The Hundredth Meridian

War on the West

Maybe because the Sage Brush Rebellion coincided with the energy boom of the late 70's and early 80's when Western industrialists and developers were firmly in the saddle, its rhetoric rarely, if ever, achieved the intensity that Rocky Mountain politicians and other public spokesmen have used in denouncing the Clinton administration's efforts to redesign the social, economic, and political structures of their region. "War on the West" is a phrase heard repeatedly from such sober and responsible Western representatives of both national parties as Republican Senator Malcolm Wallop of Wyoming and Governor Mike Sullivan (also of Wyoming and the first Democratic governor to endorse Bill Clinton's bid for the presidency), who recently assured the Wyoming Woolgrowers' Association, "If you think you're suffering from paranoia, don't worry about it. They really are out to get you," adding that "the assault on public land issues is affecting culture values" of Westerners in general and the people of Wyoming in particular. Most dramatically, James Watt, Secretary of the Interior in Ronald Reagan's first administration and a Wyoming native now residing in Jackson, warns that Westerners "are learning to fear our government." At least one meeting of Western lawmakers has convened in recent weeks for the purpose of discussing the issue of states' rights. While the word "secession"...

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