Hal Bidlack

Hal Bidlack

It would appear that newly declared Republican Senate candidate Ron Hanks is a big fan of 1999 cult movies. You may recall the film “Office Space” from that last year of the last millennium (Ed: technically, no, but I digress…) and how it mocked the boring and monotonous lives of several gentlemen stuck in office cubicles and hating their lives. One focus of their rage was the office copy machine. This evil machine regularly consumed the documents they wished copied, only to spit out shredded originals and blurry facsimilia. It was the copy machine from hell. It was a truly evil copy machine. 

Near the end of the movie, the protagonists liberate the machine from their office space (hey! I bet that’s where the movie title comes from!) and take it to an open field to, well, kill it. They beat the machine to pieces with a variety of weapons and soon the copy machine is no more.

If you watch Mr. Hanks’ campaign rollout video, you’ll see him, well, kill an office copier. It’s not entirely clear if the aforementioned movie directly inspired him, but in his video, after ranting on about a number of far-right dog whistles, he shoots an innocent copy machine, minding its own business sitting out in a field somewhere. He puts a fake “Dominion Voting Machine” sign on said copier. Hanks has a really big gun, and he fires a round and the machine explodes. I’m pretty sure that explosion was special effects, given that regular old bullets don’t tend to explode when they hit office machinery, but I digress…

In his video, he announces his self-proclaimed status as a “Trump Warrior” and notes his two main issues: election integrity and the Second Amendment. He brags about attending various fake recount events (though for some reason he forgets to mention his presence at the Jan. 6 insurrection) and suggests the election was stolen, the biggest of the Trump dog whistles, a claim that has been rebutted by every court and even by the staged Arizona sham recount that, when all was said and done, actually increased the margin by which Biden won the state.

Now my regular reader (Hi Jeff!) will recall that I’ve oft mused about guns and the fact that the Second Amendment was never designed to allow limitless weapons in the hands of any citizen. No sane person argues for the right of regular folks to own flame throwers, grenade launchers, or anti-aircraft missiles. Weaponized anthrax in the hands of your neighbors was not what the Founders had in mind when they argued for a well-regulated militia. So, we can put aside Hanks’ likely talking point that the liberals are coming after our guns, because they are not. And as an aside, I have an even bigger gun than Hanks shot off in that ad in my personal collection, a 75-caliber musket, but I digress…

Instead, let’s chat about his election claims. Hanks appears to be fully on board with the Trump big lie that the election was stolen. That’s dangerous nonsense, of course, given that fixing such an election would have required that thousands of Republican election officials would have had to go along with the fraud. Heck, Hanks got elected to the state legislature in the same “fixed” election and yet I don’t see him or any other GOPer elected in 2020 complaining that the elections they won were rigged. If the Dems were really going to steal the election, don’t you think it would have occurred to them to also pick up a few more House and Senate seats, to say nothing of state legislatures? Sigh…

People like Hanks (whom I thank for his military service) are asserting that election integrity is at stake. Well, in a way they are right. But they are the actual dangers to liberty. We have seen several efforts in red states to “fix” election issues by giving the state legislatures the power to overturn the election results in their states. 

Our elections are, in fact, at risk but only because one demagogue, for the first time in our nation’s history, announced that our system of elections was rigged. Please recall that in 2016, Trump made that same “rigged” claim, likely with the expectation he would lose. When he won, suddenly the 2016 election was OK, but 2020, that’s different somehow.

This attack is one our Founders didn’t really plan for. The efforts by the Trumpian GOP to reduce the right to vote and to limit turnout in blue areas is both shameful and dangerous, and they do so with people like Hanks waving flags and shouting slogans (and occasionally trying to violently overthrow the existing government, but I digress yet again…).

Hanks illustrates the key platform of the Trump GOP — run on anger, apathy, and amnesia. Hanks excoriates Biden for “surrendering in Afghanistan” while somehow forgetting that Biden was compelled to withdraw by an agreement signed by Trump. You may recall that Trump actually bragged about tying Biden’s hands regarding Afghanistan. That’s not to say Biden didn’t make mistakes, but Hanks and his ilk are relying on voters’ amnesia about what actually happened.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (my old boss) brings a certain dignity to the Senate. He is a quiet and softspoken man of great intelligence and deep compassion for those in need. I’ve seen those qualities up close. Contrast that, please, with a man who attended an insurrection and who thinks the best visual for his campaign is one of violence and exploding office equipment. I don’t imagine Mr. Hanks will get the GOP nomination, but the simple fact is that his two most pressing issues are built on lies. 

No one is coming for your guns and Biden won. 

Hal Bidlack is a retired professor of political science and a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who taught more than 17 years at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

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