“I heard somebody open and shut the gate to the barn lot, but I didn’t look around. If I didn’t look around it would not be true that somebody had opened the gate with the creaky hinges, and that is a wonderful principle for a man to get hold of. What you don’t know don’t hurt you, for it aint real. They called that Idealism in my book I had when I was in college, and after I got hold of that principle I became an idealist. I was a brass bound idealist in those days. If you are an Idealist it does not matter what you do or what goes on around you because it isn’t real anyway.” -- All the Kings Men – Robert Penn Warren
I ran across this passage while Reading the novel, All the Kings Men by Robert Penn Warren, and couldn’t help but consider this concept within today’s political scene. Today Washington is full of lobbyists and special interest groups whose objective is to be an uncompromising idealist. These individual groups work with a one track mind impassioned by a mission statement to ignore the reality around them and focus their resources to push their vision of utopia. Within the world of lobbying ideals, they can ignore the sounds behind them, for if they don’t turn around and look, then it aint real.
The short sided attitude of, “it isn’t real anyways”, might work when vying for time within the confined space of political influence, however when this attitude is taken ahold of by those actually creating policy, the effects are far more disastrous. For instance when an elected representative introduces legislation to designate handpicked tracks of land and mandate its management practices, they are under the influence of idealism. They circumvent the infrastructure created specifically to manage public lands and sell out to the delusions of a narrow ideal. Though this idyllic landscape paints the picture of utopia it acts as a thin veneer to mask the sounds of the creaky hinges behind them.
In the world of public lands management the sounds of the creaking hinges that are being ignored are things like wildfires. If politicians want to chalk these up as a result of global warming that is their choice, but the reality is that there is a lot more to this picture than a warming climate. The mismanagement of public lands for years and idealistic ignorance only adds fuel to the fires that rage within our public lands.
We need to invite our elected representatives to turn around and look at the direct consequences of their legislation upon our public lands. We need to demand that they quit ignoring the sounds behind them and quit pretending that creating idealistic legislation with a hands-off approach to public lands is providing any real value. A local based approach to create and maintain a multiple use landscape will be the only fix to the ever increasing squeaking hinges of our mismanaged public lands.