Patience is considered to be the capacity to tolerate suffering without getting angry or upset, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties; in the Christian religion, patience is one of the most valuable virtues of life. Apparently, Republicans, purveyors of Christian virtues, having demonstrated supreme forbearance in the face of repeated suffering at the hands of presidents, both Republican and Democrat, have finally had enough and are not going to take any more abuse and suffering. After all, Republicans in the House have looked back on 108 years’ worth of presidential abuse and determined their predecessors’ were errant in their longsuffering and should have done in 1906 what House Republicans plan to do this week; tell Americans there will be no new national parks or protected federal lands ever. In Republican circles, Federal land is the purview of the Koch brothers and their cohort in the dirty energy industry and Republicans have determined it is damn high time the American people comprehend that they have no more right to national parks than they do decent jobs, healthcare, or clean air and water.
The breaking point for Republican patience was the President’s decision to use the authority granted him in a 108 year-old law to protect a pristine stretch of California’s Coast near Point Arena as a new national monument. The idea that an African American President dared follow the example of every president since Teddy Roosevelt and use the Antiquities Act of 1906 to protect iconic American places such as the Statue of Liberty and Grand Canyon was, as Utah Mormon Rob Bishop claimed, Barack Obama’s way of “punking” the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. It is noteworthy that Republicans have never accused any white president of punking the House by protecting federal land, but they have also never accused white presidents of dictatorial tyranny or shredding the Constitution by issuing executive orders either; something the Antiquities Act grants all presidents to protect Federal lands.
As has been their wont since taking control of the House after the 2010 midterms, House Republicans will resort to their only reason for serving in Congress according to Speaker John Boehner; repeal long-established laws that benefit the American people such as the Antiquities Act of 1906. The GOP repeal effort was necessary according to the bill’s sponsor because they claim President Obama did an “end-run around Congress” when he expanded the California Coastal Monument last week. Obviously, Republican patience was wearing thin with this President because it took less than a week for lethargic Republicans to write, debate, and schedule a vote to say “no more National Parks, monuments, or protected federal land” and make sure those decisions lie with the Koch brothers and dirty energy industry.
House Republicans will decide how much federal land belongs to the oil and coal industry, and according to H.R. 1459, it will be determined, in part, by how much money the Koch brothers can pour into localities to force community leaders to join the Kochs in reviewing the environmental impacts of protecting federal lands. At any rate, the bill will block President Obama, and likely future presidents, from using the 108 year-old law to establish national monuments or protect federal lands for future generations of Americans. Republicans Bishop and Doc Hastings (R-WA) contend the 108 year-old Antiquities Act is an atrocity because the exclusive power to decide not to protect public lands belongs to Congress that follows Republicans’ record of effectively shutting down all but one recent legislative effort to protect wilderness, parks, and monuments since they took control of the House.
Last week President Obama signed a bill to protect wilderness lands in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore that a delegation of Michigan representatives promoted to keep tourists’ dollars flowing and not to protect pristine land. Otherwise, Congress has not protected a single new acre of public lands since 2009 that represents the longest stretch since World War II. H.R. 1459 will add insult injury after Republicans shutdown the federal government for 16 days that not only cost national parks and local communities 8 million lost visitors, but cost local communities $414 million in tourists’ spending. There is a saying that money talks, and although localities lost $414 million in tourist dollars, the Koch brothers spend much more to elect Republicans who will reciprocate by giving them unrestricted access to pristine lands to despoil in their drive for dirty energy profits. The Kochs have spent untold millions attempting to eliminate California environmental protections over the past six years alone, and it is highly likely the President setting aside more of California’s coastline for protection was too much for the Kochs to tolerate so Republicans said enough is enough; no more protection from the Koch brothers intent on destroying California’s environment.
The Republicans scheduled the vote to put a stop to the President designating national parks and federal lands for protection to coincide with his establishment of monuments honoring African Americans Harriet Tubman and Colonel Charles P. Young exactly one year ago. Republicans are being proactive to prevent the President from protecting national sites that honor some of Republicans’ most despised Americans including women, Latinos, African Americans, the LGBT community, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and other communities that are under-represented by national parks and monuments.
Republicans will certainly resort to their typical assertion that they are simply following the will of the people they will claim deplore the idea of protecting federal land, and will tell main stream media Americans will embrace with open arms the concept of “no more national parks,” but according to two completely separate surveys, voters say leaders in Washington should be creating new parks instead of closing national parks and cutting budgets for public lands by a margin of more than three-to-one. However, the Koch brothers and the dirty energy industry wield more influence than over three-quarters of the population and Republicans have demonstrated they serve the infinitesimal minority regardless of the overwhelming majority’s wishes.
It is unclear exactly what contributed most to breaking Republicans’ patience that incited them to decide to repeal an over a century year-old law that every president since Theodore Roosevelt used to protect federal land and establish National Parks. It is true they detest any Federal spending that benefits the majority of the population and does not enrich the wealthiest Americans and their corporations, and there is little debate they exist to hand over America’s public and private lands to the Koch brothers and their dirty energy cohort to rape and despoil into barren waste lands. However, more likely than not, the idea that an African American President believed he could safely follow the example and practice of every white president since Roosevelt and use the Antiquities Act of 1906 to protect pristine California coastline was just too much for Republicans to tolerate. Subsequently, this week they will vote to repeal the Antiquities Act and tell Americans no more national parks because you elected an African American President and he protected the California coastline from the Koch brothers.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.