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
  • ADOBE HOME
    Passive solar adobe home in high desert of central New Mexico. Located on a 10,000 acre cattle ranch.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Western Slope Conservation Center Paonia, CO WSCC seeks a dynamic leader who is mission-driven, hardworking and a creative problem-solver. Position Summary: The Executive Director leads...
  • ARIZONA STATE DIRECTOR
    A LITTLE ABOUT US Founded in 1951, the Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all...
  • CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT/HOSPITALITY SERVICES
    Seasoned ranch manager of award-winning conservation ranch seeking position as nature reserve/resort or ranch manager. Visit philipmoonwalker.com for resume and certifications. Contact: [email protected]
  • PART-TIME OREGON GRANT WRITER
    Help advance rights for people, communities, and nature - Part-time grant writer. The Oregon Community Rights Network (ORCRN) has been active over the last six...
  • UTAH PUBLIC LANDS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Job Title: Utah Public Lands Program Director Location: Southern Utah Position: Full Time (40 hours per week) Supervisor: Conservation Director About us: The Grand Canyon...
  • FSBO PROPERTY-SOUTHEAST ARIZONA
    Located in an area steeped in history, this gentleman's ranch sits at the entrance to the renowned Cave Creek Canyon. Enjoy picturesque views of the...
  • 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...
  • LAND CONSERVATION PROJECT MANAGER
    JOIN OUR TEAM! The New Mexico Land Conservancy in Santa Fe is seeking a Land Conservation Project Manager who will work to protect land and...
  • HOME NEAR CAPITOL REEF NP
    Comfortable home at foot of Boulder Mountain, on one fenced acre. Amazing views!
  • 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.
  • NEW MEXICO PROPERTY - SILVER CITY
    20 acres, $80,000. Owner financing, well, driveway, fencing possible, very private, sensible covenants, broker owned. Contact - 575-534-7955 or [email protected]
  • SECLUDED COLORADO HIDEAWAY
    This passive solar home sits on 2 lots and offers an abundance of privacy and views while being only 15 minutes to downtown Buena Vista....
  • 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.
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.