Warning From a Junkie

On the night of Sunday, 21 March 2010—as so many addicts do—I relapsed.

Years ago, I swore I was done with the stuff forever. I even wrote books to help fellow addicts get control of their lives. I thought I was strong, healthy, beyond temptation. But there I was that night, craving it. Aching with the desire for one more fix. Instead of resisting, I gave in.

That is, I spent the evening surfing the ‘Net, jumping from CNN to FoxNews to Google to RealClearPolitics to Politico to the Huffington Post, from blog to blog to blog—taking every hit of news I could as the Democrats finally finagled their way to victory on health care.

Yes, I am a political junkie. I admit it.

And since I’m being brutally honest, I must confess that was my second relapse in a matter of months. Shortly before I spent that Sunday evening wallowing in the filth of backroom deals and crudely purchased votes, I secretly watched Scott Brown take “the Kennedy seat” from an overconfident Martha Coakley, giving Massachusetts its first Republican senator since dinosaurs roamed the earth.


It’s a typical addict’s life of highs and lows. One moment I’m soaring on the hallucination that one Republican will actually do something to restore reedom, the next I’m sunk into the bleak certainty that Democrats will bring about TEOTWAWKI—The End of the World As We Know It.

Here’s the truth, though. You and I both know—or should know—that both beliefs, the highs and the lows, are the mere fancies and phantasms of an addict. Illusions. Fever dreams of obsession.

I offer you one excuse for my behavior, and I offer myself one threadbare comfort: I was not alone that March night. Within days, dozens of “former” political addicts confessed to me that they, too, could not resist the drug of politics that fateful night, even though they knew what it was doing to them and their country. They were helpless against the lure of politics in their lives.

It was my mother’s fault, you know. She introduced me to the junk before I was even 12 years old. (Yes, yes, I know how shocking that is, but it’s true.) Like so many other pushers, she told me that registering voters, inventing political slogans, building parade floats for candidates, marching down the aislesat conventions, and even—eventually— voting would make me feel good.  Would change my life. Could even change the entire world.

She lied, she lied. But I trusted her.

And so I spent the next 30 years in a fog of addiction. I did it all, every degraded thing. I rang doorbells for candidates. I wrote campaign brochures. I donated money. I shamelessly advertised my addictions to the world by posting lawn signs. I spoke from podiums. For one brief, debased moment, I even chaired a statewide political party.

If I try to assuage my guilt and shame by telling you it was merely a minor third party, you’ll know I’m only making more excuses for myself. It’s what addicts do. The truth is, I was as hooked and debauched as any junkie could be.

But then, in 1994, I hit bottom. Some have heard the story before, so I’ll be brief. The Democrats were in power in those days. Presidency, Senate, U.S. House—they owned it all, just as they do now. And just as Obama and Pelosi have used their power to give trillions to Big Banking, Big Pharma and Big Insurance, the Clinton regime used its power to promote all manner of evil, but especially such evils as national ID, the deviously named “assault weapons” ban,


and the Dreaded Brady Bill with its de facto firearms registration.

On national ID, they had a struggle.  But on the assault weapons ban and the Brady monstrosity, they had their way with the nation. In the Brady matter, they were even helped by conniving Republican Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole. In a political maneuver worse than the “deem and pass” chicanery that Obama’s minions considered but rejected for their health care bill, Dole— who had 43 certain bipartisan votes against Brady (enough to filibuster against the bill, which in fact they had been successfully doing)—simply met with three cronies one dark night in November 1993, the night before Thanksgiving. And they “consented” for the Brady Bill to be passed “unanimously.”

So the nation and all its gun owners were saddled with Brady, thanks to Democrats George Mitchell and Al Gore (presiding, in his role as VP, over the secretive meeting of Senate leaders) and turncoat Republican Dole. Another Republican present that night, Mark Hatfield of Oregon, could have stopped Brady by raising a single objection. But he did not.

As a gun-rights activist, I should have seen the truth then—that neither party is any friend to liberty, the Constitution or firearms. That nothing but further suffering could be achieved by allying myself with either faction, or any form of politics. I should have known then to get out, to save myself from further degradation.

But there you see the mind-blinding effects of addiction. If the Democrats were primarily responsible for trying to take away our guns, then I—and millions of fellow political junkies—would turn to the Republicans. In our fevered, drugged state, it made perverse sense to us, despite the Dole and Hatfield betrayals.

And turn to the Republicans we did, that election year of 1994. We used all the power of our obsession to put them in control of both the House and Senate the next fall. There was one in particular I worked for. Contributed to. Cheered on. And even voted for. She won. And within a month of taking her seat in the U.S. House, she had betrayed every principle she ever claimed to stand for. The Republicans won a “revolution” that November.

But did the federal government get smaller? Did our taxes decrease? Did they immediately repeal all the antigun laws? Did they restore the Constitution to its rightful place above all other American laws?

Do you need to ask? They did not. In fact, they quickly set about helping Clinton with many of his evil plans, enthusiastically embracing various forms of citizen-tracking, illegal surveillance and crude forms of national ID.

It was at that point, I broke free of my addiction. I had to. I could go no lower,
so I had to force myself to rise. At first the pain of withdrawal was unbelievable. Without political activism, I cried to myself in my agony, how would I ever Make A Difference? How could I Fulfill My Responsibility As A Citizen? How could I simply stand by and let the forces of evil—R or D—make the government ever bigger, ever more abusive, and ever less accountable to We the People and It the Constitution?

But as the agony of withdrawal began to ebb, my newly clear eyes began to see that I had been living an illusion. Activism was no “cure” for bad politics. It was simply a diversion. By keeping millions of us hooked on the belief that we could Make A Difference, our masters simply got our support, our money, our time and our energy—then did whatever they wanted to do. They used us, then they abandoned us. And we … poor fools, we fell for it.

All because we had been conditioned to crave our political fix, even taught to believe it was good for us.

For nearly 15 years after that, I was “clean.” And I was vindicated. I watched a so-called “conservative Republican,” George W. Bush, preside over the biggest expansions of both the welfare state and the warfare state in decades. With clear eyes, I watched (and understood the reality) as the Republican Bush made the evil Democrat Clinton look good. Whoever could have imagined such a feat! And still, after years of Republican rule, we have the Brady law.

But then came Obama, a politician who seemed “different.” Oh, don’t get me wrong. I didn’t stoop to supporting him. But he looked more interesting and (I laugh to think of it now) more honest than the weaselly old McCain. Still, I saw myself as out of their political world—above their world. I believed I would forever put my energies into creating freedom in the only way it can be created: through individuals committing their own lives to freedom, building communities of freedom, refusing to submit to tyranny in any form, laying their own lives on the line for freedom every day. I knew— and I know—that you’ll never gain freedom merely by begging it from conniving politicians.

So I was surprised and ashamed when I found myself sinking once again into the addictive process of following late-night vote-counting sessions.  Frankly, I don’t know that I’ll ever be cured of this terrible political habit. It may be too late for me. I’m probably lost forever.

But even an old addict can give a warning to others: Don’t do as I did. Beware. Danger lies directly in front of you.

This November, the Republican Party will ask for your energies, your money and your votes. They’ll lure you with the promise that, when you elect them, they will repeal the horrible health care bill. They will undo the taxes of Obamacare. They will turn the nation once again toward the sanity and freedom of small government. Some of those Republicans may even mention words like “Constitution” and “Founding Fathers.” Freedom, freedom, freedom, they’ll call.

But heed this sad, broken voice of experience: They lie, they lie, they lie.  They will no more repeal Obama’s work than they repealed the work of Bush, Clinton, etc. They will merely leave all those burdens on your shoulders— Brady, Obamacare and all—and add new burdens of their own devising.

Heed their siren cries of “freedom” and you’ll be lured to your doom and broken, as I am.

Never forget, “No matter who you vote for, the government gets elected.”

About Author

Claire Wolfe

Claire Wolfe is a libertarian author and columnist. Some of Wolfe's favored topics are gulching or homesteading, firearms, homeschooling, open source technology, and opposition to national ID and the surveillance state or nanny state.

Leave a Reply