National politics has robbed us of our selves.
State and federal security officials are reportedly bracing for armed demonstrations in all 50 states next week. Measures include layered fencing and secure areas, deployment of tactical teams, and designation of a “national special security event.”
We appear on the verge of literal Balkanization, a Yugoslavia-style social breakdown. Two stories demonstrate how we got to this awful place.
The first person to die by violence in the Capitol riots was Ashlii Babbitt, an Air Force veteran who’d served in two wars and now worked at a San Diego-area pool supply company. She was part of the huge crowd that poured over outer gates like a flood tide only to be stopped by a locked entrance to the Speaker’s Hall. Dressed in snow boots and a red, white, and blue Trump flag she wore as a cape, Babbitt appeared to be trying to break through when a Capitol guard shot her in the neck:
The video of her shooting is hard to watch. Almost as disturbing is footage of her state of mind in the preceding period. Here she’s ranting while driving in late 2018:
Babbitt’s tirade is directed at everyone from Democratic pols Maxine Waters and Gavin Newsom to Republican Duncan Hunter (she seems unaware Hunter was convicted for conspiracy to steal campaign funds last March). She can barely speak. The rage is spilling out ahead of her thoughts.
The specifics of Babbitt’s politics have been analyzed to death, but focusing more on the obvious, this was a deeply unhappy woman. Her self seems to have been consumed by enraging obsessions even before her physical life was lost. Politics became so central to her identity that she couldn’t sideline it even temporarily, even out of self-interest.
On the front door of Fowlers Pool Service and Supply, the company she’d bought and kept afloat for a time with a short-term loan that she claimed ended up costing her 169% interest, Babbitt put up a poster declaring her business to be a “Mask-Free Autonomous Zone, Better Known as America”:
The text of that poster is worth quoting in full:
Through these doors, the only thing that should be touching your lips is an ice-cold beer or some pizza, a burrito, a burger, or maybe some donuts! We shake hands like men, fist bump like homies, we smile, laugh and shout and have a damn good time!
If you need to wear a mask outside, I’m not sure we can help you, but we will pray for you, because we believe in God! Know this, this is our autonomous zone, we love our zone & you need to respect our zone because we will defend our zone. Tyranny, lawlessness, disrespect and hate for your fellow man will not be tolerated. We are all God’s children, live free or you aren’t living at all. Brought to you by God-loving, America-loving, common-sense patriots!
Translated: “The people within find such easy contentment in beer and donuts, they’re ready to defend with force if you disrespect their happy place by stepping inside with a mask.” Weird enough on the door of a home, but what person deep in a hole with a predatory lender puts that on the front door of a business?
Most of us know someone, or a lot of someones, whose personalities have been subsumed by national politics.
This is an excerpt from today’s subscriber-only post. To read the entire post and get full access to the archives, you can subscribe for $5 a month or $50 a year.