Big skies and purple mountain majesty

Actually, places like Midland, Texas have the biggest skies.  You can look full circle at the horizon and never see a bump.  But in Montana the sky seems bigger, because every direction you look from a place like Bozeman you see a mountain range, near or far.  After he graduated from Montana State RP Co-founder Darren has worked for three entrepeneurs who moved their families and businesses here.  They  came from Minnesota, Chicago and Maryland, and the internet allows them to locate wherever there’s broadband.  This part of America is doing just fine.

All of Darren’s friends hunt and fish, and are opposed to the Transfer of Public Lands (TPL) to the States. The man they universally loathe is Ted Turner, the largest private land owner in the state.   No one is allowed to hunt on his land, and he discourages fishing on it, even though Montana law makes all the fishing streams in the state legally accessible to the public.  These guys are afraid the State of Montana , to avoid raising taxes, would sell the land to people like Turner, who would block their access.

Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate for governor, supports TPL, and according to Darren is taking a lot of grief on it.  Incumbent Democrat Bullock (the man who killed the Article V BBA Resolution in Montana in 2015) is demagoguing the issue, and as far as I can tell Gianforte has not counterattacked.  Since I’ll be here until after Labor Day, I intend to sit sown with whoever is running his campaign and offer some ideas about how to do just that  — take the offense on this issue, and win the election on it.  According to Montana  State Senator Jennifer Fielder, the new leader of the TPL movement, recent polling in the state shows a majority of voters in favor of TPL, a change from the recent past.  The incompetence of the Forest Service and the BLM in managing federal lands is responsible for many of the devastating forest fires that plague the Far West, most definitely including Montana, and people here are aware of it.  In places like Alaska and Utah federal land ownership is a huge obstacle to sensible resource development, but in Montana you can’t sell TPL that way.  You have to argue that the people of Montana know and love the land here best, and are better stewards of their own land than a bunch of metrosexual bureaucrats  in Washington D.C.

Trump was talking to a bunch of Christian ministers at some meeting, and asked if any of them were from Utah.  No one was, as he expected.  He was trying to get someone to explain how he could be in danger of losing the reddest state in the country.  His problems in Utah could be solved in one stroke  —  forceful advocacy of TPL.  It would also put Nevada firmly in his column, and would help in Colorado and New Mexico.  He doesn’t even need to mention the words “resource development”.   Just talk about federal incompetence, and entrusting public lands to the people who live on and by them.  Federalism may be one of those words Trump is unfamiliar with, but he needs to realize, especially in the Far West, that it’s a powerful , winning political argument.

Trump is wisely backtracking from his extreme position on the deportation of illegals.  He needs to do the same on TPL.  He didn’t win any votes by siding with the environmentalists in opposing  it.  He’ll win votes by supporting it.  There may be potential Trump voters back East who don’t like TPL, but it’s a relatively minor and obscure issue to them.  In the Far West, it wins states.

If Trump did a major policy speech which included support for TPL, Gianforte could ride his coattails on this issue to the Governorship.  If that were to happen, Montana would again be a target state for the Article V BBA.  A threefer;  a Trump win, a Gianforte win, and an Article V win.

Whenever I’m in Montana the world’s troubles seem far away.  The natural beauty here is so great it’s like a mini-Alaska.  With much shorter winters.

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