Sharron Angle is on the run -- from herself.
The question is why. Angle soundly defeated better-funded candidates in Nevada's recent GOP Senate primary by espousing views that earned the support of the Tea Party movement. She gave the fed-up conservative faithful what it wanted: a striking contrast to the Democratic incumbent, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
But something strange has happened since that come-from-behind victory: Angle has sought to distance herself from some of her more provocative statements, and she's avoided talking with the mainstream media.
Presumably, she doesn't want to be faced with having to defend the extreme views she's expressed over the years. But how must her supporters feel when they see that she's repudiating or downplaying the very things they liked about her in the first place?
Angle, it appears, has fallen under the sway of Beltway political experts, who fear that her positions will be perceived as the rantings of a wild-eyed radical. But aren't Angle's supporters just as disgusted by mainstream Republicans as they are by the loathsome Democrats? Surely turning Angle into a run-of-the-mill conservative won't sit well with the "Don't Tread on Me" crowd.
Let's look at a few of Angle's positions and see where the pitfalls might lie:
Phase out Social Security. Social Security is a form of welfare, according to Angle, and conservatives despise welfare. Plus, Social Security represents a huge chunk of the federal budget. If you eliminate Social Security, you could cut the federal budget in half!
The political problem with this view is that many of Angle's supporters receive Social Security benefits, and a good number of them rely on Social Security to help them pay the rent, buy food and keep the lights on. There's also that pesky fact that most Social Security recipients have paid into the system for decades in order to earn the benefits.
That said, Angle shouldn't retreat. After all, Social Security is a socialist program. Karl Marx would be proud of what the United States has accomplished in terms of taking care of its elderly citizens. You can see why Angle would want to get rid of it. The elderly have other options. They could continue working. Most companies don't offer traditional pension plans anymore, so many seniors can't rely on a monthly check, but maybe they were wise enough to save a nest egg for their golden years. If that wasn't possible, though, they could always move in with their kids. Worst case, they could seek charitable aid, perhaps move into a homeless shelter funded by private donations.
Make alcohol illegal. A couple of years ago, in an interview with a conservative magazine, Angle said alcohol should be prohibited because it's just as destructive as illegal drugs. She is correct again. Alcoholism and drunken driving are major killers. Statistically, alcohol causes just as many problems as heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine, so why is it all right to imbibe, but not to inject? Hypocrisy!
The political pitfall is that a fair number of Angle's supporters enjoy a drink every so often, perhaps more than every so often. Takes the edge off, you know?
Also, there's the fact that we tried outlawing alcohol one time before, and it didn't work out too well. In 1919, the do-gooders passed a constitutional amendment outlawing alcohol, but lots of Americans had trouble abiding by this edict. Bootlegging proliferated and speakeasies sprung up everywhere. So in 1933, we gave up the Noble Experiment and made alcohol legal again.
Angle, though, should stay the course. Alcohol is bad medicine. Surely we'd all be a lot better off if we couldn't get a taste of the stuff. Temperance now!
"Second Amendment remedies" might be necessary to get the country back on track. Angle has not fully explained what she means by "Second Amendment remedies," but it's clear enough to most of us, isn't it?
Suggesting violence as a means of political action might seem a little extreme to the mainstream media, but Angle is simply reflecting the frustration of her supporters. Since the right wing can't muster enough votes in elections to take control of the country, other "remedies" might be needed to derail the "tyrannical government."
The political problem with advocating armed rebellion is that some nut actually could follow through on this threat. Innocent people could get killed, which is what happened in Oklahoma City a few years back. But Angle shouldn't worry about such things. In times of crisis, extraordinary measures could be needed to prevent further destruction of our beloved country.
In conclusion, I offer some timeless words of wisdom to Ms. Angle: Be true to yourself. Stand up for what you believe in. Those "moderates" your new political handlers want to appeal to? Forget about 'em. They're just less-ambitious socialists.
Say it loud and say it proud, Ms. Angle: I'm a lunatic, and I'm not afraid to let the world know it!
Geoff Schumacher (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the Review-Journal's director of community publications. His column appears Friday.