If President Barack Obama is for it, the Republican Party is against it, and it doesn’t matter what it is.
In another obvious example of blind Republican hatred for our president, House Republicans this week proposed House Resolution 1459, which would limit the amount of times a sitting president could establish new national parks and monuments. The resolution seeks to amend the Antiquities Act of 1906, which was established by then president Teddy Roosevelt, who is seen as the face of the American conservation movement of the early 1900s. The resolution is a direct response to President Obama from Republican Representative Rob Bishop, who believes that the president overstepped his executive authority last week when he expanded the California Coast National Monument to protect more than 1,600 acres off the Mendocino Coast. Bishop released a press release in support of the bill which read:
“The President’s use of the Antiquities Act to expand the Coastal California National Monument is disappointing to say the least. It is also purely political and undermines sincere efforts to reach consensus on questions of conservation. The House passed legislation to incorporate these public lands into the national monument with bipartisan support- both at the committee level and on the House floor. The fact that this bill hasn’t yet been considered in the Senate is not an oversight, it was intentional. The legislation was held up in the Senate so the President could usurp the congressional process. In other words, the House was punked by the President. There is no immediate urgency to make this a national monument. Had the Senate done its job, the bill would have been considered and passed under regular order. There was broad support for the measure. The President seems to view the legislative process as relevant only when it is politically convenient. Unfortunately, that is not how our founding fathers intended for the federal government to operate. I am troubled by the way President Obama and Harry Reid misuse the powers entrusted to them by the American people. This only hurts our country as we move forward tackling some of the biggest issues facing the American people.”
Leave it to modern-day Republicans to spit on the legacy of Teddy Roosevelt in order to spite Barack Obama.
Designating national monuments is nothing new to sitting presidents. In his State of the Union address, President Obama stated, “I’ll use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations.” The 112th Congress was the first one since World War II to not protect a single new acre of public lands as, all of a sudden, preserving our wilderness became a political issue. In fact, it wasn’t until early March of this year that Congress decided to protect Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Dunes, marking the first time in Barack Obama’s presidency that Congress actually decided to do its job and protect our national treasures.
President Obama was not about to sit around and wait a few more years for Congress to do its job. So he acted by bypassing Congress exactly as he said he would do.
The Mendocino Coast became the 10th national park or monument designated by President Obama. Compare that with 19 national parks and monuments designated by President Bill Clinton and 5 national parks and monuments designated by President George W. Bush. Not only is it not an abuse of power that Representative Bishop claims it to be, but, in fact, it is something that the American people highly support. In November of 2013, the Center for American Progress found that by a margin of greater than 3-1, the American people believe that a president should be creating new national parks and monuments. Compare that with a February 2014 survey from Colorado College that found that 69% of western voters would be more likely to support a political candidate who wanted to enhance national park protections.
So if it follows in the tradition of a great Republican president such as Teddy Roosevelt, is not an abuse of power, is supported by the American people, and is a winning campaign issue why are Congressional Republicans against it?
Simple: They are against it because Barack Obama is for it.
The vote is scheduled for next week, exactly one year after President Obama designated five national monuments including one of Harriet Tubman and one for Charles Young of the famous Buffalo Soldiers, a regiment of African American soldiers who fought during the Civil War. It’s as if Congressional Republicans aren’t even trying to hide their overt racism anymore. This vote, much like the 50+ votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, is done purely for show. House Republicans know the resolution will more than likely get defeated in the Senate and they undoubtedly know that President Obama would veto it, should it somehow get that far. And yet, they have again chosen to take something so common as designating national parks and monuments, turned it into a divisive issue, and used it to attack our president all while wasting tax payer dollars.
History will not look kindly upon the Republican Party of this era. The party offers nothing in the way of substantive policy ideas. The “Party of No” might seem like a good short-term political strategy, but it is going to ultimately cause the demise of the Republican Party. Just look at what they are against: Affordable health care, reasonable background checks for weapons, unemployment insurance, services for veterans, national park conservation, equal pay for women, equal treatment for LGBTs in the workplace, immigration reform, voting rights, and the list goes on and on. By repeatedly submitting these asinine resolutions on the floor of the House of Representatives such as House Resolution 1459, Republicans are literally documenting their own demise simply to try and score cheap political points against our sitting President. The American people continue to see what Republicans are against and have yet to hear what they are actually for. As Teddy Roosevelt once said, “A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues.”
For Republicans running in an election year, that is an especially risky strategy.