by Barry Denton

View From the Backside

New Hope for America?

by Barry Denton

I was out on roundup last month and as is the tradition with many ranches in the West we had a big meal together afterward. It is always quite an affair with the men folk getting some superb vittles from the nice ranch ladies.

I have always wondered how women could help you work during the day and come up with such a fine meal at night. I am sure that is why we think they are so special. The end of roundup is one of my favorite times of the year.

The cattle prices are still up, the neighbors are all in, and have time to visit. One thing that we find out is that each ranch deals with primarily the same set of problems.

Many times our conversations lead to solutions that we could not achieve on our own. The other item that is so important to folks that live in remote areas is news. We all like to hear good news, but bad news is important as well.

Since I’m the local guy that is involved politically I seem to get all the flack when all the politicians I know do something stupid. Believe me, there is an endless supply of flack. I try to just report what I know about issues and let each individual make up their own mind about the subject. However, since as ranchers I think we should keep our hand in politics I’m often the messenger that is shot. The enlightening part is that we may argue and fight over specific topics among ourselves, but we all tend to vote the same way. The other thing that we all have in common is that we actually make time to go to the polls as we don’t trust the absentee ballot.

In our minor group of voting cowboys there are a couple of Independents, no Democrats, and mostly Republicans. We may unite to be influential, but I truly doubt that we have had any impact on any election.

Perhaps we need to start a “voting cowboy movement”. Let’s face it — we are becoming extinct. It is quite evident when you go into the hardware store and a transplanted city guy wants to buy your cowboy hat to put on his game room wall.

I was getting fuel the other day in Camp Verde, Arizona and someone in a Mercedes rolled down his window and asked to buy my hat. Foolishly I said no, but I did offer him an authentic cowboy pocket knife with the end of the blade broke off so it could double as a screwdriver.

Our roundup supper was prior to election day so everyone wanted to know about the issues and the candidates. Most had heard that the Republicans had a good chance of winning so they were eager to cast their ballots. The ranchers have been bludgeoned for six years by the current administration so there was finally some hope in the air.

I think after six years the ranchers would have voted for a third grader with a broken arm over a Democrat. I’m sure that goes for the rest of the country as well per the outcome of the recent election. Isn’t it remarkable that the majority of the country voted with a small group of cowboys and cowgirls. That is how you tell there has been a creeping crud permeating the country for too long.

My next duty was to meet with our congressman who is a champion of the “working person”. Yes, that’s what I said, and he has the record to prove it. One of the few members of congress that is not a lawyer and actually cares what his constituents think. Funny thing, but one time I used the term “working person” in describing a problem to one of our state legislators and he had no idea what I meant by that term. Talk about disconnected.

Back to the congressman, he was delighted with the sweep of the election that the republicans made. I expressed to the congressman that now my fellow cattle folks were concerned that the Republicans would squander their victory like they had done so many times before. They have a history of not knowing how to handle victory. I know there are at least a handful of good Republicans that possess some courage, but most seem to quake in their boots when their opponent looks cross eyed at them.

Why would you ever make concessions when you are the one with the power? Do you remember the story of Jesus in the temple in Jerusalem? As I remember it at that time you were required to go to the temple twice a year and sacrifice a lamb for God. You had to buy your sacrificial lamb from the Pharisees that owned all the sheep and made the rule in the first place. Jesus was aware of this and walked up to the tables full of money in the temple and turned them over with the help of his disciples.

Can you imagine the look on their faces? He intimidated the Pharisees so much that they wanted him put to death. And you know the rest of the story.

It’s time for the Republicans to intimidate instead of negotiate. While I agree that the country is more polarized than it was 30 years ago, I think it is actually a healthy evolution. We are in part of a cycle and bipartisanship will come back around in the future. Now is not the right time for it. Someone has to lead and it may as well be the newly elected Republicans. Are they capable?