Friday, April 18, 2014

Cliven Bundy is no Hero

The enemy of your enemy isn’t always your friend.

Harry Reid is one of the most arrogant, ignorant political hacks to have been foisted on the American people in a generation. Barrels of ink have been spilled chronicling his ignorance, corruption and almost comical incompetence. He would be legitimately comical if not for the fact that he is the Senate Majority leader and wields real power. Harry Reid’s latest enemy is Cliven Bundy, a Nevada cattleman who refuses to pay the Federal Government its “grazing fee” and as a consequence recently was surrounded by over 200 swat-team toughs from the Bureau of Land Management. This story is a complicated tail that goes back years and years, but once the helicopters and jack-booted Feds showed up it became headline news and quickly became a cause célèbre among the Tea Party, anti-government set. For them, Cliven Bundy was the hard working rancher fighting an out of control leviathan sent to rob him of his land and livelihood. Bundy good, Harry Reid bad.

My sympathies are always going to be with the individual against the State, and in this case especially so. The image of a bunch of Delta Team Six wannabees descending on a lone cattle rancher strikes me as a despicable overreach. But, once you explore this story in greater detail, it’s hard to maintain those sympathies.

Cliven Bundy has been a rancher all of his life like his family before him who have owned that land since 1870. He lives in a State where the Federal Government owns 84% of the land. He is also surrounded by hundreds of other cattle ranchers who, although they might not LIKE it, have had no problem paying the grazing fee. Bundy has refused to pay since 1993 and now finds himself $300,000 in arrears. Apparently the big shots at the BLM decided that they had had enough of Bundy and decided to make an example of him. So some idiot came up with the idea of confiscating his 400 head of cattle and holding them as ransom until he paid…or something like that. A hot mess has developed.

Listen, I take a back seat to no one in my frustration with big government. We suffer under a tyranny of laws, 80,000 pages of them at last count in the Federal Register. Furthermore, it pains me to write checks to the IRS when I consider how much of the money will be spent. But we live in a Constitutional Republic, the success of which is predicated on a population committed to the rule of law. Now, obviously if the Feds pass a law that asks me to kill my children, I will rebel even to the point of violent revolution to overthrow such a government. But short of that, I don’t get to pick and choose which laws I want to obey. I don’t get to attach a note to that check I just wrote to the IRS that says, “Oh, by the way, I deducted 20% from what I owe you because I don’t want to fund Obamacare.”

If Mr. Bundy doesn’t like the grazing fee, he should organize his fellow ranchers; raise hell at the State capital. He should become a royal pain in the neck on the local political scene and agitate for someone to run against Harry Reid. Cliven Bundy might be a decent hardworking guy who has been unduly harassed by an out of control government, but he also may be a cantankerous old fart who hates taxes. In either case, he’s no hero.