Hundreds sat under a tent near a tropical footbridge and vistas of the misty, unseasonably cool prairie on the Island at Pelican Lakes Golf Club in Windsor Friday night.
Rock star Ted Nugent was featured at the sold-out rally-fundraiser for Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams’ currently unopposed 2020 re-election bid.
With “Nugent for President” stickers on every table, the songwriter and National Rifle Association (NRA) supporter off-handedly used a racial slur, stumped for gun rights and unconditionally opposed the use of mind-altering substances.
In accordance with the event’s patriotic theme, Reams ceremoniously donned his Donald Trump-autographed “Make America Great Again” cap in front of the crowd.
“I can think of no better person to have here tonight,” Reams said in his introduction of the main attraction, than “the Motor City Madman.”
The stoic lawman let Nugent dominate the event with his political banter and stripped-down, energetic solo performances.
“It’s always good to support people who are standing up for your constitutional rights,” said Colorado House Minority Caucus Chair Rep. Lori Saine (R-Firestone). “I think that’s more what this event is about.”
The Red Flag Bill
Although Nugent didn’t explicitly echo the sentiment expressed on his branded stickers, his appearance did further the event’s spirited rally vibe.
Both Reams and Nugent, who joked he’s “never been to a gun-free zone, because when I show up it’s not a gun-free zone anymore,” railed against Colorado’s Red Flag Bill.
Of the 62 elected sheriffs in Colorado, Reams estimated that between 45 and 50 opposed the bill.
“We’re not hearing enough voices of women,” Saine said. “Especially women who are victims of domestic violence,” because “a man doesn’t need a gun to kill a woman.
“What this bill is going to do,” she said, “is make your ex-husband, your ex-boyfriend, a mental health professional able to ascertain your mental state and disarm you.”
Nugent felt that any regulations on guns would beget “unarmed and helpless” individuals in life-threatening situations.
“In case any of you thought this was a Republican versus Democrat issue, it’s not,” Reams said to a round of cheers from the crowd. “It’s a constitutional issue.”
A handful of sheriffs refusing to enforce the bill on constitutional grounds – including Democratic Arapahoe County Sheriff Tyler Brown – were honored at the event.
But Nugent wanted to bring it to an explicitly partisan place.
Despite their agreement on the Red Flag Bill, Nugent still called Brown out as an unwitting ally of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA), given his party affiliation.
Nugent brought up Pelosi at several points throughout the event as the prime example of “the enemy.”
Nostalgia, Race and Urban Decay
The guitarist called the Imperial Japanese – one of America’s foes in World War II – “the Japs” in a speech which also touched on urban decay and the importance of the traditional American work ethic he deems imperiled.
In the wake of the internment camps a generation of Japanese-American citizens endured over the course of the war, the community came to regard the term as offensive.
“I was raised in the afterglow of World War II, where the only reason we were able to defeat the Japs and the Nazis,” Nugent said was because Americans “fought harder, they killed more bad guys. Because they had a constitutional guarantee to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness when they got home.”
At several points, Nugent brought up memories of his childhood spent in suburban Detroit, which he said was then the “arsenal of democracy.
“I was raised in Detroit when it was the indisputable work ethic, productivity epicenter of planet earth,” Nugent said.
But he didn’t have any love for the city as it is now.
“It’s 2019 and I took some of my kids down to Detroit,” he said. “It’s hell. It’s a ghetto. It’s a wreck.”
There was “this beautiful architecture that they burnt down,” Nugent said, “because they were angry at somebody, so they burnt their own neighborhood down.
“It’s been all boarded up since ’67,” he said – an allusion to the race riots that swept through Detroit that summer.
“This is what happens when you lose the incentive to be the best you can be,” he said of the city, ignoring the litany of other issues a generation of urban planners, social scientists and historians have said contributed to the Motor City’s downfall.
No Drinking, No Drugs
“Wonder why I don’t support freedom of choice for getting high?” Nugent asked the audience. “Because I’ve been stepping over dead bodies all my life.”
The rock star – one of the only of his generation to consistently abstain from drugs and alcohol – was unafraid to bash marijuana in the state that may love it the most.
“Dope is a victim crime,” Nugent said. “Wherever you have a crying family around a grave, someone was high or drunk or someone was high and drunk and killed them.”
He ran down a list of deceased notables, including Jimi Hendrix, Keith Moon and John Belushi who had urged him to drink or use drugs at one point or another.
“I would like to think that we should have the freedom to self-regulate, but when we fail to self-regulate neighbors should step in,” Nugent said of the battle against addiction.
“Now that we’ve failed to self-regulate, that’s where we’ve got to step in now, and that’s where we the people could create policies that would help people stop making dangerous choices that kill innocent bystanders.”
When answering a question from about courting conservative millennials Louie Huey – a young libertarian who hosts the online talk show Major League Liberty – the provocateur admitted he was flummoxed by younger voters.
“That demographic is really confusing,” Nugent said, “because they’re the ones pushing for the comfortably numb lifestyle.”
At 71-years-old, Nugent seemed to admit to Huey that he may not be the best person for that task.
He urged Huey to convince young voters “that the American dream can only be appreciated clean and sober and experimenting in self-government based on the self-evident truths of the constitution.”
“I still relate to a universal demographic,” Nugent said, “but those people are already wise enough to understand truth, logic and common sense.”
Saine said many – especially independent voters “feel like their voices are being heard and they feel like Trump has given them that voice.”
“I think they feel the same way about Ted Nugent,” she said.