Primer 1: Politics

 

From the outside – and even for many in the West – the West’s politics are usually seen as swaths of unbroken primary colors. The coast is blue (which in today’s color coding means Democratic) and the interior is Republican red, dotted here and there with liberal bastions such as Aspen, Boulder and Santa Fe. There’s a common belief that it’s always been like this, and that today’s shift to some shade of purple in the interior states is unprecedented.

 

This belief is based on myth, not reality. It’s true that the interior states handed all their electoral votes to George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, while his opponent dominated in California, Oregon and Washington. But as recently as 1996, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico all swung toward the Democratic presidential candidate (and in the process helped re-elect him). Long before that, large portions of the West – including the rural parts – were Democratic strongholds. The mining towns that once dotted the Rockies were often union strongholds, meaning their residents were not only largely Democratic, but prone to spouting downright socialist rhetoric.

 

Meanwhile, Republican Ron Paul just set a 24-hour fund-raising record this month, attracting $6 million over the Internet with his libertarian views, and some of his strongest support is coming from Washington and California.

 

The one political truism that can be said about the West is that we tend to defy the broad-brush approach. A greater percentage of Westerners voted for Ross Perot back in 1992 than in any other region, for example. Dozens of counties and municipalities have officially bristled against the Patriot Act and the Iraq War, as well as the current administration’s treatment of the environment. We see ourselves as fiercely independent, choosing our stance in political battle along something deeper than party lines. Many of our Republican politicians despise the Patriot Act; and many of our Democrats support strong gun rights. And in many a small town in the mountains or valleys of the Interior West, it’s a liability to run for county commissioner or town board as either a Democrat OR a Republican – the party of choice is “Unaffiliated.”

 

To try to capture a more realistic, and less simplistic, sense of Western politics, we have harvested a bushel of past stories from HCN for your reading pleasure.
High Country News Classifieds
  • ELLIE SAYS IT'S SAFE! A GUIDE DOG'S JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE
    by Don Hagedorn. A story of how lives of the visually impaired are improved through the love and courage of guide dogs. Available on Amazon.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY
    All positions available: Sales Representative, Accountant and Administrative Assistant. As part of our expansion program, our University is looking for part time work from home...
  • COMMUNICATIONS ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
    Position Title: Communications Associate Director Location: Flexible within the Western U.S., Durango, CO preferred Position reports to: Senior Communications Director The Conservation Lands Foundation (CLF)...
  • HISTORIC HOTEL & CAFE
    For Sale, 600k, Centennial Wyoming, 6 suites plus 2 bed, 2 bath apartment. www.themountainviewhotel.com Make this your home or buy a turn key hotel [email protected]
  • MAJOR GIFTS OFFICER
    High Country News, an award-winning news organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a Major Gifts Officer to join our...
  • RUBY, ARIZONA CARETAKER
    S. Az ghost town seeking full-time caretaker. Contact [email protected] for details.
  • VICE PRESIDENT, LANDSCAPE CONSERVATION
    Basic Summary: The Vice President for Landscape Conservation is based in the Washington, D.C., headquarters and oversees Defenders' work to promote landscape-scale wildlife conservation, focusing...
  • BRISTOL BAY PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Seeking a program director responsible for developing and implementing all aspects of the Alaska Chapter's priority strategy for conservation in the Bristol Bay region of...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The National Bighorn Sheep Center is looking for an Executive Director to take us forward into the new decade with continued strong leadership and vision:...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Powder Basin Watershed Council, based in Baker City, Oregon, seeks a new Executive Director with a passion for rural communities, water, and working lands....
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Powder River Basin Resource Council, a progressive non-profit conservation organization based in Sheridan, Wyoming, seeks an Executive Director, preferably with grassroots organizing experience, excellent communication...
  • ADOBE HOME
    Passive solar adobe home in high desert of central New Mexico. Located on a 10,000 acre cattle ranch.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Eastern Nevada Landscape Coalition, based in Ely, Nevada is looking for a new executive director to replace the long-time executive director who is retiring at...
  • STEVE HARRIS, EXPERIENCED PUBLIC LANDS/ENVIRONMENTAL ATTORNEY
    Comment Letters - Admin Appeals - Federal & State Litigation - FOIA -
  • LISA MACKEY PHOTOGRAPHY
    Fine Art Gicle Printing. Photo papers, fine art papers, canvas. Widths up to 44". Art printing by an artist.
  • LOG HOME IN THE GILA WILDERNESS
    Beautiful hand built log home in the heart of the Gila Wilderness on five acres. Please email for PDF of pictures and a full description.
  • CARETAKER
    2.0 acre homestead needing year-round caretaker in NE Oregon. Contact [email protected] for details.
  • SEEKING PROPERTY FOR BISON HERD
    Seeking additional properties for a herd of 1,000 AUM minimum. Interested in partnering with landowners looking to engage in commercial and/or conservation bison ranching. Location...
  • COPPER STAIN: ASARCO'S LEGACY IN EL PASO
    Tales from scores of ex-employees unearth the human costs of an economy that runs on copper.