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There are an estimated 40 million sportsmen in the United States: hunters, sport fishermen, and outdoor enthusiasts. They're a traditionally right-leaning voting bloc, and an influential one at that; they reliably turn out in high numbers to vote at the polls. And fellow Treehugger John Laumer is always telling me not to underestimate or ignore them -- and he's always been right.
This group, which has as strong a connection to the wilderness as any peacenik hippie or liberal climate activist, is starting to get pissed off at the extreme nature of the Congressional GOP's anti-environment agenda ...And if you recall, that anti-environmental agenda of the modern-day GOP's is downright horrifying. I chronicled the various initiatives that comprise said agenda recently, and it all but sent a shiver down my spine. And apparently, it's not just clean air-appreciating urbanites and the climate conscious that are ticked off at those plans.
Some of the nation's top sportsmen groups are heading to Washington to voice their discontent with the slash and burn mentality of today's GOP. They met with top GOP and Democrat leaders alike. Here's Politico:
Anglers and hunters once courted by President George W. Bush don't like what they're seeing in the GOP's mad dash to cut spending and have made their feelings clear in meetings this month ... As the Republican leaders no doubt know, this is not a crowd to mess with. The Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation estimates that nearly eight in 10 hunters always vote in presidential elections, while six in 10 go to the polls in off years.This is hardly a radical group, and their demands seem pretty straightforward -- don't obliterate traditional conservation measures that Democratic and Republican citizens alike have enjoyed for many decades. Don't take an axe to wetlands or forestry protections. Don't fork over more preserved land to the private sector. Don't let polluters run wild.
Many conservation leaders were cautious about making overt political threats. But they said their dues-paying members will take notice if funding levels for their favorite programs keep getting slashed and if the policy riders don't disappear. "There's a tipping point," said Scott Kovarovics, conservation director at the Izaak Walton League of America, "in which folks who hunt, fish and enjoy the outdoors are going to take a step back and say, 'This isn't one thing; it's a series of things.'"
Simple enough, right? Yet in its rush to embrace the demands of its corporate benefactors and rabidly anti-regulation Tea Party base, the new GOP is doing each of the above.
This development also illustrates the need for the modern green movement -- which is driven mostly by college kids, liberals, and yuppie conscious consumers -- to work on forging a common bridge with the traditionally more conservative sportsmen who place an equal value on environmental protection, but express that value in a radically different manner.
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