two wings of the same [corporation-run] party,” he said.
As for the Tea Party, Mills said they were just “doing the willing of a few rich people who don’t want show their face” and he admonished them for sticking to the same talking points that they so roundly condemned in Washington insiders.
Like Mills, Scott Slinkard of Illinois said the country needs to “turn to the constitution.” Slinkard is a retired Caterpillar salesman, 14-year veteran of the shoot and a member of the Southern Illinois Patriots League militia.
For Slinkard, the Republican candidate for Illinois governor, Bill Brady was “the only one talking constitutional issues.” Slinkard says he likes the way the Tea Party is shaking things up, but believes there are still a lot of unanswered questions.
“They can walk the walk, but can they talk the talk?” he asked. “I like the way they’re shaking things up, I really do, [but] I don’t like them affiliating themselves with the Republicans. … The Republicans don’t want to support some of their candidates. I just assume the Tea Party says, ‘Screw you, we’ll do it on our own.’”
When asked which candidates they were voting for, almost all the attendees at the machine gun shoot named Republicans. “I am right now,” said Jeff Lynes of Louisville. Lynes said he planned to vote for senatorial candidate Rand Paul and “vote out” Democrat Rep. Ben Chandler.
Yet most in the crowd seemed to have mixed feelings about their votes.
Texan Paul Hudik was running two booths at the machine gun shoot. In one booth, closest to the range, he and his family were selling firearms parts. In the second, they offered a quality selection of anti-Obama, “Democrats = Socialists” t-shirts.
Hudik expressed his views clearly and concisely – not surprising for a man in the bumper sticker business. “What you’re seeing,” he explained, “is people just getting tired of the crap. With Obama being elected you’ve seen an accelerated spending of the government that he can’t support and people are sick of it and finally getting away of it.”
Hudik wasn’t sure as to whether or not the Tea Party would return to “restoring the Constitution” but he liked what their appearance on the political stage offered.
“It’s all about choice, [and] not being shoveled in with the same old things. What do people normally vote for? They vote for the less of two evils,” he said.
Hudik described himself as extremely conservative and said he would be “looking at” Republican candidates. “But I don’t vote straight party,” he added.