Putting the "public" back in the land

This is a link to an article by Mcjoan in the Daily Kos. It is about the importance of public land, and the need for the Democrats to be smart about this issue, which they often were not over the last 20 years. A stance defending the public lands can be a winner for them, but to use the tired phrase, “the Democrats have often snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.”

First a comment of my own. Have you noticed Bush never uses the word “public,” and rarely “citizen.” It’s always “the American people,” as in “I’m working to defend the American people from the terrorists.” This is an important difference from past Presidents because “a people” can also be the subjects of a king or a dictator, while citizens are never subjects. With a king there is no public, and the people are his subjects.

I don’t think this is just a matter of Bush’s rhetorical style.






  1. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    This is undated – sorry…

    “The bottom line is the timber industry can survive without destroying the last of our ancient forests and wilderness,” said Doug Heiken of Oregon Natural Resources Council, one of the plaintiff groups. “It’s time for everyone to recognize that the highest and best use of our public forest is as fish and wildlife refuge, drinking-water filter, air purifier, soil protector, recreation site, scenic vista, pharmaceutical storehouse, source of inspiration, and crucible of evolution.”

  2. be Avatar

    DeVoto-esque – err…. light…

    it is incredible to me how political analysts are able to write articles like this and omit the role of the most influential extractive industry associations in these local governments. it would seem like the light might do the process some good.

    perhaps the authors roots implicate the product.

    perhaps i am too critical…

  3. Monty Avatar

    Words and labels mean something. We should always use the term “public lands” in lieu of government lands. And the public should constantly be reminded of what Aldo Leopold wrote: “what good are 40 freedoms without the land to be free in”. “Physical freedom and space” is an important resource as clean air and water & in our increasingly over-crowded world public lands are the only remaining place where this resource exists.

    Sometimes, I like to go a step further and say “the public’s land.” Ralph Maughan

  4. jimbob Avatar

    I agree–especially the point about Bush not using the words public and citizen. People think every point is just an attack on Bush, but it should be clear to anybody with a brain and eyes that Bush was put into that office to advance the causes of extractive industries, especially the oil industry. The republicans found a guy who was guileless and plain and the industries found a sympathetic individual who agreed and had ties to most extractive industries (in addition to viewing himself as a “cowboy”, although he’s an eastern blue blood. He, Cheney, and all the others also saw a chance to make piles of money for these industries and the defense industry. I may not have evidence but if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck…….


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan