Along with the tea party, .44 Magnum-owners, and fluoridation opponents, Sharron Angle
, Nevada's Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, has another hot-button association: to the Oath Keepers. The organization is made up of former members of the military, police and firefighters, and while Angle has never been any of those, she does claim
to be a member.
The Oath Keepers, with chapters in every state, are one of those fringe groups that share an ideology with the prototypical villain from the show "24." They're self-described "patriots," who have pledged to uphold the Constitution (just like the president!) if it's threatened. There's a list of 10 orders that they have sworn never to carry out. "They won't, for example, conduct warrantless searches, enforce martial law, or put Americans into concentration camps," writes Salon's Gabriel Winant. "It's not that surprising a code of conduct or even, in itself, entirely indefensible. (Though you do wonder where these guys were, say, five or six years ago.)" They're also big fans of the Second Amendment and preach the values of an armed citizenry, as did Angle, recently, as she commented on brisk ammunition sales
around the country in the Reno Gazette-Journal:
"That tells me the nation is arming. What are they arming for if it isn't that they are so distrustful of their government? They're afraid they'll have to fight for their liberty in more Second Amendment kinds of ways? If we don't win at the ballot box, what will be the next step?"
In March, the liberal magazine Mother Jones ran a long feature
on the Oath Keepers. "In the months I've spent getting to know the Oath Keepers, I've toggled between viewing them either as potentially dangerous conspiracy theorists or as crafty intellectuals with the savvy to rally politicians to their side," writes author Justine Sharrock. "The answer, I came to realize, is that they cover the whole spectrum."
The Oath Keepers say they are prepared to take up guns against the government, though there's been no instances of violence yet. Of course, were Angle to win her race, she too would be part of the federal government that the Oath Keepers find so nefarious. What will she say then to Oath Keepers like Pvt. 1st Class Lee Pray, who tells Sharrock: "If the government continues to ignore us, and forces us to engage, I'm willing to fight to the death."