Rocky Baker points out that the Idaho Cattle Association is pleasantly surprised-
A lot of people I know worked hard to get Barack Obama elected President; not just conservationists, but independents and Democrats who had sat on their hands for years.
As Barker points out, after the election the traditional Western resource users (who are often irritatingly called “The West”) expected the worst and were ready to fight against another “war on the West.” This is something they claim — a “war on the West” — whenever some President doesn’t give them the deference and subsidies they think they are entitled to.
Now they are grinning. He has done nothing to disturb them. “Democrat” Walt Minnick, Idaho’s soon-to-be-defeated congressman in the state’s first district reportedly said “The Obama people have learned from Clinton’s first 90 days.”
I think they’ve learned the wrong lesson.
Barker’s article quotes a number of people who say leaving the traditional resource interests alone ( interests who, interestingly, employ very few people) is smart politics.
I beg to differ. People need to consider why the Democrats in the Interior West have such a hard time doing well over the course of more than just one election. The answer is easy, Democratic Party activitists, most of whom are unpaid, never get rewarded. Elect a Democratic and they snub you to glad hand with the landed noblemen who have never voted for a Democrat in their life.
Republicans are being heavily criticized for playing to their base at a time when it is shrunken in size and seems half crazy, but folks are predicting a likely Republican upswing in 2010. There are complicated reasons for this, but in the West the Democrats are going to get beaten because, unlike the Republicans, they give no reward to their base. Why should anyone do voluntary work for a Democrat, and especially for Obama? If the best reason a President or a Democratic office-holder can give you for helping them is that they aren’t crazy Republicans, they are crazy themselves if they expect more than a half-hearted vote.
If organizer Obama was a community organizer the way he treats Western Democrats, especially conservation activists, he would have been lionized by all the slumlords.
As I wrote at the beginning, “A lot of people I know worked hard to get Barack Obama President, not just conservationists, but independents and Democrats who had sat on their hands for years.” I wasn’t one of them. I despised Bush, but I gave Obama no money, posted no signs, wrote no essays in his favor. In the past I did work for many Democratic candidates, and I will help local candidates again. In 2008 I spent my usual political donation money and time instead downloading itunes, buying clothes, cameras, and giving to a few conservation groups. In other words I spent my money wisely.