In Bundy’s case, he has been stiffing the federal taxpayers since 1989, using the lands we all own to produce profits that went solely to him. No doubt he also bemoans the federal deficit to which his freeloading has contributed.
Behind all the “patriot” bluster, is a kook and a taker.
His claim to a Mormon ranchstead of the 1880s is also bogus. Nevada’s 1864 state constitution predates it and pledged to “forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within said territory, and that the same shall be and remain at the sole and entire disposition of the United States.”
The right would love to see a reprise of the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s and 1980s. Nevada, where 84 percent of the state is owned by the federal government (in other words, all of us), was a hotbed. The protests helped energize backers of Ronald Reagan, although after he was president there was no massive privatization of public lands, James Watt notwithstanding.
It would surprise me if it happened. For one thing, so much of the West has been exurbanized and defiled, that the old disputes over permits, grazing fees and environmental effects are almost irrelevant. Land swaps, run through Congress with little transparency, helped destroy the empty majesty of such places as the Mogollon Rim.
One thing is clear. The Republicans of today have nothing in common with the conservationist ethic of Theodore Roosevelt and his forester Gifford Pinchot. Also, the enthusiasm for Bundy in “respectable” conservative circles shows how there really is no such thing.
Bundy is advocating armed rebellion against federal officers; his drama has drawn armed allies and has brought anonymous threats against others. Imagine if a left-winger did that? He or she would be in Gitmo faster than you can say “terrorist.” The fringe right has been allowed to run free with extreme violence throughout the Obama years with virtually no censure from their ideological mates.