On a dry, bright afternoon in late June, members of the Bedford Militia lined up on a grassy lot on the property of Bryan Buchanan Auto Auction, right off the county highway in Montvale, Virginia. The group of about a few dozen stood in formation still as water, a US flag on one side and the squad's guidon bearer holding up the militia's flag on the other, the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. All were dressed in military fatigues and about half had a sidearm strapped to their hip. Bob Good, a Republican serving his first term in the US House representing the region, was on stage getting fired up, discussing his efforts on Capitol Hill to defend the Constitution, by which he meant the Second Amendment.
Good warned the audience that Joe Biden and the Democratic Party would not rest until they took away every gun in the country and forced critical race theory—the latest Republican boogeyman—into every classroom. The only thing preventing this leftist fever dream from becoming reality was the militia and their supporters, "proud patriots and constitutional conservatives who are doing their part to help strengthen our nation and to fight for the things that we believe in," he said to rapturous applause.