Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Time for a little introspection...

There's a chance--a small one, or course--that I've managed to get this all wrong. I've spent the last year or so railing against the machine, pointing out all the bought-and-paid-for elected officials out there who do the legislative bidding of The Man. Perhaps I need to look elsewhere.

In truth, we, as hunters and fishers, are to blame. We, as a whole, are either apathetic or so programmed by tradition that we end up as part of the problem when go to the polls and send ambitious politicians to Washington or to state capitols all across America. We're brainwashed.

Damn it. I think it's our own fault. We're robotic idiots who vote the way we vote because that's all we've ever done. We assume that the folks who claim to fight for good old-fashioned family values and claim to be economically and fiscally responsible and who want to make sure our American way of life is protected from those who would destroy it are also fighting for our rights to hunt and fish and experience the best of America on our terms. We assume that public lands will always be public and we take for granted that access to these wonderful places will always require only a little desire and the means to get there.

What we see...
And when folks ask us how we feel about our hunting and fishing heritage, and the public places that belong to us simply because we're Americans, we tell them how important they are to us. We want public lands kept intact and not sullied so some robber baron can make a buck and leave a mess behind. We want wild places and wild things in our lives, and we are making the connection between these wild places and the opportunities they offer to us when we wander into the wilderness with a rifle slung over our shoulder or a fly rod in our hands. We get it.

What they see...
And then we go to the polls and send some pandering ass to DC, where he busily works to ensure all his funders get what they paid for, which, if you think about it, is the same thing we want: access to our public lands, freedom from all the constraints of an overbearing government and the right to make a living. The only difference is, deep-pocketed political funders want to treat our treasured resources--the ones that belong to all of us--like a ghetto crack whore. They want to sink drills, dig open-pit mines, inject fluid, take away anything of economic value, leave a sticky mess behind and then get the fuck out.

And there's no conscience. No looking back. And our apathy lets it happen.

"The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men."

These days, we're all enamored by the idea of replacing the dude in the White House with someone who's a bit more in touch with what Americans really want. Someone who shares our values and appreciates hard work. We want someone who's not going to take so much pity on the lazy and destitute or the dipshits on Wall Street or in Detroit who essentially pushed themselves to the brink of disaster and then had to beg for help from the rest of us, who are now really struggling thanks largely to the mistakes of these clowns. And we want someone who stands firmly behind the Second Amendment and will protect our right to own and use firearms.

And for some reason, that's where we stop wanting. That's the end of the wish list.

The other day, I read this (video above, for proof), and reality hit me. On the surface, this is the type of guy we'd all like to see in the White House. He's articulate. He's successful. He's clean-cut and well-spoken, and certainly he's very bright. But at his heart, he's another god-damned One Percenter with no interest in the common man. No, he says, he wouldn't have bailed out Wall Street, even though a massive percentage of his campaign funds come from that very classy lane in Lower Manhattan. He would repeal the "job-killing" health care bill, even though he crafted one virtually identical to it in his home state of Massachusetts (where public lands are minimal). He wouldn't have bailed out the automobile industry, even though his old man was once the governor of Michigan. He wouldn't cut money from our defense budget, even though that's where the bulk of our spending lies.

And, it seems, he'd be willing to liquidate public land, apparently because his cronies in Utah during the 2002 Olympics said they didn't know why there was so much public land out there, and what it was for, other than to develop coal and gold reserves or to appease the most extreme environmentalists.

Ask yourself, the next time you've got a big bull elk in the crosshairs, or the next time you cast that fluffy Stimulator to that rising cutthroat ... "Am I an extreme environmentalist?"

Unfortunately, I think it's safe to say that most of us who hunt and fish (and, after three years into the presidency that was supposed to be so liberal and extreme, still own all of our guns) seem to think we're somehow contractually obligated to vote for uninformed elitists like this, simply because they attach the right letter next to their names when they appear on the ballot. And, judging from the bought-and-paid for lapdogs in DC, we have a pretty shitty track record--we send these assholes to DC all the time, only to scratch our heads and wonder why in the world they'd be so stupid as to try and bend over for industry interests that just want to rape and pillage the very lands we hold most dear.

But, in our hearts, we know. They're bought. They're paid for. They're working for their constituents who really matter to them. We're the fucking proletariat drones who mindlessly punch chads next to candidates' names because they are rumored to support the values we hold most dear.

We need to snap out of it. We need to think for ourselves. We need to reexamine those values, and decide, quite frankly, if we'd be able to exercise any of them without public land and our time spent exploring them as a backdrop. Do you like hunting with your son? Or your father? Do you like time around the campfire with good friends? Do you like being able to wander up into the hills and disappear up a hidden trout stream for a few hours once or twice a month? Do you dream about that Alaskan fishing trip, or the Montana elk hunt from your urban refuge?

How about those values? Family. Relationships. Time spent outdoors. Don't those count?

Think for yourself. Turn off the brainwasher and tune into reality. Above all, start voting for the values you hold most dear, not the ones you're told you hold most dear.

It's time we stopped being part of the problem, don't you think?


  1. Royal Coachman hit one of the biggest nails on the head. It is us that are a large part of the problem, we can no longer bury our collective heads in the sand. This article reminds of the old Blonde Comic where Dagwood's boss comes out screaming at Dagwood, what is your problem: Is it ignorance or apathy to which Dagwood says I don't know and I don't care. An active, involved citizenry is what makes government work for all, a complacent citizenry does the opposite. Hunters/anglers get active and stay the course, our future depends on it. JW Westman Montana