by Stephen Capra
For the past few years I have spoken with many good Republican friends who feel as though they have lost the party they once so proudly belonged too. These Republicans I speak of care deeply about issues like wilderness, global climate change and wildlife, but they view it through the prism of being Republican means a far broader interpretation than that of the current Tea Party driven, oil and gas industry controlled party of today.
If you look at their plans should they take control of the Senate, their goal should be called the “Destroy Americans Wildlands and Water Act.” They only seem to see our wildlands as a place of exploitation. Their economic strategy includes getting the Keystone pipeline approved, more drilling and fracking, but removing that silly regulation that somehow tries to protect drinking water, and of course open up more of our coasts to drilling. Let’s not forget selling off public lands in the West as their means of reducing the deficit. Its pure madness and it’s not that far removed from reality.
To watch the Republican party of 2014, is to witness a party bought and paid for by oil and gas, Koch Brothers, the religious right and the extremism of the Tea Party, which is large corporations, exploiting rural America and people who feel their lives are not working according to their white status, especially because of an African-American President of thought and reason.
Chevron is pumping millions into Senator McConnell of Kentucky’s tight Senate race with the goal of becoming the majority leader in the Senate. Now, let’s be clear, Democrats suffer from some of the same influences brought by lobbyists and the many special interests they represent, however, my focus is conservation and on this issue there is an amazing gulf.
It’s important to look at the interconnectedness of life. How would a party that fights woman’s rights that seemingly want to go to war daily, expand military budgets and subsidies to ranchers along with oil and gas interests. While rabidly fighting health care, how can we expect them to care about conservation? They are not just detached from reality; they have traded their connection to the earth for the madness of perceived wealth.
Republicans since the Reagan years rarely seem to see a wilderness bill they support. They have become obstructionists to most environmental legislation and only tend to agree if some major pork for their district is attached. They seem to have very little sense of the importance or spiritual renewal that comes with protected land.
The influence of oil and gas interests has lead governors in the southeast to demand the opening of their coasts to drilling. In North Dakota, they are just now discovering the spills, crime, loss of a night sky, and the dangers that come with putting faith in big oil. The “drill baby drill” propaganda that Fox news and many Republicans now proudly speak of has become a point of pride for many Americans.
From this also comes the carefully choreographed messaging about denying Climate Change and the long list of Republicans from oil states that speak out and pushback from sound science in such a pious manner while the planet screams for reason. It is a sickness that permeates this party and we are paying the price in funding to parks, the obsession of spending cuts from a group that gave us the Iraq war and the destruction of our economy.
The same party has leaders like representative Stephen King of Iowa who supports dog fighting and made sure to add an amendment to the Farm bill that removed protections and inspections of farm animals. Perhaps it’s our own Stevan Pearce of New Mexico, (he even spells his name weird) who proudly spoke of selling off public lands to remove our nation’s debt and who has done all he can behind the scene to block Mexican wolf recovery efforts.
It is a tragedy for this country and the world to see the decline of a once great party that has devolved into a tightly controlled group so devoid of feelings, so full of greed and drunk with power, that they would create a world where most of us are numbers and our lands and waters destroyed for the mansion on the hill.
We have become, not a nation of people, but an island of individuals. That sadly works against the shared responsibility of our public lands and waters.
Elections are less than 10 days away. Voting, like land protection, is more difficult than ever for those in states determined to reinstate the poll tax. Meanwhile our parks will absorb another year of cuts, federal agencies that mange lands will also see cuts, but God forbid, a Republican accepts a cut in military spending!
This party must come back to its roots, its origins. The years of Teddy Roosevelt and the magic he inspired. If they will not- then they must be defeated, for all the reasons I mentioned above, but most of all, if we are to protect lands, end our addiction to oil, and live in harmony with wildlife, stopping them is not about politics, but rather survival.
It comes back to morality, the morality reflected in the magic that is our planet. Something the Republican party of 2014 has turned a blind eye to.
Bold Visions Conservation