Rancher Cliven Bundy won his battle against the Bureau of Land Management, at least for the moment.
The well-armed — some would say overly armed — federal agents retreated in light of stubborn, armed, angry opposition after a week of intimidating, harassing and threatening that culminated in federal agents warning that they would shoot any of Bundy’s supporters if they tried to free the cattle collected by the BLM.
According to InfoWars, the BLM had already announced it was leaving, but the county sheriff refused Bundy’s demand to disarm the federal agents and return his cattle.
The result was a group of Bundy’s family members and supporters making a slow advance on a line of armed agents who kept ordering them to halt. At one point, the protesters were even told “one more step and you’re dead,” but the group kept coming, eventually walking easily through the line of federal agents and SWAT members who obviously didn’t have the courage of their convictions.
Within about a half hour, the cattle were released from the federal pen.
“The people have the power when they unite,” Ammon Bundy was reported saying in the Las Vegas Review Journal. “The war has just begun.”
Certainly the legal fight over Bundy’s cattle grazing on federal land he claims to have an intergenerational right to will continue. But it’s unlikely the federal government anytime soon will again try anything as ham-handed and stupid as what it tried last week in Clark County, Nevada.
For years, the Obama Administration, through its Department of Homeland Security, has been arming and armoring federal, state and local agencies, allegedly for national security. At the same time, it has made multiple unsuccessful efforts to remove guns en masse from citizens’ hands.
At the Bundy Ranch Showdown, the federal government learned a couple of things: first, that Americans aren’t giving up their guns because they know that they are the last line against a tyrannical government; second, that your average American law enforcement agent will not fire upon a group of fellow Americans without a far better reason than a bunch of cows and some baloney about an endangered tortoise; third, that many folks still understand that government gets its authority from the people, not vice versa.
I imagine the top circles of the Obama Administration are livid about how things turned out. Officials know they can’t be seen as being awash in a river of American blood, triply so in an election year.
Then there’s Sen. Harry Reid’s connection to the business in Clark County. Some news outlets either didn’t get it or they tried to bury it, but the Chinese solar energy firm Reid’s son represented wasn’t planning on building just in Laughlin, but in Clark County, where the County Commission voted to sell public lands for pennies on the dollar. The deal is reportedly off the table, and both Reid and his son are trying to distance themselves from any possible connection to the Bundy Ranch Showdown, but is it really a coincidence that the BLM decided to pull out within a day or so of Reid’s possible connection being revealed?
For the Democrats and the top officials in Washington, Bundy Ranch has to be as embarrassing as when President Obama tried to mobilize the globe to go to war in Syria over nerve gas and he couldn’t muster support from more than a few extremists from both parties.
The ordinary citizens of this country learned something from Bundy’s revolution, too; primarily the real reason the Second Amendment remains important and the government wants to restrict or eliminate it, but also the equally important lesson that we still have the power, if only we are courageous enough to use it.
Both sides in the showdown have been criticized. Many people saw a thuggish government trying to steal the livelihood from a family that’s worked the land for more than a century. Other people saw an old lawbreaker, a thief and trespasser who willfully ignored the laws for his own advantage.
Those who sided with the BLM cited the Treaty of Hidalgo against Bundy’s claims of property rights. The 1848 treaty beats Bundy’s claim by about 30 years, and buried in its text is language to the effect that everyone then living on the land formerly controlled by Mexico agrees that they no longer own their own property and give it to the U.S.
Ah ha! The government must be in the right, then.
Not so much. Even though the federal government long ago made itself immune to “adverse possession,” it allowed the Bundys to work the land for more than a century. Most people would call that a claim. The real dispute began in 1993 when the BLM started using those grazing fees to buy out ranchers instead of improving the Gold Butte area like they were supposed to, and then slapped restrictions on the noncompliant that forced them out of business.
That’s when Cliven Bundy says he “fired” the BLM, stopped paying his grazing fees, basically in self-defense. The feds eventually retaliated by revoking his grazing rights. (Wait, you mean he had grazing rights at one point? Whoops, gotta bury that factoid.)
Now, the federal government has no end of rules, regulations, laws and court rulings to try to prove its case. That’s one advantage of being an abusive government run by a bunch of Palpatines. (Remember, “I will make it legal.”) But in questions of liberty, the rules aren’t so much written down as they are obvious in light of certain understandings about the inherent rights of mankind and the universal nature of right and wrong. There actually is a court to appeal to in such matters, but the media don’t generally cover its rulings.
Comments from BLM supporters expressed a lot of envy of the “how dare he try to get away with not paying crushing fees when I always roll over and pay mine” variety. Most of the BLM supporters seem to be under the impression that the government is God and must be obeyed. Those sorts of legalists are scary.
On the other hand, if you believe the words of the Declaration of Independence, that when a government no longer guards the rights of its citizens, the citizens have a right to replace it, then you probably lean toward Bundy’s side of the argument.
It’s unclear what happens next. Bundy may have changed things, not just for himself but for people across the country. On the other hand, he may have just plucked the lion’s beard one time too many.
But one thing’s for certain. Cliven Bundy sure taught them a thing or two.