Thursday, September 16, 2010

Michelle Bachmann's flip-flop on the Legacy Amendment displays the conservative movement's anti-hunting politics

It is a major contention of this blog that the conservative movement of the present is anti-hunting. Michelle Bachmann, the sixth-district right-wing congresswoman, just proved it better than anyone could with her recent flip-flop on her previous public support for the Legacy Amendment. According to the Star Tribune, she told outdoor journalist Ron Schara in a public questioning forum in August at the Game Fair that she supported the Legacy Amendment, the fractional increase in the sales tax passed by Minnesota voters in 2008. One-third of the revenues go to wildlife habitat projects, and a large share of the money goes to cleaning polluted lakes and rivers, a major concern of hunters and anglers. Her campaign booth had a large "vote yes" signs in 2008, according to leaders of hunting and outdoor groups. Bachmann in fact stated she supported the amendment because of the involvement of family members with hunting.

Now, following a typical line of conservative Republican attack, she is labeling her Democratic opponent, Taryl Clark, "taxing Taryl", in part for Clark's support of the Legacy Amendment. Bachmann is denying that she ever supported the Legacy Amendment, despite the statements of prominent Minnesota sportsmen Don McMillan and Ron Schara that she had made supportive public statements. Neither McMillan nor Schara could be counted as liberal from their past public record.

The Legacy Amendment is already at work, restoring prairies and wetlands, cleaning polluted waters, and stopping vast tracts of forests from being developed and subdivided. All projects are open to public hunting and fishing under the state constitution. Lack of access to good habitat to hunt is a major factor in the decline of hunting across America, it's even starting to affect Minnesota hunters, a state with lots of public land and a high hunting participation rate. Public money is needed to reverse this, private efforts won't be enough. But don't tell that to today's conservative movement: they hate taxes and any government action more than they love hunting. Teddy Roosevelt, America's greatest conservationist President, whose actions were driven largely by his love of hunting in wild places, would be a pariah in the Republican party of today, labeled a socialist along with Barack Obama.