We are socked in for a day here and decided not to spend twelve hours hiking in the rain. I stand by that decision. Consequently, we are hanging out, reading and walking up and down a country road. How awful.
I was thinking of a bumper sticker we once sported on our vehicles that used to inspire rage. It was merely three words, “Keep it Wild.” We often came down from hikes to find epitaphs written in the road dirt on our vehicles suggesting impossible sexual acts. I once got a ticket for trespassing that I suspect had to do with the three words. Little known fact, the Department of Fish and Game rides fenceline for large landowners, identifies with them, feels for them. Those are the real employers.
“Keep it Wild” was the motto of Montana Wilderness association, now a collaborative group. I am told that the organization was well down that path even when I was active, but my own perceptions were newly formed and years away from clarity. But I have suggested a new motto for them, a bumper stcker sure not to offend anyone:
KEEP IT MILD
Bob Decker, then the executive director of MWA, suggested to me something hard to grasp at the time, now easily seen to be “framing.” He tried to explain to me that in order to sit and discuss issues with then-Senator Max Baucus, you had to get in the room. And the room was heavily guarded. The only way in was to check testicles at the door.
Current MWA elite are proud of their collaboration with Senator Jon Tester, not aware that they are merely working with the replacement Senator from the Timber Lobby. They were excited to be part of the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, to be asked to sit in the room! The resulting bill, once thought to be the Conrad Burns agenda, is now dressed up as something new. MWA members are proud of their friendship with Tester and proud they are in the room. As I mentioned to MWA executive Gabriel Furshong in a friendly little tweet, it sort of makes me want to puke.
But it’s more than just being in the room. The whole organization has had to go through a mind shift, from combative to collaborative, and not be ashamed about it. To accomplish this they have demonized the fighters, the strong men and women who gave us the lands that are preserved to date. They are “rock throwers,” we are told. They just don’t play well with powerful people.
Well, you decide. For me, rock throwing beats moral cowardice every time, hands down.
But how, you ask, can anything ever be accomplished without compromise and effort at common ground?
That is the wrong question. Those things have a place, but compromise comes after, and not instead of battling. The politicians are bought and put in place to work for the monied interests. Jon Tester has no interest in compromise or collaboration. He receives guests on bended knee. If you are allowed in his office, you have already lost. You can only be held in undignified posture, your saving grace the imagined respect you think you’ve earned by acts of capitulation.
The political system crushes moral mousiness. There is only one way to deal with the Testers of this world, and that is to inflict pain as punishment for misdeeds. That is the only language that bought politicians understand. How often have we all heard Democrats (and that is all MWA is now, Democrats in action) say “Well, I don’t support so and so on this or that, but I will still vote for him.” Thank you sir, I’ll have another.
Effective punishment of politicians requires ground-level organization, and that is why MWA was founded. Money found a way, and replaced all of the fighters with collaborators, so that now Keep it Wild is Keep it Mild.
It would help, however, if in addition to yielding the agenda, MWA would also give itself a new name. No longer Montana Wilderness Association, they should be called Montana Wimps Amalgamated. Associated with the Timber Lobby, they’ve become a key driving force in the art of losing while feigning dignity.