Archive for October 2013
I know most people envision Alaska as a vast icefield 12 months out of the year, but the fact is we do get summer and in the Interior, you can get a sunburn and even, if you’re not careful, heat stroke.
The winter of 2013 was the winter that refused to end. It was still snowing in May. By snowing, I mean we were still shoveling and there were ski races for May Day. We hiked into our cabin site mid-May in tank tops because it was 60-odd degrees, but we were hip deep in snow. The ground was still frozen 18 inches down on Memorial weekend. The winter of 2013 was the winter of that refused to end.
It was followed by the best summer Interior Alaska has seen since I attained voting age. So 30 years. Imagine 20+ hours of sunlight with daytime temperatures in the 80s. The evenings don’t cool off because the sun doesn’t go down. You can read a book on your deck at midnight without a lamp. Some years we get a few days of that around the solstice (June 21), but this year, we had weeks of it and the “shoulder season” continued with temperatures in the 70s and virtually no rain. The military set fire to a forest to celebrate, but that was pretty much the only weather damper we had all summer. It didn’t even rain during the Tanana Valley Fair. It ALWAYS rains during the fair! It’s such an inside joke that when friends call from out of state who used to live here and ask how is the weather, if we say “it’s fair weather” they know it’s pouring. But it didn’t rain this year at the fair — at all.
And now it appears that this winter is never going to start. A week ago, it was so warm that my johnny-jump-ups came back for a false spring. It was 57 degrees on Monday. In my lifetime, I’ve known four Halloweens without snow. This would be one of them — assuming the snow holds off for another 12 hours.
For the record, I like snow, but am not unhappy with it being three weeks late. Also for the record, although I accept cold weather as the price for living near a vast wilderness, I could live without minus 30 below — for the entire winter. We still go out and enjoy the great outdoors to minus 20.
I believe in global warming. I think the worldwide temperatures are or have been on the rise. I don’t think human beings are having any appreciable effect on it. The scientists at the Geophysical Institute here at University of Alaska Fairbanks say the sun was getting warmer for a while, but was in a solar minimum for several years. Mars is undergoing the same warming followed by a cooling trend that we’ve been experiencing. The Vikkings farmed in southern Greenland a thousand years ago, too. Ships sailed through the Northwest Passage for a couple of summers in the 1880s. The planet has warmed before … and cooled. Ain’t nothing new under the sun.
Alaskans would benefit from global warming because it would lengthen our growing season, allowing us to be food self-sufficient. Sure, it would also melt permafrost and cause roads to heave and crack and houses to settle. That’s not new. That’s been happening here for the 100+ years English-speakers have been here to keep record. It happened before we got here, there was just no one to record it. Just as our ancestors adapted to this harsh land with its weird weather and strange soils, my generation needs to adapt to this less harsh land with its still weird weather and perhaps warmer soils. And just about the time we adapt, things will change as the sun goes through another cycle and we’ll need to dust off our memories to deal with the returned former conditions.
Every generation of mankind wants to believe that we are somehow living in a unique age that requires us to wrestle control of the environment. This delusion is not new to us. Not long after the Vikkings farmed in southern Greenland, the priests of the Alps started making offerings to the glaciers in hopes of stopping their advance into what had been productive farmland. It didn’t work because human beings are ants compared to the global climate.
Mankind has delusions of grandeur when we suppose we can control the environment. We can’t. The global environment is enthrall to the solar system. Anything we puny little ants do is the equivalent of trying to steer an aircraft carrier with a teaspoon. Even if we could nudge global temperatures in one direction or another, we don’t know if what we do would have a beneficial or negative effect. That forest fire the military caused this summer was partially caused by 50 years of fire suppression that left our forests full of a lot of fuel that burns very hot and is very hard to put out. More often than not, when we mess with nature, we mess it up.
We should accept our status in the solar system and spend our efforts on adapting to whatever the environment does instead of trying to steer the Titanic with a teaspoon.
It’s clear to me that the federalist system the Founders set up somehow went off the tracks and we are now in a nationalistic system where the government in Washington DC feels it can dictate to the states without fear of electoral reprisal.
I’ve tried to figure out what happened. Yes, you can say the federal system started to falter during the Civil War when Lincoln and what remained of Congress decided that states were not allowed to secede from Union. And, that was a big hit to federalism, but it was a temporary and limited hit. It gave the tyrants ideas, but it didn’t completely destroy the system.
In 1978, Alaskans began to seriously consider secession as an option to “fix” our DC problem. Instead of trying to work it out with our abuser, we wanted to move out on our own. We were alone. The “sagebrush” rebellion was a sign that federalism was on the rise and might end the union – or at least return it to the federalist system we were originally structured under. But something happened. In 2009, California Congressman Pete Stark felt comfortable to say “the Constitution pretty much allows Congress to do whatever it wants.”
How did we get there? Inquiring minds want to know. And, I found it.
Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority http://www.heritage.org/initiatives/rule-of-law/judicial-activism/cases/garcia-v-san-antonio-metropolitan-transit-authority was a 1985 US Supreme Court decision that holds that Congress has the power under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution to extend the Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires that employers provide minimum wage and overtime pay to their employees, to state and local governments.
In 1976 (a mere nine years before) the Supreme Court held that the FLSA could not constitutionally be applied to state governments.
Yeah. The moral of this story is that what’s “constitutional” can change with the political wind which can shift in less than a decade. And, the Supreme Court is no less political than Congress; it just shifts slightly more slowly. Both were five-four decisions. The 1976 case was the Burger Court. William Rehnquist wrote the majority opinion, Harry Blackmun concurred and Justices Brennan and Stevens wrote separate opinions. The first ruling was that Congress may have the authority to regulate individual businesses under the Commerce Clause, but not state governments which have the protection of the 10th Amendment.
Nine years later, still under the Burger Court, Blackmun switched sides, rejecting his own prior opinion that the Constitution’s recognition of the sovereignty of the states necessarily implies limits on the power of the federal government to regulate their employment relations. In the majority’s view, the constitutional grant of authority to Congress to regulate interstate commerce was not qualified by any implied limitation on the right to regulate the activities of the states when they engaged in interstate commerce. They ruled the Commerce Clause invalidates state regulations that interfere with commerce, while the Supremacy Clause allows Congress to preempt state laws that conflict with federal law in this area. According to the majority, the framers believed that state sovereignty could be maintained by the peculiar structure they adopted: a Senate in which each state was given equal representation, regardless of its population, an electoral college that gave the states the power to choose electors, and the indirect election of Senators by the legislature of each state prior to the adoption of the 17th Amendment. Noting that the same Congress that extended the FLSA to cover government-run mass transit systems also provided substantial funding for those systems, the Court concluded that the structure created by the framers had indeed protected the states from overreaching by the federal government.
The dissent (Powell, Burger, Rehnquist and O’Connor) objected to the failure of stare decisis for National League of Cities and the failure to recognize the limiting role of the 10th Amendment.
Although subsequent opinions have tried to put the milk back in the bottle, it’s been difficult to do. The abuse of precedent (stare decisis) and the rejection of the 10th Amendment damages the Constitution by abusing both the Commerce Clause and the 10th Amendment, putting states at the mercy of the federal government even while exercising powers that have traditionally been state functions.
Which just goes to show you that the Supreme Court should not be the arbitrator of what is constitutional.
And, they weren’t originally, by the way. That came during the Madison administration. The original Framers did not intend for the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution. The original role of the Supreme Court was to vet laws and determine if they passed Constitutional muster. That is a wholly different job than interpreting the Constitution itself.
So, how’d we get here? Politics, as usual.
Obviously, I don’t think not voting is going to get us where we want to go. I don’t buy the argument that the government in control of the land is not going to have an effect on the people who live in the land. Sorry, but my anarchist friends are wrong on this point.
What they say is that most of the time, the people living day-to-day lives in whatever country never interact with their government, so what does it matter if it’s a communist or a socialist or a capitalist government because you just live your life without a need for a state and it won’t affect you.
How is that working out for these people who want to live without a state in the United States right now? Have you noticed you need the government to permit you to do things? If you don’t have a permit to, say, build a house, just watch what happens when you try to build that house. If you need a license to drive a car, just watch what happens when you are caught by the police driving a car without a license.
I’m not saying that is how it should be. It’s reality that the government we have currently affects all of our lives in complicated and mostly impossible to avoid ways.
So you do away with the state so you don’t have to have a driver’s license or get a permit to build a house.
Politics abhors a vacuum almost as much as nature does. A stateless society is ripe to be taken over by another state, either arising from the citizenry or coming from another country. The countries the United States of America owed will likely consider that debt still owed by the former citizens of that country … unless you plan to move somewhere else, which I don’t. You can expect the UN to agree with our creditor states, so another government is taking the place of this one if we do away with it. That’s reality, like it or not!
Now, for grins, let’s suppose that our three largest creditors divide up the nation to get a return on their investment. China, Japan and the Europe zone divide us up, start mining our resources and dusting off our mothballed factories and building new ones. You don’t think they’re going to demand that the people of the former United States (essentially squatters in our own country) get off our rusty-dusties and get to work in the new factories working for slave labor wages? Of course they are. The Europeans and Japanese may feel slightly guilty about it, but then someone will point out that the United States did much the same to them after World War II. Oh, yeah, we provided them with lovely incentives and they’ve reaped great benefit from those, but the fact is that when a nation owes a great debt to other stronger nations, the people of the debtor nation have to work to pay it off.
Now turn your attention to China – our primary creditor. The Chinese do not have a history of treating their conquered neighbors with love and equality. In fact, ask the people of Henan province if they are granted anything approaching freedom of religion. What happens if you criticize the government in China? Yeah, there’s no freedom of speech either. Are you afforded a fair trial? Rarely.
Do you think they’re going to treat us any differently than they have treated their own? Probably not. If you’re a freedom-loving anarchist type who attends a church or speaks on the radio about what you believe, you will be the first they come for because the Chinese do not and never have valued liberty.
So, yes, the state that replaces this state will matter to you just as much as the current one does.
I don’t like this current state. Our government is out of control and has become oppressive, but when I look at the alternatives ….
Politics abhors a vacuum almost as much as nature does. Are we sure we want to risk creating one?
My anarchist friends insist that the solution to our governance problem is just to stop voting. They see voting as force. If 51% of the voters (which may only be a tiny fraction of the population) votes for something or someone, it forces the 49% (and how every many didn’t vote) to accept the outcome of the election. They don’t consider that to be freedom.
To a certain extent they are right. When 63% of the Fairbanks community (in an election where almost 70% of registered voters actually showed up) voted to deny the borough (like a county) the authority to regulate home heating devices, we were forcing our opinions on the 37% of those who disagreed. A slim number of that 37% went to the State of Alaska to demand that it clean up the air quality in Fairbanks (which, by the way, is not that bad) and now we’re looking at the same SOA restrictions on home heating as the borough wanted to institute. Democracy isn’t working too well here in Fairbanks this fall. The majority won the election, but the minority controls the administrative state. I’m burning wood anyway.
Yes, I’m a rebel … a domesticated rebel.
Which is completely in keeping with anarcho-anarchist thinking. I will choose to exercise my liberty regardless of the regulations. The Borough/State may fine me, but I’ll refuse to pay the fines and this will end up in court. The hope is that enough of us will do this that it will become a class-action suit that pushes back against the Borough, the State and, ultimately, the EPA. Electoral politics failed, so now we have to do something else.
We have to get away from the idea that the only way to change our government is to vote for one of two political parties. Other ways may hold more risks, but they’re equally valid.
My coffee shop friends suggest that if all of us who care about liberty didn’t show up for the next several elections, the government would become much more dysfunctional and liable to collapse. It would no longer be able to claim authority as derived from the people.
Again, there’s wisdom there. When the Democrats were in control of the White House and both houses of Congress, they really pissed off the country and created the ‘tea party’ movement. Had they remained in power for a bit longer, they might have hammered a final nail in the coffin of the Democratic Party. But, what if wasn’t, which leaves us with what is.
The utter tyranny that flowed from both houses of Congress and the White House voting in lock-step convinced people that divided government was better, but it wasn’t enough to convince folks to vote sensibly when Obama came up for reelection or to toss out the incumbents whose entrenched interests are driving the growth of government. Maybe a substantial percentage of liberty-loving Americans not voting for several election cycles would so concentrate disgust with the results that when we finally did return to the polls we’d vote for sweeping change.
Or maybe we’d just give the statists the power to take the vote away from us permanently.
Anarchists say we should just not vote, but I think they’re naive. The government you didn’t vote for will still have a powerful influence on your lives. I do believe it would eventually collapse, but what follows it — because some form of social contract always replaces a fallen government — will affect our lives either negatively or positively. You can try to hide from it, but it’s a whole lot better to be in control of it. That’s what our Founders understood. We the people are either in control of our government or a government is in control of us. At least with the Constitution of the United States, we the people have the opportunity to be in control of the government. I don’t think China or Mexico is going to give their slave colony the same opportunity.
Unlike the mass media and those heavily-influenced by them, I do not blame our current political mess on a particular party, but on politicians in general and the current system of not-quite-representation in particular.
When the United States reformed its inadequate government under the Articles of Confederation to something more workable, there was a great deal of debate between the Federalists and the anti-Federalists about the very nature of representation. Today’s liberals like to say that the Federalists won, therefore, those of us who believe in states’ rights should shut up, but that betrays their lack of historical understanding. The Federalists and the Anti-Federalists compromised on separation of powers in a way that was really quite brilliant. Although the federal usurpation of states’ rights is one of the symptoms of the rot that is destroying the tree of liberty, the fungus causing the rot is much more fundamental. The delegates to the Constitutional Convention spent a great deal more time wrangling over the issue of representation, hoping to strike a balance that would work. We have neither of the two proposed forms of representation that were debated during the original ratification. What we have is a hybrid that combines the worst of both forms without the virtues of either.
At heart, the discussion at the Constitutional Convention and, following, in the newspapers, was the role that would be played by elected officials along with their relationship to the citizenry. Although focused on the organization of the House of Representatives, the topic of the debate was really about the very nature of representation. The Federalists sought to structure the Constitution so as to create fairly large districts with numerous constituents so as to dilute the political passions and participation by the electorate. Larger districts, they hoped, would cause only “the cream of society” to rise to political attention, ensuring the election of “fit characters” to office, who would be better able to discern the “public good” than if the entire body of the people had gathered for that purpose. They advocated that citizens should be private-minded, with relatively little interest paid to political matters which should be left up to the “experts”. The Federalists hoped the ambitious representatives of their system would set aside any regional or constituent differences for the ultimate goal of achieving American greatness.
The Anti-Federalists argued for relatively small and homogenous districts in which there would be frequent rotation in office and shorter terms (a year, at most), thereby ensuring that representatives would be drawn from the body of the citizens, creating a close bond between constituents and their representatives. They hoped representatives would be drawn from the “middling” part of society, whom they believed would be less prone to vices of the “great”. The Anti-Federalists hoped to foster a high degree of deliberation and political discussion among the whole of the citizenry, favoring more local and deliberatively forms of self-government. The Anti-Federalists hoped for contention within the lower chamber that would thwart the ambitions of the elite and keep the central government relatively ineffectual, allowing for strong local political self-rule.
The Federalists at the Constitutional Convention were elitists who were interested in ruling the masses. The Anti-Federalists were yeomen citizens who wanted the masses to rule themselves. When the Federalists did not get their way to the degree they imagined they would, they devoted themselves to business and let the people take up the task of self-rule.
In Federalist 10, James Madison argued that the form of representation favored by his side of the debate (Madison was a Federalist), would combat the formation of “majority factions” and prevent a portion of society from using the levers of government to manipulate the process to achieve its narrow ends. They feared “special interest” politics.
The Anti-Federalists insisted that their version of representation would forestall the creation of a “consolidated” government, making frequent agreement at the federal level unlikely, while also fostering civic virtues and practices that would keep governance close to home. They feared a powerful central government at the beck and call of the wealthy and powerful.
In reality, both groups really feared special interest politics, but the Federalists saw no reason to fear the special interests of their own social class. Neither side “won” a complete victory in the writing of the United States Constitution, but the Federalists won on large districts and longer terms of office. Interestingly, according to Democracy in America (d’Toqueville), the Anti-Federalist system was very much in evidence in the 1830s. He felt this might be one of the reasons democracy worked in America where it had mostly failed in France and elsewhere. Politics were mostly local, representatives were not “great men” and most did not stay in office more than one or two terms. In fact, he noted, that the “great men” seemed mostly uninterested in politics while the people were quite involved. The French nobleman thought it regrettable that America’s wealthy were more interested in business and the interior of their homes than politics and yet he agreed that the lack of strong special interest groups like a nobility or an engaged wealth class kept the American government responsive to the people. Federal law had little effect on people’s day-to-day lives and the frequent changes in representation meant that if a law was passed that did negatively impact people’s lives, it could be repealed soon after the next election. It seems that for a brief period in American history, we actually exercised self-governance.
Today, we have combined parts of the Federalist and Anti-Federalist theories and arrived at a highly unpalatable and toxic mix. The Constitution allowed for this to happen, but I don’t think the Founders would have approved.
The Federalists would be floored at how large our districts are today. Alaska has one Congressional representative for more than 750,000 constituents. Don Young is a former riverboat captain and teacher from Ft. Yukon, a rural Interior village. To the extent that he has, after 40-odd years, maintained an Alaskan mentality, that’s wonderful, but it’s ridiculous to think that he has ever represented the views of all or even most of the people of Alaska. He represents an extremely heterogenous district made up of urban and rural interests, environmentalist and development interests, tough-minded construction workers, statist government workers and dependent-minded Natives. There is no way he can represent us all.
Senators in most states have way more constituents than Don Young has. Only those with power, status or wealth have any chance of being heard, let alone elected. Almost all senators today are millionaires and draw funding from the entire nation rather than the state they represent. Why should Lisa Murkowski (a wealthy lawyer before Daddy, the wealthy banker and governor put her in office), care what I (a middle-class administrator with a construction worker husband) think about the federal debt or ObamaCare when she gets the majority of her $3 million war chest from groups located outside of the State of Alaska? She gives zilch about what Alaskans think. Daddy put her in office so she could inherit his donation list.
It’s a similar situation with the senators in your own state. Washington DC lures them with power and status and once there, they seek continuous reelection. Moreover, most citizens can’t be bothered to be knowledgeable on the issues and even the ones who vote often vote without understanding of what’s at stake. Modern representation resembles the Federalist view of governance in its elitism and disconnection from the electorate.
However, because of the nearly universal use of gerrymandering, districts today, while large, are increasingly ideologically homogenous. Representatives must appear beholding to the electorate, so they seek to vote in accordance to the perceived wishes of their constituents, resembling the Anti-Federalist view of governance. While constituents today have very little opportunity to actually interact with their representatives, they still hope these representatives will honor their community values. This resembles the Anti-Federalist view.
How did we get here?
After the ratification of the Constitution, politics came into play. Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry (an Anti-Federalist at the time of the ratification) signed a bill redistricting Massachusetts to benefit the Democratic-Republican Party. It became a system adopted throughout the nation.These really contorted districts (called gerrymandering) created the homogenous districts the Anti-Federalists hoped for, but it also provided the means for later generations to establish a professional political class. If a particularlar party couldn’t get the election results they desired, they would concentrate on electing a governor who would simply redraw the electoral boundaries to assure that their party would win the next legislative election. Because the districts the Constitution created are so large, homogeneity achieved through gerrymanding concentrated power in a wealthy elite who stay in office for a generation rather than engendering self-government with a high degree of political participation and frequent changes in representation.
The reforms of the direct primary ensured greater say by the citizenry in the selection of their representatives, but predictably, this reform has resulted in an increase in the monied or famous being nominated, probably because of their greater visibility prior to the election, but also because they have the money to buy the advertising cycle. We have massive districts without real opportunity for deliberation, but constant efforts by representatives to learn the views of the constituents by means of polling. Citizens are largely disconnected from politics, but those who vote demand obeisance to their views. Representation today is driven by private demands of constituents over a professional political class who want to be seen as acting on those demands while actually doing the bidding of those who paid for their election campaigns. Deliberation has been replaced with polling which takes a snapshot of “public opinion” consisting of the aggregation of opinions as manipulated by the wording of the poll. It invites the appearance of participation by citizens who are not adequately equipped to render an opinion on complex subjects. No surprise that our Congress “mirrors” an increasingly querulous, divided, private, and civically-emaciated citizenry.
When d’Toqueville admired the politically astute yeoman farmers and laborers of 1830s America, he was seeing an educated (though not necessarily schooled) citizenry who were aware of the issues thanks to multiple (not necessarily unbiased) newspapers and the willingness of their neighbors to discuss the issues of the day. When a farmer or a trademan voted, there might be passion and personal interest involved, but it was knowledge-based passion, as opposed to today’s passion as defined by sound-bites.
The liberal-progressive voices of our day want us to believe that this is how it is, how it always has been and how it must continue. It’s in the Constitution! The Federalists won and we have big disconnected government that represents the interests of those who put them in office. That wouldn’t be you plebs obsessing over your iPhones. You vote like you’re told to vote and the “experts” will take care of you. Pay no attention to the liberties you’re losing or the national debt that has exceeded GDP. Just focus on the latest hit reality TV show and don’t worry your dumb little heads about it.
No! This is what our Founders hoped to avoid and it is what we must correct. Our government is out-of-control because we allowed it to get of OUR control. That’s what we have to fix.
How to do that is a topic worthy of civic concern, deliberation, and renewed debate. Most Americans are not up to that task today, but the good news is that some of us are (or can become) and if we can create enough stir with our ideas we might wake up a large enough minority of the population to actually affect needed change.
Are we ready to get started?
I think we can all agree that the United States government is not working for us anymore. That makes me sad and scared because what replaces it is an unknown. My feeling about human nature is that we got lucky once. We can’t expect that to happen again. If we toss the US Constitution entirely, the vacuum will be filled and what fills it will not be to the liking of most freedom lovers.
But how do you save a nation that is determined to spend itself into oblivion and whose political leaders seem completely unable or unwilling to make the tough choices to get rid of the administrative state and the bureaucratic overburden that is destroying the country.
What is the solution? Dictatorship! To preserve the United States of America, we need an Abraham Lincoln to win the next election – a man or woman willing to force a set of tough decisions upon us.
Ooo, you didn’t expect me to say that. It’s reality. I’m not in favor of it, but it is what we’re left with. You could try to educate the populace about liberty, fiscal responsibility and the value of long-term strategic thinking over short-term rewards, but that would require a cultural shift spanning at least two generations. We don’t have that much time. The collapse is coming and we may be so lucky as to survive it without being enslaved by a foreign dictatorship.
Democracy does not work because the majority are short-sighted and self-serving and even a constitutional republic will eventually crash-land if democracy grabs hold of the controls. My anarchist friends would say we should throw away the concept of representative democracy completely. A nation of sovereign citizens could operate in a completely different mindset based on personal responsibility. We don’t need a federal government, they would say. National defense could be coordinated among the states and everything else could be done by the states.
I don’t think they’re entirely wrong, but I also think they’re somewhat naïve. We don’t live in the 1780s when it took months for the British fleet to cross the Atlantic. Today’s armies can arrive in hours. Local militias with their weapons stored in their homes are not going to stand up to fighter jets scrambled in Asia. That doesn’t mean they won’t come into play for defending ourselves when the economy does, inevitably, collapse and the federal government becomes a toothless appendage once more dependent upon the states. I just don’t think they’re up to the reality of modern warfare. I also don’t think that 50 governors acting as ambassadors to different nations is going to provide us with much diplomatic stability. I think we’re going to need something a little bit more coordinated than that.
Remember, we’ve been here before. The Articles of Confederation did not work. Let’s learn from that mistake and not repeat it. We have a constitution that worked in the past. Shed of the encumbrances of the administrative state, it might just prove its resilience – if we give it a chance. More likely, though, given our folly so far and the lack of education in the populace we’re going to go the way of another republic – Rome, that eventually was taken over by a dictator and managed to hang on for a couple of centuries before it collapsed entirely.
Bill Walker is running as an independent candidate for Governor of Alaska in 2014. Historically, he’s a development-oriented Alaskan Republican. Born in Fairbanks, raised in Delta and Valdez, he’s a lifetime Alaskan, a builder and attorney by trade (and, no, that’s not all that weird in Alaska). For over 30 years, he’s been a steady voice calling for an instate natural gasline that would provide gas to Alaskans as well as provide for exports.
I plan to explore Alaskan issues in the near future — to try to explain us — if that’s even possible — but for now, I’m just going to say …
Walker’s selection of Craig Fleener was his running mate is inspired!
Walker is an oil and gas attorney and a builder — very pro-development. He’s also a white guy.
Fleener is an Gwitch-in Athabaskan from Ft. Yukon (same town as Don Young) — a decorated Marine with a background in Fish & Game management. He’s married to a white woman.
That team encompasses most of the resource issues in Alaska and it brings together two groups that really need to heal some rifts. We’ve allowed special interest groups from the Lower 48 to divide us into white and Native, urban and rural, pro-development and anti-development.
Walker is not an Anchorage Republican. He’s from the other half of the state — Fairbanks to Valdez Richardson Highway area who didn’t get the sweetheart Cook Inlet natural gas deal and have had to struggle with high heating and electric costs that stifle growth. Fleener has the potential to represent Natives, who are 20% of our population. More than that, though, he can speak to wise resource management in the biological realm. So often, Alaska looks toward mining (and oil and gas is just mining) as our economic engine and we’re accused of ignoring wildlife and air and water quality. I say accused because I don’t think we actually do that. An accusation is not necessarily reality.
Walker and Fleener can speak of the need to balance those interests — white/Native, rural/urban, development/conservation.
It was a brilliant selection on Walker’s part. The other night at the fundraiser, it was good to see a good mix of people talking with one another about the same issues without the usual rancor that comes with partisan politics.
It’s what Alaska has needed for a long time. It makes Walker’s slogan “Alaska First!It’s Time” mean something. Alaskans shouldn’t be divided into groups that oppose one another because Lower 48 interests say we should group up. If we seek what is good for Alaska as a whole we are stronger than if we fight among ourselves.
This team is Alaskan politics as it should be, as it once was. Good luck to them!