Outdoor enthusiasts easily swayed by republican rhetoric

Josh Rouse

With the rumors swirling around Washington, D.C., about the possible appointment of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to President Barack Obama’s cabinet, perhaps I’ve become a bit sentimental.

As with any government official, it’s easy to form memories from what you see or read or hear about in the media. Thinking back to the articles I’ve read throughout the years that Sebelius has been in office, I found it surprising that most of the articles I remembered had to do with the outdoors. Whether it was her annual one-shot turkey hunt, events she’d attended or bills she’d supported, it was a surreal moment to realize just how involved she really was with anglers and hunters.

Of course, becoming a democratic governor in a mainly republican constituency requires a certain amount of tact. Many avid outdoors enthusiasts cling to the Republican Party as if it is their personal protection against freedom-hating liberals, who all want to go to your house and take your guns away.

Over my dead body, right?

Actually, wrong. Many democrats are actually avid hunters themselves, Sebelius being one of them. In the 2004 election, pictures of John Kerry pheasant hunting in Iowa showed that even the “liberal elitists” enjoy the thrills of hunting. Compare that to the infamous Dick Cheney hunting fiasco, and then try to tell me who hunts more. I bet I know who Cheney’s huntin’ buddy votes for.

Leading up to the election, some hunting and gun magazines backed John McCain completely, saying Obama wanted to get rid of guns and hunting. Yet Obama co-sponsored the Wetlands Protection Act, and in an interview with Field & Stream Editor-in-Chief Anthony Licata said that he would prefer the Department of the Interior to be a sportsman or sportswoman. In that same article, Obama admitted that he supported legislation for banning assault rifles, but only because they are not used for hunting. Neither of the candidates said they owned a gun or hunted.

The truth behind the fear is that, if anything, democrats are actually a bigger supporter of wildlife than republicans. While republican politicians can boast that they support the second amendment and the right of any American to purchase a submachine gun at will, they have a lot of explaining to do when it comes to the environment. Those same “tree-hugging liberals” that want to take your guns away are also the ones that want to make sure you have a place to hunt or fish, with a wide selection of game to choose from.

This is not to say that all republicans do not care about preserving wildlife in their natural environment. Groups such as Ducks Unlimited, which are made up largely of the republican hunters, play a large role in preserving habitats and wildlife. But for any politician to preach about the joys of wildlife while pocketing money from big businesses that emit a good deal of pollution (big oil, for example) is an insult to the intelligence of the average outdoors enthusiast.