Thursday, October 25, 2012

This is my rifle, This is my vote




A vote is like a rifle. Its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.
T. Roosevelt.

100 years ago, Theodore Roosevelt was shot shortly before giving a speech while running for president of the United States. That bullet, meant for his heart, hit an eyeglass case and his 50 page speech that was folded up in his pocket. He gave the speech with blood running down his chest. He even made light of the situation. TR was a lot of things, but a wimp ain’t one of them. Roosevelt knew that his legacy of public lands and public wildlife were at risk. He came out of the jungle, literally, to run for president. He did it not for his own ego or for power, but because he saw the dismantling of America’s outdoor legacy and future being used as a casual campaign conversation designed to eliminate people from their public lands.

Roosevelt knew this: Your vote matters.

If it didn’t, why does every Tom, Dick and Harry with a PAC or special interest spend billions of dollars each election cycle to try and influence your vote?  Why do candidates don hunter orange and pose for photos in the field while trying to tell you that they share your beliefs and passion?

It’s because you and your vote matters.

Early voting is underway in Montana right now. So is absentee voting[B1] . The only requirement to vote is that you register. Not a bad deal.

I usually go for the early voting. I like filling out that ballot and ticking all the candidates I feel will best represent what I believe in. There is a sense of community at the polling place. People smile, and how you vote doesn’t matter to election officials. They’re just glad that you’re there to voteThis election year shares some striking similarities with TR’s Bull Moose run[B2] . The same fight to sell off the public estate and reduce the number of people who can use public lands is regaining momentum. We’ve seen bills in Utah, Arizona, and yes, even Montana to divest ourselves of public lands. Programs that help put and keep hunters in the field are constantly under attack by budget wonks who wrongly think that cutting revenue generating programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund, North American Wetlands Conservation Act, and even closer to home, programs like Habitat Montana and the Access Enhancement Fund, are the way to balance a bloated budget.

We do not endorse or oppose any candidate. We’re not partisan, liberal or conservative. What we are is Montanans who care deeply about the public land legacy that we've been left. We’re staunch advocates of Montana’s sportsmen and women, and the businesses who rely on public lands to help generate over $3 billion per year by promoting our bounty. Call public lands for what they are: Job generators, soul-revivers.
Just don’t try and take away a legacy that hunters and anglers have fought for now for over 100 years.

Go vote, exercise your franchise and fulfill the founding fathers vision of an involved and educated electorate guiding the future of our nation.

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