Saturday, April 26, 2014

Learn to pick your battles, and your heroes

When the standoff between Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management first hit the news, I didn't quite know what to make of it.  Then I saw that Bundy was getting enthusiastic support from the likes of Alex Jones and Pat Dollard, so I figured it was just a matter of time before the whole thing turned into a clown show.  Boy, did it ever.

Cliven Bundy's fight with the BLM has somehow turned him into some sort of conservative folk hero, but to him this is much more than just a fight over grazing rights and government overreach.  Cliven Bundy doesn't think the federal government has the right to do anything in Nevada; to him, the federal government doesn't even exist.  Cliven Bundy is not a conservative.  He's not even a libertarian, though he may call himself one.  He's closer to an anarchist than he is anything else.

How shocked can we really be that federal agents would use a show of force to try to make an example out of a guy who openly admits he doesn't recognize the authority of any federal agency?  The feds were bound to show up with guns eventually.  And the fact that Bundy seems to have every wacko militia within a thousand miles on his speed dial essentially guarantees that this will end very badly for everyone, especially the wives they plan to use for human shields.

You'd think all that would be enough to make Cliven Bundy politically radioactive, but there's more.  Now he's making ridiculous comparisons between the treatment of blacks today under Obama and the treatment of blacks under slavery, and instead of apologizing for it when people cry foul, he doubles down on stupid.  There are plenty of reasonable ways to make the case that the welfare state is destructive to black families, but apparently Bundy's superpower is always finding the dumbest, most offensive, most counterproductive way to make the case for anything.  Whether his statements were motivated by racism or not (I don't think they were), the end result is still that anyone who ever said a kind word about Bundy will be called a racist now, and even people who never supported him will still be called a racist when they try to make similar arguments in a better way.  It'll be like Todd Akin all over again.

Obama has been a spectacularly awful president.  Pretty much every agency in this administration is rife with incompetence and has been politicized beyond belief, and I'm sure that the BLM is no exception.  To make matters worse, Harry Reid may very well have infected the BLM with his own special brand of awfulness and corruption.  But the enemy of your enemy is not always your friend.  The federal government owns 80% of the land in Nevada, and more land than they should in plenty of other states.  Lots of people not named Cliven Bundy have been affected by this.  Why not point to some of those examples instead?

I hope the GOP does well in 2016, but we can't count on anything.  We might end up with a decent presidential candidate, or we might not.  In the meantime, we have a real chance to make some headway in 2014, so let's please not blow it by allowing someone like Cliven Bundy to become the poster child for our cause.  Republicans need every seat in the House and Senate they can possibly get.