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Palin and the Politics of Fishing
Being from the great state of Alaska, an outdoor adventurer's idea of heaven, it probably would be difficult for Sarah Palin to not be seen wearing a pair of fishing waders from time to time. When asked, she said she and her husband, Todd, regularly fished, rode snow machines, shot at the firing range and in general spent lots of time outdoors.
It's not a bad strategy for a politician: portray yourself as down-home, salt of the earth, one of the regular folks who knows what its like to be on the outside of the Washington elite. And Palin isn't the only one to use the "I'm just like you" approach, though she seems to have perfected it with her folksy charm. No question about it, she definitely seems at home in the great outdoors, unlike some politicians (John Kerry).
But despite the fishing poles and the hunting rifles slung over her shoulders, is there any real substance to her claim of being an outdoors-woman? This question needs to be asked of any political figure who uses outdoor recreation as a prop.
What do I mean by substance? For one, do they walk the walk? Do they truly work to protect the rights of hunters and fishermen? Do they stand up against big money interests, fighting for the preservation of natural habitats? Do they stand for the responsible management of hunting and fishing or do they just want to keep raising user fees to make it unaffordable for the common person?
Consumption vs. Conservation
The issue that really divides people these days is whether or not there is an overfishing problem, how much man is contributing to the problem and what, if anything, the government should do to manage it.
Conservatives are worried that environmentalists hold too much sway when it comes to wildlife management and that they are forcing politicians to pass stricter and stricter laws which will eventually prevent fishing and hunting altogether. In March of 2010, when the Obama administration announced the need for an Ocean Policy, headlines ran rampant with the warning, false as it was, "Obama wants to ban fishing!"
Liberals, too, can get caught up in the hysteria and are concerned that politicians are all in the pockets of big business. Though elected officials may speak a good game about protecting the health and sustainability of the environment, many liberals feel all they really care about is campaign contributions.
What's the plan?
With all of this in mind, whenever you see a politician holding a rifle or fishing pole, you have to ask yourself if that person actually has clear, well thought out ideas about maintaining the balance between managing the wildlife and preserving the rights of sportsmen. Or are they just using the forests and rivers as a backdrop for a cynical dog and pony show, expecting that no one will call them on their bluff.
This is where being an informed voter can really pay dividends. Do some research. Find out who has specific ideas on wildlife management and who is just blowing hot air. And you can put the politics aside. It doesn't matter what side of the spectrum a politician is on. What really matters is if they actually care enough to have thought about it.
It's not enough to put on the waders during an election year and proclaim yourself one of the people. We need substance.
2010 Captain Kujo All rights reserved.