For the past 21 years and counting, Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy has refused to pay the federal government his outstanding illegal grazing fees. Dating back to 1993, Mr. Bundy has since accumulated a gargantuan $1 million debt to the Bureau of Land Management. Now, hundreds other people from across the the Rockies and across the Midwest have traveled to the aid of Bundy, armed at the hip to rally behind his stubborn first amendment rights.
This recent uproar, however, only skims the surface of what has been a decades long dispute. The animosity of Nevada ranchers towards federal employees of the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management has been brooding for many years. It started back in 1989 when an endangered reptile called the Desert Tortoise was listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. Four years later, the United States Government sanctioned hundreds of thousands of acres for strict conversation efforts in order to protect the Desert Tortoise. This meant that all this federal land was off limits to cattle grazing, horse grazing, and off road racing (a popular activity as it turns out). However, some people like Mr. Bundy complained that this was government overreach and just an attempt at a “land grab” for his precious acres. He also criticized the legislation as unfair, saying that it would be too hard for him to maintain his entire herd with restricted grazing areas. So, he simply ignored the new laws. The government originally was intent on making sure he paid his dues, but after a few small pipe bombs were detonated at federal land management offices, action was delayed. Fast forward to the present 2014, the government has decided to take action again. However, after a few unruly skirmishes with the police attracted the support of fanatic libertarians, the federal government is ambivalent about how to act against this armed militia. However, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid put it, “It’s not over. We can’t have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it. So it’s not over.”
Honestly, I feel that this story is stupidly straight forward. A man has repeatedly broken the law year after year and refuses to be accountable. It is unimpeachable that Cliven Bundy be prosecuted accordingly. As far as the interests of those rallying in support of Mr. Bundy, it feels more like an excuse to take a stand against Obama’s America right now. Because on paper, it can easily look as if President Obama and his evil empire of cronies are trying to suppress the will of his citizens. Yet this really makes no sense, considering the law regarding illegal grazing fees was put into effect during Clinton’s administration and enforced through his and George Bush’s four combined terms. It is with much disappointment that America is subjected to such blatant insolence and indignant disregard for the law in the light of simply trying to save a species, the desolate Desert Tortoise. Amidst all the political squabble and recent racial implications (google Mr. Bundy’s video about “the negro”), the ray of hope that this legislation was providing for the Desert Tortoise has been covered by the mud of arrogance. While this event will mark an important time that the federal government has had to assert itself over America, it will also highlight how little Americans care about conservation at this point in history. Let us hope that in the very near future Americans will be more inspired to fight in the name of saving species than in the name of saving cattle money.