(Fred Weinberg/The Penny Press) – A few weeks ago, in our sister publication, the Elko Independent, we ran a lengthy piece detailing the history of the contentious relationship between Elko County and the United States Forest Service.
It paints an ugly picture.
Forest rangers, it seems, are the ultimate in Federal Government employees. “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.”
Only, in many cases where Elko County is concerned, it’s “I’m from the government and you’d better think of what I’m doing as ‘help,’ and you better like it because what I say goes.”
The current ranger, Gar Abbas, wants to close hundreds of miles of roads and has been playing footsie with the Elko County Commission about his true intentions. He’s the latest in a chain of rangers who have been run off by the locals for being arrogant and unyielding.
The citizens of Elko County—indeed, of all of rural Nevada—have been very effective in the face of the Forest Service’s jihad over the years, but they’ve been fighting so long that nobody has ever really asked a very basic question.
What is driving this insane set of policies where the Federal Government unilaterally decides to come to rural Nevada and tell us how to live?
All political power is derived from the people.
And it would seem that if you want to stop the Federal Government from implementing stupid and dangerous policies that directly affect the lives and livelihoods of the people living in the area, then you elect a president with the understanding that he will put a stop to this nonsense.
This nonsense would be stopped dead in its tracks if the next Secretary of Agriculture were someone who would appoint a director of the Forest Service with instructions that part of the job of Forest Ranger is to be respected and liked by the people who lived in and near the lands he or she managed. And a Secretary of the Interior who appointed a Bureau of Land Management director with similar instructions.
Since Nevada is an early caucus and swing state, the eyes of Fox News Channel will be upon us for the next 13 months.
We will be hosting everybody from Mitt Romney to Herman Cain in our homes, our businesses and our lunch counters for the kind of retail politics where we can make those points very loudly.
Under the circumstances, they cannot afford to ignore us.
And we can be very effective because, frankly, Interior and Agriculture are secondary to the very big problems that our next president will have to face. If a new president wants his Agriculture and Interior Secretaries to perform in a certain way, all he has to is to give an order. There will be some blowback from some environmental groups, but not nearly as much as reforming the tax system will cause.
These issues are meat—red meat—and potatoes to us in the rural West, but not very sexy or even all that controversial anywhere else. It shouldn’t be a very big deal to tell a prospective president that if he wants our vote, we want Interior and Agriculture off our backs. And it shouldn’t be a very big deal to get any of them to pay attention because, frankly, the yuppie environmentalist vote from Pennsylvania isn’t going to them anyway.
The biggest problem with these issues is that nobody has ever really grabbed a Republican Presidential Candidate by his ear and made him listen to what we have to put up with.
If we communicate to them that this is a heart-attack serious issue to a large group of voters, then they have to pay attention, no matter how non-sexy it is nationally.
When they show up in Elko or Winnemucca or Battle Mountain or Ely, make Agriculture and Interior’s land use policies the first thing we talk about instead of the deficit or jobs. Then, explain how those policies are killing job creation. Then talk about the deficit.
It’s time we remembered that they need us a whole lot more than we need them.
Ask for a promise and, then, vote accordingly.