There is a good reason for harsh penalties for criminal activity besides punishing a criminal, although suffering harsh consequences is apropos for some crimes. Although it is doubtful whether or not penalizing a criminal will ever have any rehabilitating or behavioral transformative affect, at least the violator is removed from society and possibly serves as a deterrent to other criminal activity. Conversely, when the justice system fails and criminals are allowed to violate the law with impunity, and conservatives praise the criminal as a heroic American patriot, it will just be a matter of time until some Republican candidate campaigns on breaking the law.
Last April when serial welfare cheat and seditionist Cliven Bundy marshaled heavily-armed militias and incited a dangerous standoff with federal officers executing a federal court order, he claimed the federal government had no right to the federal land it had purchased or authority over that land. At the time there were several Republicans who agreed with Bundy, but then again they are the same malcontents that claim the federal government’s existence is invalid; but that is another story.
Now, there is a serious movement among Republicans who embrace Bundy’s claim the federal government is forbidden from owning land and the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Colorado is actively campaigning on a promise of seizing all federal land. His plan, like those in several other Republican states, is confiscating national parks, national forests, and all public land from the federal government and selling them off to the Koch brothers for mining, drilling, and logging. As private land owned by the Kochs, federal regulations and environmental protections become null and void and America’s National Parks, wilderness areas, and waterways become dirty energy wastelands.
The Republican candidate, Bob Beauprez, openly called for seizing all federal land in Colorado because he claims “this is a fight we have to wage.” Like Cliven Bundy, Beauprez claims that all federally-owned land in the state is private Colorado land that means “we can cancel their (federal government) lease like they are tenants.” Beauprez is one of several Republicans running for office who agree with Bundy that states have the right to sell off federally-owned land to the highest bidder primarily because they do not acknowledge any federal government authority. For his part, according to his campaign document, “Liberty’s Promise: My Plan to Protect Freedom and Constitutional Rights,” Beauprez intends on “reestablishing state rights and duties” primarily “by taking control of land from the federal government” and selling it to mining, oil, and logging interests.
Like most 10th Amendment, state rights extremists, Beauprez’s claim to protect constitutional rights by seizing federal land misses the important point that seizing federal land is patently unconstitutional. Even if it were constitutional, it would place an extreme financial burden on Colorado taxpayers in the hundreds-of-millions of dollars annually just to cover the cost of the state’s devastating wildfires as a result of extremely dry conditions due to droughts caused by climate change. Climate change that Beauprez asserts in his 2009 book, A Return to Values, is “at best a grossly overhyped issue and a complete hoax foisted on most of the world.” According to a candidate whose state suffers from extreme wildfires and the effects of climate change, Beauprez compared the “global warming fervor” to “a religious revival being spread by true believers with similar evangelical enthusiasm.”
Beauprez joins over a dozen other candidates, most for federal office and several current members of Congress, who agree whole-heartedly with seditious criminal Cliven Bundy that America’s federally-owned lands are illegal and fair game to be seized by states and sold off to the drilling, mining, and logging industry. According to analysis by the Center for American Progress, there are 13 candidates on the midterm ballots as well as 7 sitting senators who are not up for reelection from 10 states who sympathize with Cliven Bundy and agree the federal government has no right or authority to own land. Land, by the way, that includes National Parks, recreational waterways, and wilderness areas that belong to all the American people to enjoy. However, being typically Koch-funded right-wing extremists, Republicans have been on a six-year tear to seize everything from the people including their pensions, Medicare, and now their national parks to open to corporate mining, drilling, and logging interests.
One Republican candidate for Congress in Arizona, Andy Tobin, joins Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID) who believes states have constitutional purview to “declare sovereignty, exclusive authority, and jurisdiction over the air, water, public lands, minerals, wildlife and other natural resources within their boundaries.” During the Bundy seditious standoff, Tobin sent a fundraising email sympathizing with Bundy as the “victim of overbearing government regulations,” and believes relief for the criminal can only come by seizing federally-owned land. However, based on the Republicans funded by the Koch brothers praising the criminal Bundy as a patriot hero, it is more plausible that their support was more about a movement to seize federal land to give the Kochs freedom from federal and state regulations; not helping a criminal. It does, though, inform why many Koch-funded Republicans rushed to defend Bundy as a patriot against the federal government that was “overbearing” because it purchased the land Bundy trespassed on for two decades.
An overwhelming majority of voters in Western states vehemently oppose Republican’s unconstitutional proposals to seize National Parks such as the Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain recreation area, or lake Meade, but Republicans routinely ignore the will of the people; especially when it conflicts with the demands of their campaign donors. There has been a movement afoot to allow oil, gas, and mineral exploration and drilling on federally protected land, especially in the Grand Canyon and along pristine coastal wilderness areas on and offshore that Willard Romney assailed President Obama for opposing during one of the presidential debates. The movement now is mainstream and a campaign issue in Western states.
One wonders, now, if the Bundy standoff was more about bringing attention to, and garnering support for, the Republicans’ plans to seize federal land to sell to the highest bidder for mining, drilling, and logging than illegally grazing cattle. Although there were quiet murmurs among Republicans in Utah and Arizona about seizing federal land before the Bundy sedition, there were no blatant candidate campaigns based around an unconstitutional action that, like everything Republicans do, appears to be just another ploy to hand America over to the Koch brothers