Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A wedge issue

For Idaho Democrats.  A recent story in the Statesman points to a circumstance that Dems could use to try to improve their image among Idahoans.  I think that most Idahoans just dismiss Dem candidates out of hand because the Republicans have successfully branded Dems as "liberals."  And Idahoans really dislike "liberals' for some reason.  I don't believe there is much thinking going on, just reflex, really.  Idahoans think they  know Dems and have, for the most part, rejected them.

I have noted before that Dems have an opportunity to break this up, at least with some voters. Ponder this a moment:
But a new study of the Department of Interior’s economic effects in Idaho shows there are far more hunting guides, river rafters and others who cater to recreational users on these lands than there are miners and cattlemen.
 Recreation accounts for more than six times more jobs than grazing and timber and three times more than energy and minerals. 
Recreation brings more jobs than livestock and mining. However, Red leaders are pretty tied into the livestock and mining industries, and in fact just think only of those industries. Remember this quote? "You've got to dig it out of the ground, you've got to grow it or you've got to cut it out of the forest," Otter said. There it is in a nutshell; mining, farming and ranching, and logging.

Who do you think are getting  those jobs in recreation?  Well, if the percentages hold, about 65% are going to Reds.  And who do you think are being guided, or traveling out into  the woods to hunt or fish?  Again, lots of Red voters.  But for those voters, their interests clash with those of the miners, ranchers and loggers.  Ever been run off BLM land by some  rancher who acts as if he owns it?  I have, and  so has pretty much anyone who spends much time on or crossing BLM land.

To finally get to the point, Dems ought to very publicly align themselves with those recreation interests, and with recreationists who want public access to public lands.  I think it's entirely safe to side with recreationists over miners, loggers and ranchers.  Miners and loggers perhaps used to vote Blue, but obviously no longer.  Dems have lost N. Idaho.

Don't approach this from an environmental viewpoint, but from a jobs and access viewpoint.  If Dems start talking about ensuring that hunters have access and opportunity for a quality outdoors experience, perhaps some of those Red voters might finally take a look at Dem policies and find that voting Blue might actually be in their own best interests.

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