Why You Should Support Cliven Bundy
Why You Should Support Cliven Bundy
In the interest of time, we’re going to assume you haven’t been living under a cave and are at least moderately familiar with the story of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher at the heart of the current standoff between armed militia members and the federal government. I say “moderately familiar” because if you’ve heard anything about it, you’ve probably heard that he’s a squatter who didn’t pay his grazing fees. You may have heard that he threatened federal agents. You might even have heard that the folks showing up are a bunch of inbred rednecks with shotguns who are defending some kook who thinks he’s a sovereign citizen.
I could demolish each of those arguments, because not only are they false, but they’re ridiculous—and I’ve seen far too many conservatives fall for them this week. I’m not going to insult your intelligence with any of that. The bottom line is that at this point, if you care, you’ve already done your research and found the truth. In fact, I’ll go one better and say that if you don’t already know why armed federal agents rounding up and selling or even killing a private citizen’s cattle is a problem, then you need some serious education in what the purpose 0f the Constitution is, and what it says–but this article isn’t about that.
Instead, I’m going to talk to you about the real heart of the matter: why thousands of people left their homes and families, drove for days, and camped outside in temperatures that rose over 90 during the day and dropped below freezing at night, eating MREs and going without showers. Why they brought the US flag with them, and why they brought guns with them. Why they stood in front of armed federal agents—who were threatening to shoot them—and refused to move. Why even though the media is reporting that the crisis is “over,” there are still many armed patriots down in Nevada who have no intention of leaving yet.
The answer is simple: Because the federal government answers to us, and they need a very clear reminder of that.
The phrase “consent of the governed” appears in the Declaration of Independence, arguably an even more important document than the Constitution. Let’s take a look:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Unalienable rights…unable to be separated from us. Inherent. We all know the phrase, because it’s been used to justify everything from gay marriage to abortion to affirmative action. People who don’t bother to read on, however, miss the whole point.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
To secure these rights. To make them safe. What you do NOT see in this sentence (or anywhere else) is the idea that these rights are derived from the Government, or granted by it. In fact, if you keep reading, it makes very clear what is actually derived here. Men institute these governments—we design them and create them—to ensure the safety of the rights that we inherently have. Where does this government get its just power? From the consent of the governed. From you and I saying, yes, we consent to be governed, as long as you govern justly.
What happens when the government is no longer just? Certainly no government is wholly just; even the Founders were fallible men and subject to errors at times. Each person, however, must decide in their core how much injustice they are willing to endure before they say “no more.” Eventually, hopefully, every person has something that they would be willing to stand armed to defend, something that matters more to them than their own life. If you have nothing that you would be willing to pick up a gun and put your life on the line to defend, then you are nothing but a slave, because there is nothing they cannot do to you. You will tolerate any form of oppression, any level of control. You are simply a subject to be ruled and oppressed. The Founders never wanted such a thing. They fought two wars to stop it.
People are upset that Cliven Bundy didn’t pay his grazing fees. What no one is paying attention to is that the fees themselves were unconstitutional. I’ve seen folks complain that “other ranchers have to pay them and so should he.” Sorry, but that entire argument is ridiculous. Just because Rancher A allowed himself to be extorted by the federal government doesn’t make it constitutional, and just because Rancher B says they can go pack sand doesn’t make him a criminal…but let’s go back to the Declaration.
“…whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends,” (whenever the government destroys rights instead of safeguarding them), it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…” Not only do we have the right as Americans to do this, we have a duty. Even the military is expected to follow orders only as long as those orders are lawful.
Some conservatives don’t want to stand for Bundy because they think he is “not a good cause.” He’s not the right “test case.” Even if he was guilty of every last thing the federal government says he is, does he not deserve due process? Does he not have rights under the Constitution to things like a fair trial? Representation? Even Jeffrey Dahmer, caught red-handed with body parts in his freezer, had the right to his day in criminal court. We have these rights even for people like Dahmer, so that law-abiding people are not railroaded by a corrupt government. We have them so that the feds don’t show up at our homes with guns and dogs and threaten to shoot us if we do not comply. That is what happened this week in Nevada.
People argue that he did have his day in court and he lost multiple times. Does that give the Bureau of Land Management the right to call in the Department of Homeland Security—an agency that supposedly deals with threats to national security? Since when is Bundy a threat to national security? Does his refusal to be extorted by the feds give them clearance to post snipers with their sights targeting American citizens protesting his situation? To cordon off an area and say that “here’s where your free speech zone is”? My free speech zone extends from sea to shining sea, and any government that says it doesn’t is a government that’s far too big for its britches. And the day our government points a sniper rifle at our countrymen simply for having the balls to protest unjust law and tyranny is the day we should all wake up and smell the coffee. I daresay that it’s because of our own complacency that we’ve even gotten to this point.
Bundy’s range war isn’t about whether or not he paid grazing fees; in fact, anyone who’s done the research already knows that. It’s not about turtles, either. It’s about whether or not the federal government has the right to treat you like they own you. It’s about whether they have the right to bring military force to your doorstep to force your compliance with unjust laws. It’s about whether you—an American citizen—are a freeman or a slave. Every one of those people standing on Bundy’s ranch have already answered the question within themselves about where the line is, and what they are willing to stand for. And if you think the federal government really just packed up and went away, then you’ve underestimated how big a problem this is.
Freedom or tyranny? We could say this is the choice facing Americans right now, but there is never a choice.
Always, always freedom.
By the way…for those of you still laboring under the assumption that he’s a “squatter welfare rancher” and that it’s all his fault, read this. You’re welcome, by the way.