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4.12.03

Teddy Roosevelt Republicans

Why Some Gun Owners Are Unhappy With Bush

In particular, Rosenbruch and a groundswell of other gun owners from the lower 48 are challenging the Bush administration's plan to undo protection of Alaska's Tongass and Chugach national forests by opening both to increased logging and road construction.

... Many analysts think most of these people are Republican and supportive of President Bush. But now, a growing vocal minority is taking a stand on concerns they have - from weakening water protection standards in fishable waterways, to proposals to drill for oil in what have been off-limits areas. These people want a clean and healthy environment not only for hunters and anglers, but for all Americans - and they believe Bush is straying too far from this principle.


I was surprised by the hostility toward Teddy Roosevelt that I've heard expressed by some of my classmates and professors -- a criticism along the lines of "he just wanted to save nature so that he could shoot it." I don't think Roosevelt was the greatest environmentalist, but it strikes me as wrong to dismiss hunters' views on the environment (especially for people who would jump to defend "traditional" use of the environment, which often includes hunting). Hunting and recreational fishing tend to lack the overriding profit motive and competition that can drive other forms of resource extraction (such as logging or commercial fishing) to shortsighted and unsustainable exploitation of the environment. A hunter's aesthetic commitment to the environment can be just as powerful as that of your typical backpacker environmentalist.

I doubt we'll see a huge shift of conservative hunters and anglers into the Democratic party due to Bush's wrongdoing, since these people tend to agree with the Republicans on a host of other issues. And in a way that's good. Conservative hunters provide important internal criticism of the GOP on environmental issues. Nevertheless, Howard Dean may be especially well positioned to peel off enough of these voters to put him over the top in some key states if, in his messages targetted at them, he emphasizes his commitment to fiscal discipline and gun rights (as well as his environmental criticisms of Bush) while downplaying the issues like gay rights and abortion that would alienate them.

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